"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, June 30, 2008

His praise shall continually be on my lips

Wow, the last day of June is here already! Later this week we will celebrate America's independence. I still remember last year when we went to a fish fry at my great-aunt's house for the 4th. Hard to believe that has been a full year ago! Today marks 35 years since my parents got married ... wow! My life is flying!

I meant to write a bit about my grandparents the other day when I posted a few pictures of them. Mama has been in Greenville with them the last couple of weeks. Since she has some time off in the summer, she has done this the last few years so she can help them with various tasks. She told me the other night that Pop has been saying how he keeps thinking at night that he will go to bed and wake up in heaven. And he seems really disappointed the next morning to wake up and still be alive on earth! Thankfully Pop is a cheery person despite the fact he is ready for Home. It's so ordinary to be visiting his house and for him to go lie down for a nap only for us to hear singing instead of snores coming from the bedroom! :-) He lies there belting out all sorts of praise songs to Jesus. It brings a smile to my face imagining Pop graduating from practicing here to singing with the choirs of Heaven! What a glorious thought! No wonder he is ready to go. Often these days, I feel similarly.

Praising God is so important and I don't do it enough! Having an attitude of thanksgiving keeps us from being discouraged and complaining and being mean to one another. You can't exactly live down in the dumps, express your discontent with life, politics and the price of food and oil and curse your neighbor while you have genuine thanksgiving to God in your heart and on your lips. The Psalms are full of praise to our Almighty God. David says His praise will continually be on his lips. I admit that I struggle with murmuring when things seem hopeless and situations are frustrating. I have been this way for too long and too much lately. It has done nothing but hold me down, make me feel serious and not enjoy this wonderful life God has given me. It has made me feel self-pity and downtrodden and wonder if this life is even worth living. I've had one of those "what's the use?" attitudes. I hate when I get this way.

Sooooo .... I am going to start praising the Lord. I have to remind myself to rejoice in my God and not get down about my circumstances. Who is bigger? God or my problems? Pop is a great example. He keeps praise constantly on his lips by singing praises to the Lord. I can learn from him and be joyful.

I am a child of the King of Kings...why am I worried and frustrated? We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. And God so loved the world that He gave. Even while we were yucky, rotten sinners in rebellion against God, He looked at us with compassion and love and did for us what we never could do for ourselves. We were people in bondage to our own filth and sinful ways. Really, even now I cannot grasp how awful sin is to God, but I was covered in my own filthy, sinful ways when God reached down, cleaned me off with the blood of His dear Son and set my feet on a Rock. He didn't leave me trapped in a pit of filth, but He established where I am going. And He promised to be with me and never forsake me. In a country where so many people are forsaken by those who vowed to love and cherish them and where friendships are often shallow, it is wonderful to know that God is faithful and keeps His promises. He doesn't remove the storms from life, but He walks with us through them. If God be for us, who can be against us?

Thank you, God, for the hope that I have in You. Please help me keep my eyes on You instead of focusing on the discouraging news in this world. YOU are bigger than those things. "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world."

My God reigns! Hallelujah!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My grandparents

Dan and Mary Truax
better known as Pop and Mema
Christmas Eve 2007

One of Pop's carvings

A note Pop wrote and put on the door of his apartment.

A typical pose ... what a ham!

Some of Pop's drawings of his life in Africa

One year of marriage!

These pictures was taken a year ago today when my youngest sibling married in Myrtle Beach, SC on June 26, 2007! It's hard to believe a full year has passed in some ways. Michael was the ring bearer.

Happy anniversary, David and Megan!

Btw, David is still "Berkie" to me. Family nicknames are hard to drop even if your sibling is 21 years old now! :-D

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Slavery -- me

I thought I'd take a few minutes to write this morning. Our new church building is complete, and our first joint service is at 10:30. Instead of 3 morning services, there will be only one. We had been going to the 9:45 service.

While searching for something about the UN the other morning, I came across the slavery article (previous post) written by Thomas Sowell. I have read articles from Sowell and Walter Williams since my high school days. In a country where 90+% of the black people vote for the same candidate, I like to read from black men who have a different viewpoint than the masses. I also read Leonard Pitts who is much more liberal than Sowell and Williams, but I find he makes a lot of sense quite often as well. At least his arguments seem sensible. He has helped me understand the "African-American mind" a bit better.

Personally I never owned a slave nor do I know an actual slave or former slave, and I live in the South. From all I know, my ancestors were poor, white folks, and I know my dad worked with black people in tobacco fields in Caswell County when he grew up in the 1950s and '60s. For me, reparations would be taking a step backwards in race relations. Why punish people living today for something their ancestors did? And why reward people living now who never were slaves? I believe reparations would cause a lot of hard feelings. I am tired of "white guilt" and "American guilt." I'm tired of guilt period. I agree that slavery was a shameful part of America's past, but, thank God, it is in the past! Let's leave it there. I was glad to find Sowell's article and see that the African nations were much to blame for the slave trade. Reading on Wikipedia, I found that slavery is practiced in some African and Asian nations EVEN TODAY! The white Americans did not invent slavery nor have we continued with it. Let's get over it and move on. You don't make much progress while looking behind you.

Philippians 3:

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Slavery - Thomas Sowell

The United Nations of Reparations Hypocrisy

by Thomas Sowell (September 7, 2001)

Perhaps Secretary of State Colin Powell's decision to pull the American delegation out of the so-called U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, will be just a footnote in history. But we can at least hope that it may be a turning point toward a future time when "racism" will no longer be a magic word used to gain money or political concessions.

Within the United States, Jesse Jackson and others have repeatedly scared millions of dollars out of big corporations, just by threatening to use the magic word "racism." Even the police have sometimes turned a blind eye to violations of the law, lest they be tarred with that magic word that will bring the whole liberal media crashing down on them. But letting criminal activity go on unimpeded and unpunished has hurt minority communities most of all.

Against this background, it was to be expected that some African and Arab nations would hope that invoking this magic word might scare some money out of the United States as "reparations" for slavery and get some kind of United Nations condemnation of Israel as a bonus. But this time the magic didn't work.

Singling out Israel to blame for the Middle East's problems was probably the straw that broke the camel's back, leading both the U.S. and Israel to withdraw their delegations from the conference in Durban. Arab caricatures of Jews with big noses and bloody fangs were hardly a way of being against racism.

The real world-class chutzpah, however, was the demand of African and Arab nations for reparations of slavery. Just who do you suppose enslaved the millions of Africans who ended up in the Western Hemisphere? It was the Africans. And who enslaved the even greater number of millions of African slaves who ended up in the Islamic world? It was the Arabs.

During the era of African slavery, Europeans died like flies in tropical Africa, where diseases flourished for which they had no biological immunity and for which medical science had yet to devise a cure. Capturing people to sell into slavery was the work of Africans in West Africa and of Arabs and Africans in East Africa.

Europeans came in their ships, bought slaves from the Africans, and then left the scene quickly before they fell sick from African diseases. Even so, many white crewmen on the ships bringing slaves from Africa to the Western Hemisphere died on the way. The notion that it was white people who introduced slavery to Africa, or who captured most of the slaves themselves, may fit the mindset of those who thought that "Roots" was history, but this myth will not stand up to facts, logic or economics.

Since it was the Africans and the Arabs who actually caught and sold slaves, do the African and Arab nations plan to send reparations over here to the descendants of enslaved Africans living in the Western Hemisphere? Of course not. They want the United States to lay some of those American dollars on them! We have fallen for so many other sucker plays in the past, why not try this one on us?

When slavery is mentioned, too many people automatically think of whites enslaving blacks. That is not even one-tenth of the story of slavery, which existed on every inhabited continent. The very word "slave" derives from the word for some white people who were enslaved on a mass scale -- the Slavs -- for more centuries than blacks were enslaved in the Western Hemisphere.

Moreover, slavery existed in the Western Hemisphere before the first black or white person ever set foot on these shores. The indigenous peoples of this hemisphere enslaved one another, just as Asians enslaved Asians, Europeans enslaved Europeans, and Africans enslaved Africans. Attempts to limit the discussion of slavery to slavery in the United States or in Western civilization make sense only as a strategy to get money or political concessions.

Western civilization was the first civilization to regard slavery as morally wrong and it is the civilization with the most sense of guilt about it. To this very moment slavery continues in parts of Africa and the Islamic world. Very little noise is made about it by those who denounce the slavery of the past in the West, because there is no money to be made denouncing it and no political advantages to be gained.

If the American delegation walking out of the U.N. Conference Against Racism represented a belated waking up to the scams being played, that could be a very healthy sign for the future -- not only on the international scene, but within the United States as well.


Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Michael aka "Cody"?

While at the beach last week, Michael watched a few minutes of a Disney show called Zack & Cody. He thought Cody was a cool name so he decided to adopt it for himself. He even told his mom he would tell the child-care worker at the gym about his new name. He informed me at McDonald's on Monday. Previously he shortened his name to "Mike." He even signed my dad's Father's Day card "M-i-k-e." But Mike is a normal nickname for Michael. Cody is just a name he liked and decided to call himself.

Note: This beach picture was from August 2007 not this most recent trip.


It is 10 PM and I am tired, but I wanted to write something here quickly. My heart was blessed today by a gracious and forgiving friend. Unfortunately I have been angry and proud quite a lot the last several days. I have wanted things understood MY way and have been very defensive and unfair to my friend expressing his opinions and differing perspectives. Today my friend and I were talking and I mentioned how sorry I was and how he did not deserve an angry friend. (Indeed my friend is 11 years younger than I, but acts like the more mature adult by far! ) His kind response touched my heart and made me even more appreciative of his loving and forgiving nature. He wrote:

Honestly by your thoughts you are underestimating my love to you and my appreciation for our friendship

I am not used to people like that! Actually I am not used to being so honest with most people. I tend to avoid potentially-divisive topics and keep things "shallow" in order to avoid situations where my temper gets the best of me and I regret my reaction. I am very thankful for a friend who talks with me about these harder topics (politics & religion especially) and loves me even when I am arrogant and rude and shameful in my actions. I thank God for those who love unconditionally. Thank you, my dear friend. I'm proud to call you my "little Shami brother."

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Heavenly Man

The Heavenly Man is "the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun" with Paul Hattaway. What a challenging book of how God is working in the lives of Christians in China to take the message of salvation to this land that wanted to stamp out religion. "By 1958 the government had closed all visible churches. Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, told foreign visitors, 'Christianity in China has been confined to the history section of the museum. It is dead and buried.' In the 1970s a visiting Christian delegation from the United States reported, 'There is not a single Christian left in China.'" How wrong they were!

God breathed life into China and the Church there has grown into "a force tens of millions strong today [and] is a sign not only of God's existence but also of His matchless power."

This book was incredible! It read like the Book of Acts ...something Western Christians often cannot grasp with our minds that God still works this way. After spending time in the West, Brother Yun remarked that there seems to be something missing from our churches. "In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don't rise up and walk in Jesus' name. In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there's nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord." Because of persecution, Brother Yun says, "It's almost impossible for the church in China to go to sleep in its present situation. There's always something to keep us on the run, and it's very difficult to sleep while you're running. If persecution stops, I fear we'll become complacent and fall asleep."

To wake up sleeping Western churches, Brother Yun says to return to the Word of God because the "truth will make you free." Also missing is obedience to the Word. "You can never really know the Scriptures until you're ready to be changed by them." He claims that "all genuine revivals of the Lord result in believers responding with action and soul winning. When God truly moves in your heart you cannot remain silent."

He recounts offerings in China where if the leader announced someone was planning to travel to a mission field the next day, the people would empty their pockets of everything for this missionary's travel expenses. This money wasn't simply all they had in their pockets, but often it was all that they possessed period.

Other interesting things besides Yun's 74-day fast without food or water, his miraculous escape from a maximum security prison, and the way God used him to lead others to Christ while imprisoned in China 3 times and Myanmar once:

* Yun said he never was much for singing, but once he accepted Jesus as Lord, he became a singer. (Psalm 40:
3 "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." Is this why most Christians love to sing praises to the Lord?) Many times in the book, Yun shared songs he sang while in prison or with fellow believers in the house churches. This story was particularly enjoyable to me:

When I first shared at Gao Village, the Lord gave me Scripture songs to sing before the people. They wrote down the words so they could remember them.
One of the songs was taken from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus tells us if someone strikes us on the right cheek, we should turn our other cheek to him as well. Another song taught how we are to rejoice greatly when we are persecuted for the sake of the gospel. Yet another song explained how we should never be like Judas and deny our Master.
After so many people came to Jesus at once, it caught the attention of the authorities. All the Christians in Gao Village were arrested and taken to the police station. The officers demanded to know, "Who brought the name of Jesus to you? How did you all come to believe in this superstition?"
The believers were filled with overwhelming joy. The only thing they would say was, "We won't be like Judas! We won't betray our Lord Jesus!"
The officers started to beat them and they rejoiced even more. They said, "Please, sir, hit us on the other side of the face as well!" The Christians were laughing and rejoicing.
The officers grew tired of beating them and finally said, "You Christians are all crazy!" After a final warning, they sent them all home. (page 41)

* Although the local Chinese believers take care of the families of those in prison for Christ, they are often extremely poor and cannot adequately provide. After seeing how his own family suffered while he was in prison, Yun "made a commitment to the Lord that [he] would not allow the families of any other imprisoned Christians in China to suffer similar deprivation." He has done all he can to raise support for families of those in prison for the gospel's sake. (Voice of the Martyrs has a "Family of the Martyrs" fund that helps with these types of expenses as well. I really appreciate the ministry of VOM .... see www.persecution.com.)

* "When we arrive at the end of our own strength it is not defeat, but the start of tapping into God's boundless resources. It is when we are weak that we are strong in God." (page 194)

* "In China, Christians are persecuted with beatings and imprisonments. In the West, Christians are persecuted by the words of other Christians." (page 308)

* Yun: "We are absolutely nothing. We have nothing to be proud about. We have no abilities and nothing to offer God. The fact that He chooses to use us is only due to His grace. It has nothing to do with us. If God should choose to raise up others for His purpose and never use us again we would have nothing to complain about." (p. 345)

* Deling, wife: "When I was younger I saw God as a mighty healer who did something for me, but after all these years of valleys and painful trials, Jesus has become an ever-present friend who is with me all the time. He has gone from being a historical God to being a living God to me today. I've fallen short many times during these trials and testings, but he has always been faithful. Whenever I've asked him to help me He always has. Jesus is everything and we are nothing." (p. 346)

To see Brother Yun's current involvement, check out www.backtojerusalem.com. The Chinese Christians are obeying God and are making plans for 100,000 of them to witness to the more than 2 billion people who live west and south of China in what is often referred to as the 10/40 window. They said Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist governments cannot do anything worse to them than what their own government did. If they are killed, they will be with Christ which is far better. They are learning Arabic and English now so they can go forth bringing precious souls into the family of God.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Generous conservatives

Just yesterday I asked some of my online friends why liberals were often seen as more caring than conservatives, and this morning I found a review about this man's book in a magazine my BIL loaned us! Neat timing! :-) Arthur Brooks "a (now former) Democrat raised by leftist academic parents, describes himself as a 'behavioral economist.' He researched ten years of data and scientific surveys to get the true picture of giving in America and in 2006 he published Who Really Cares? America's Charity Divide: Who Gives, Who Doesn't and Why It Matters. The results of his research shocked him into fear: 'The New York Times Book Review, they're going to flatten me. I'm just dead,' he fretted to The [Syracuse, NY] Post-Standard. He also admitted to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: 'In my preconceptions, I was in the usual box about charitability and compassion . . . I figured conservatives were hardheaded, pragmatic, tough-minded but didn't care a much about others and wouldn't donate as much ... I figured liberals were softhearted and cared more.' Wrong."

Here is a bit about the author from his website. The reviews are from Amazon.com from people who read it. I only read a few of the reviews, but I thought these were interesting enough to share.

Arthur C. Brooks is Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Whitman School of Management. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The author of Who Really Cares, he writes and speaks widely on the connections among culture, politics, and economic life, and his work appears frequently in the Wall Street Journal and other publications. Previously, he spent twelve years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles. A native of Seattle, Washington, he currently lives with his family in Syracuse, New York.

December 23, 2006
This book took me by complete surprise. The liberal left's mantra is all about helping the poor and downtrodden and shaming the conservatives for not doing more. Well, I have to say, you're not compassionate when you're spending other people's money. If that's the one point you take away from " Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism" it's a good thing. Most American's old enough to vote should know by now relying on the government to cure the country's ills doesn't work and never has. It takes the individual with the heart and desire to make life better for others to make a difference. If you go through life walking past poverty feeling good because you paid your taxes, think again. Both sides pay their taxes (hopefully) yet this research shows conservatives dig a little deeper into their own wallets and schedule and give more. Arthur C. Brooks makes you think twice about public opinion and why they feel the liberals are more compassionate. I think this is a book that sheds light on the central core issue...who is making an actual difference in the lives of others and who does a good job talking about it!!

Honest. Illuminating. Myth-bustiing. Refreshing.,
January 3, 2007
By Jeffrey E Ellis (Naperville, IL USA) - See all my reviews
For years, the common wisdom in our culture has been that conservatives are selfish, self-centered, and greedy. After all, wasn't the "me generation" of the 80's about those conservative republicans? On the other hand, liberals really cared about people, cared about the poor and the hungry in America and around the world...In fact, America was a selfish nation, using up most of the world's resources in pursuit of its selfish motives...

Well, the popular culture was wrong. The media was wrong. And the liberal politicians were wrong.

As it turns out, to the surprise of Arthur Brooks, the opposite is true. Liberals care but mainly with other people's money. Their rhetoric isn't backed up by their personal generosity with either their time or their money.

On the other hand, the most generous group in America are conservatives. Religion seems to be the major factor and, for whatever reason, conservatives are made up by the faithful. They give and give a lot - more than any other factor, age, geography, income level, education, gender or any other control measure, being a person of faith is the major factor in a person's charity.

Until their arms grow longer and their hearts measure up to their rhetoric, liberals need to tone down the political propaganda. America is the most generous nation on earth and conservatives the most caring, giving people.

The truth is out--secularists are coldhearted Scrooges
January 27, 2007
Brooks started out buying the usual stereotypes of conservative selfishness and liberal generosity. That the political left is compassionate and charitable to the less fortunate is the sturdiest plank of the liberal belief system.

Masses of research later, Brooks was forced to admit he had swallowed a lie. In fact, there was plenty of proof, unanswerable piles of proof, that it was the Christian conservatives who had hearts of gold when it came to giving to others; liberal secularists had hearts made from lumps of coal.

Here is one telling fact: "Families in San Francisco give almost exactly the same amount to charity each year as families in South Dakota" (p 31) although the families in San Francisco had a 78% more personal income. So maybe the secularists in San Francisco give a lot to friends instead of charities. Well, no. "People belonging to religious congregations were 8% more likely to give money to family and friends...Furthermore, the value...was, on average, 46% higher" (p 39).

By all measures, a Christian is simply more charitable. More likely to give to the homeless, to feed the homeless, to donate blood, or even to return the correct change. Religion matters. Beliefs matter. And, apparently, lack of belief matters, too. Secularists were not only less charitable, they were always more likely to grumble that charities 'waste donations'.

Nor is this a pattern found only in the US. In Europe, where religion seems to no longer exist, private charities have simply vanished. Europeans prefer to believe that their tax system is their charity, but it is not. Simply put: Americans give more to charity--much, much more, no matter how things are calculated. They also volunteer more, or, at least, the Christians among us do. American secularists tend to stay home, like their European counterparts.

I am currently reading "Shutting Out the Sun" a book about Japan, where the author mentions that the homeless Japanese are being cared for by...Christian Koreans.

comprehensive and easy to read,
December 3, 2006

Keep this quote from John Adams in mind as you read this book: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

The author is a professor at Syracuse. He was raised a liberal, was liberal most his life, but in grad school he studied public policy and then became an independent.

The author did not conduct these surveys. He used data from reputable sources (government agencies, non-partisan research groups, etc.). Here are some key findings of his research:

Nearly the same percentage of liberals and conservatives do volunteer work (1% difference), but conservatives donate much more time

The same percentage of liberals and conservatives donate money, but conservatives donate 30% more and earn 6% less

Conservatives give more money than liberals in every income class

Poor people who don't accept welfare give much more than poor people who do accept welfare

religious people give more than non-religious people

religious people give more to secular causes than non-religious people

The average family in San Francisco and South Dakota both give $1300 away each year, even though families in San Francisco make 78% more!

The percent of people that give to charity is higher among poor people who don't believe in income redistribution than rich people who favor income redistribution (welfare, closing the income gap, etc.) !!! [It is easy to want to give other people's money away and pat yourself on the back for advocating it, all the time calling people uncompassionate for not agreeing with you.]

People whose parents were charitable are more likely to be charitable

If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply in the U.S. would increase 45%

Of the twenty-five states in 2004 that donated a portion of household income above the national average, twenty-four gave a majority of their popular votes to George W. Bush for president

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I am blessed

This is a picture I took July 4, 2007 at my aunt's house.

I had a relaxing stay-at-home day and got quite a few things done. My house still needs cleaning, but I feel as if I got many things accomplished otherwise.

It is smoky and hazy outside due to wildfires in the eastern part of the state. The smoke has traveled hundreds of miles and made it look white outdoors. I heard NC was in a code red for air quality. Makes you appreciate clean air!

Truthfully, I have been blessed greatly by God. There are so many things I take for granted as just being "normal" for all, but they are not. I don't know why God chose me to be born in a country where I can enjoy freedoms that He gave to mankind. I know I did nothing to deserve His favor, and it is only by His grace. Too often I complain, get discouraged and stop being thankful when I should always remember to have praise for God on my lips! Christians should be the most joyful people on earth because they have the hope of God in them! Why do we allow ourselves to walk around discouraged then? Why do we gripe and grow bitter? It's a nasty habit! I've heard if you do something consistently for 21 days, it will become a habit. I want an "attitude of gratitude." I want to meet each problem with a "what do you want to teach me from this, Lord" instead of a "why me, Lord." I am much too spoiled. I need good character.

Something else on my mind these days: how do I step out in faith? It's all well and good to talk about having faith, but the real test comes when you act on that faith and LIVE by faith every day. Do I trust God enough or am I still listening to fear? Fear always holds me back and keeps me small and weak. I want to know the joy of serving God by walking closely with Him by faith.

Enough spiritual reflections for now. Maybe I will read a book instead. Good night!

3 more books I've read

More books I've read:

The Case for Faith
by Lee Strobel; Author investigates 8 of the toughest objections to Christianity:

Since Evil and Suffering Exist, a Loving God Cannot
Since Miracles Contradict Science, They Cannot Be True
Evolution Explains Life, So God Isn't Needed
God Isn't Worthy of Worship If He Kills Innocent Children
It's Offensive to Claim Jesus Is the Only Way to God
A Loving God Would Never Torture People in Hell
Church History Is Littered with Oppression and Violence
I Still Have Doubts, So I Can't Be a Christian

I especially enjoyed learning some new things about evolutionists in the third chapter. The case for God not being worthy of worship (# 4) answered some questions I had concerning the Old Testament battles. I am glad to have some answers. I found the chapter on church history very good. The final case on still having doubts was wonderful as well. Although parts of this book were a bit over my head, mostly it was beneficial. I only had problems with the chapter on hell because the scholar interviewed didn't believe in a literal fire. It was just something I was unfamiliar with and since I'd just read 23 Minutes in Hell not long before, I was not on the same page as the scholar. Overall, very good book. Recommend.

Does My Head Look Too Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
The author is a Muslim lady of Palestinian and Egyptian descent who lives in Australia. Her book was recommended in an e-mail I receive from The Crescent Project. I found it in the youth fiction section of the public library. This book is about a teenage Muslim who decides to start wearing the hijab. It shows how typical she is and basically shows her at school and home and with her friends. The e-mail said this book would help us gain some insight to Muslims. Here is a review:

"The details of Amal's family and social life are spot-on, and the book is wonderful at showing the diversity within Muslim communities and in explaining why so many women choose to wear the hijab."- School Library Journal

Meeting Islam: A Guide for Christians by George Dardess

This book was written by a Catholic deacon in Rochester, NY. He presented many aspects of Islam in a pleasant way by comparing and contrasting them with Biblical counterparts. For instance, he showed how the hijab and the veil of the temple were related and how they differed. He touched on Isa of the Qu'ran compared to Jesus of the Bible without getting into the major differences Muslims and Christians have here. I learned about salat, taqwa (compared to the ten virgins in the Bible -- watchfulness, readiness), abd and wali (compared to Mary and Martha), jihad and the Christian's "fighting the good fight of faith," takbir and "hallowed by Thy name."

While I sincerely admire the author for his genuine love for Muslims in his area and for the way he and the Muslims have formed alliances, I was left wondering about a few things in this book. Namely, the author seems to think the Qu'ran is from God. I got the impression from him that both the Bible and Qu'ran were from God so I was left confused how he came to this conclusion and kept his Christianity intact. This book gave me a real appreciation for the devotion of Muslims, but it raised a lot of questions which I would have loved for the author to address. The Bible says God is not the author of confusion, but having two "words of God" IS confusing when their messages concerning salvation are vastly different. Both may be wrong, but both cannot be right. Can they?

How to Deal with Enemies

This was from my pastor's message on Wednesday night. How difficult is this?

Lessons from the Life of David

How to Deal with Enemies

I Samuel 16:13-15 speaks of the Spirit of the Lord being with David and an evil spirit tormenting Saul. Those two spirits are enemies of one another, and they influence the ones who have them in their lives. Therefore God's Spirit was influencing David while the evil spirit of Saul sought to destroy David.

Jesus speaks of how people will hate those who know the Lord because they do not know the One Who sent Jesus.

In John 15, Jesus says:

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me."

How does Satan work through people in our lives?

1. Unjust treatment -- I Samuel 18:13 - because of jealousy, Saul demoted David; unjust treatment can happen at work, home, church, anywhere

2. Deception -- I Samuel 18:20,21 - this speaks of times you practice supposed kindness in order to destroy someone; hypocrisy; acting nice to someone's face while plotting to destroy them

3. Unjust accusation -- I Samuel 20:30,31 - Saul sought to destroy David's reputation and divide friends

Lying and murdering comes from Satan. Jesus said in John 8,

44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

We learned that David was demoted unjustly, but he didn't choose to seek revenge or talk bad about his treatment. Look at what David did instead:

14 And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him. (I Samuel 18:14)

How did David respond to his enemy?

1. He honored unjust authority -- David trusted God to take care of the situation

Romans 12 says,

19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“ If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]

2. He served his enemy -- I Samuel 19:9 - David played the harp for Saul to soothe him when the evil spirit troubled Saul

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[h]

3. He refused to defend himself -- He never said, "Let me tell my side!" Instead He allowed God to take care of him. Like Jesus (Isaiah 53:7), David trust his life to the One who judges righteously.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.

4. He refused to retaliate -- I Samuel 24:1-5 - David could have killed Saul easily a couple times, but he refused to lift his hand against the Lord's anointed. Instead he used these testings from God to build character. Character comes from trials so instead of seeking an easy life, learn to "count it all joy" when you go through these troubles.

James 1 reminds us:

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

5. He humbled himself before his enemy -- I Samuel 24:8-10 -- Remember "a soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).

6. He waited for God's justice in promotion -- II Samuel 2:4 -- The Bible reminds us to "wait on the Lord." Allow Him to handle our enemies as we seek to please Him with our lives.

I Samuel 18:14 says, "and the Lord was with him." -- David chose to honor God, and God protected him, promoted him and prospered him.

Verse 16 tells us, "all Israel and Judah loved David."

Proverbs 16:7 says,
When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.


Psalm 75 reminds us,

6 For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
7 But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.

Think of Joseph. How is brothers sought to get rid of him by selling him into slavery in Egypt. But God allowed Joseph to find favor with the jailer and eventually the Pharaoh. What men meant for evil, God meant for good. Trust Him to work all things out for your good.

Proverbs 3:5,6

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.

Romans 8:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Books from Arab Christians

More books I've read . . .

To My Muslim Friends by Anis Behnam

From the introduction,

As a Christian who grew up in Egypt and had many Muslim friends whose friendship I really cherished, I must state that during the 28 years I lived in Egypt, I have never been insulted or prejudiced against by any Muslim.

While it is proper or even essential to have strong convictions, it is improper to speak in a derogatory way against other people's religion. It is acceptable for a Christian preacher to teach the tenets of the faith and to refute any teaching that contradicts the Bible, but it is not acceptable to use derogatory language on TV for example. It is understandable that a Muslim Imam would exhort his listeners to hold firmly to the teachings of the Qu'ran, but it is not right to describe Christians as infidels when his words are carried by a microphone and are heard by Christians. Such actions by either side will not gain the speaker new converts. It will only result in hatred and can even lead the fanatic and the less stable into erratic behavior, including criminal acts.

The Bible gives us good examples of how to preach to people of other religions. We are not to attack them or insult them, but simply present the Good News. When the Apostle Paul went to Ephesus and spent three years there, he preached the good news of salvation, but did not attack the pagan religion, nor did he speak against the false goddess Diana. ... But he always presented the truth and prayed for the salvation of the people to whom he presented the good news of salvation.

It is my wish to follow the same principle. To present what I believe and the reader examine what I say, and then decide for himself. God does not force anyone to embrace a religion against his will. This is just not God's way. Furthermore, I will do so with a spirit of love. This is why I called it "To my Muslim Friends" because friendship enables us to discuss matters in a friendly way and prevents us from hurting each other's feelings. I also wrote this because of my appreciation for the many Muslim friends whose moral character I admire, and who have been faithful in their friendship. With some of them, I have enjoyed friendly discussions of important religious issues. The purpose of this booklet is to discuss the main biblical doctrines which are often misunderstood by the sincere Muslim, or that seem to him to be blasphemy.

"Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8)

The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross and the e-mail addendum by Nabeel Jabbour offer insights from an Arab Christian who lived in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. It explains to western Christians the baggage they bring when they try to present the Gospel to Muslims. The author shows us how our message, the messenger (us) and the receiver (the one to whom we are witnessing) have problems when we present the Gospel. Also the author shows us how we have put "western wrappings" around the Gospel. By seeking to stand in the shoes of the many Muslims he has talked with over the years, the author seeks to show us how we look and our message looks through Muslim eyes. This is a tremendous book, very challenging. It made me feel as if my Arab Muslim friend wrote half of it because the author so completely conveyed the Muslim perspective on many issues including Israel and the Palestinians! One of the best books I have read on this subject! The author has a love for Muslims and this is conveyed by his desire to show us how to be effective witnesses. The author also challenges us to look at the Bible through Middle Eastern/Arab lenses instead of our western ones. GREAT book. Highly recommend. Would like to read it again myself.

The Destiny of Islam in the End Times

Another book I read this year . . .

The Destiny of Islam in the End Times -- Faisal Malick, a former Sunni Muslim from Pakistan, conveys his heart for Muslims by sharing the history of Abraham's firstborn son, Ishmael, with hopes that Westerners will understand the cry of Ishmael's heart for a father. He speaks of the descendants of Ishmael and those who follow Islam and shares what God has revealed to him concerning these precious people.

The author dedicated the book as follows:

I dedicate this book to Ishmael and the 1.6 billion Muslim people he represents. You are not forgotten - you are chosen for such a time as this. This is your season to embrace the truth about your origin and your end-time destiny, planned before creation. Your cry will be heard, and you will behold the invisible at this hour.

Isaiah 65

1 "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'

Here are some reviews.

The Western mind, for the most part, does not comprehend the vast world of Muslim thought, or the history of Islam. Faisal Malick has with great skill, love, and compassion, opened to us the inner workings of this world of thought and religion. From the genesis of Islam to present Muslim thought, Faisal writes so all can understand God's love for all humanity and desire to connect these dear people with the Lord Jesus Christ.

This book has helped me set aside preconceived judgments and realize that Muslims are a people hungry for truth, love, and understanding.

- Rev. Norm Maclaren
Vice President, Ministry
Crossroads Christian Communications

Faisal Malick's book not only brings amazingly clear understanding into the dynamics of Islam, but it also imparts a burden into the heart of the reader, as well as a love for the Muslim people. You will experience a major paradigm shift in your view of this precious people, and possibly conviction and repentance, as you see them through the eyes of God's destiny for them.

- Steve Shultz
Founder, The ElijahList,
ElijahRain Magazine, and Prophetic TV

Terrorists! Muslims! Arabs! For many in the Christian world these three groups are all thrown into one set—enemies to be avoided. But to the God of Heaven who loves the world and sent His Son to die for all, these are people to be loved. As you read this book, be prepared to also receive a call from the Lord to do something. The Lord has been speaking to me about the Muslim people from many sources, including dreams and prophetic words. When I read this book, my heart leapt with joy because I gained clarity about God's plan to reach the whole world. And I now know that I have a part to play in this drama of the endtimes—and I intend to fulfill it. My life was deeply impacted by Faisal Malick's work The Destiny of Islam in the Endtime.

- Rich Marshall
Author, God@Work (Vol.1 & 2)

The Destiny of Islam in the Endtime helped me to differentiate between "radical Islam" and the descendants of Ishmael. Faisal Malick brings hope to any Christian who has deemed the Muslim people too difficult to reach with the Gospel. His testimony is exciting, his faith inspirational, and his vision revolutionary. The Destiny of Islam has renewed my burden and love for all of Abraham's children. I highly recommend this book.

- Dr. Ron Burgio
President, Elim Fellowship
Sr. Pastor, Love Joy Gospel Church

The author writes:

Terrorism causes the world and the Churches to say, "Forget the Muslim people, give up on them, let's get rid of them!" But God wants the Church to wake up and know He has not forgotten them nor forsaken them, but He has a plan for them.

Perfect love casts out fear. While the enemy is trying to harden the Church with hatred for Muslims, Jesus is releasing His love into our hearts to tenderize us to hear the Word of the Lord for this season concerning all of God's children.

Satan would have us believe that all Muslims want to harm us. Are you afraid of Muslims?

The Case for Christ & 23 Minutes in Hell

I've been reading so many good books lately, I wanted to write a few notes so I can remember which book dealt with which topics.

The Case for Christ -- After his wife unpleasantly surprised him by announcing she had become a Christian, but pleasantly surprised him by the good changes in her life, atheist and Chicago Tribune investigative reporter Lee Strobel went on a journey around America to interview scholars concerning the Biblical Jesus Christ. In this book he presents what he found that lead him to believe for himself that Jesus is the Son of God. Lee said although these interviews lead him to believe in Christ, the biggest evidence of Christ's power is the radical change in his own previously immoral life. He said even his very young daughter noticed this positive change in her daddy!

One of my favorite parts is where one scholar talks of how different the apostles were after Jesus' resurrection. Before Christ died, the disciples were often timid and doubtful, but after they saw the resurrected Christ, they proclaimed the salvation story with boldness. They even suffered persecution and most were martyred because of their firm beliefs in Christ. As one noted, many people will die for things they sincerely believe in even if it is not true. However men do not die for a known lie. The disciples knew the resurrection was not a lie -- they saw the risen Lord. Therefore, they boldly witnessed because they knew persecution on earth is nothing compared to the glory of Heaven, and they were not afraid to suffer for the Truth's sake. "When the Son makes you free, you are free indeed."

23 Minutes in Hell -- This book is very sobering and reminds the reader of the realities of hell. Actually hell is so much worse than the human mind can imagine -- and it lasts for eternity! You do not want anyone to go there! Hell was created for the devil and the fallen angels, but we will go there if we refuse to accept God's offer of salvation through His Son. God doesn't send us to hell. Our unbelief does. God will not force you into His presence, His home, Heaven ... so come to Him through His Son.


When I got my composure, at least enough to start forming thoughts, I thought about saying to the Lord, I don't even think I asked Him out loud, I just thought it and He answered me. I said, "Lord why did You send me to this place? Why did you send me here?" He said to me "Because people do not believe that this place exists." He said "Even some of my own people do not believe this place is real." I was shocked at that statement. I thought every Christian has got to believe in Hell. But not everyone believes in a literal burning Hell. I said Lord "why did you pick me?" But He didn't answer me on that question.

I have no idea why He picked me to go there. I'm the least likely to go to this place. My wife and I hate evil movies. We hate anything bad. I don't even like the summer time, much less heat. It's filthy. There's no order. It's all chaos and disorder and disgusting. And I love everything orderly and excellent. He didn't answer me on that question. He said to me, "Go tell them that I hate this place, that it's not my desire for one of my creation to go to this place, not one! I never made this for man. This was made for the devil and his angels. You have to go and tell them! I've given you a mouth, you go and tell them."

I thought to myself, "but Lord, they're not going to believe me. They're going to think I'm crazy or had a bad dream." I mean wouldn't you think that? As I thought this the Lord answered me and He said, "It's not your job to convince them. It's the Holy Spirit�s job! You just go and tell them!" And it was just inside, "Yes Sir!" Absolutely, I have to go and tell them." You can't worry and fear what man is going to think of you, you just have to go and do it and let God do the rest. Amen? And I said, "Lord, why did they hate me so much?" "Why did these creatures hate me?" He said, "Because you're made in my image, and they hate me." You know the devil can't do anything against God. He can't hurt God, per say, but he can hurt His creation. That's why the devil hates mankind, and deceives him into taking him into Hell. And he inflicts diseases upon him, anything he can do to hurt God's creation.

(The Peace of God)
And then God flooded me with His thoughts. He let me touch a piece of His heart, of how much He loves mankind. Unbelievable, I couldn't even take it. It was so overbearing. The love He has for man, you can't take it in this body. You know how much we love our wives and our children? Well the love we have can't even be compared to the love God has for us. His love is infinitely greater than our love and our ability to love. It's just the same as it says in
Eph 3:19, �...to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge...� It goes so far past knowledge, you can't even grasp it. I couldn't believe how much He loved mankind, that He would die for just one person to not go to this place. And it hurts Him so much to see one of His creation going to this place. It pains the Lord, He weeps to see one person going. And I felt so bad for the Lord.

I felt His heart, He let me just touch a piece of His heart. He felt such sadness for His creation going there. And I thought "I've got to go out and witness and take every last breath I have and go tell the world about Jesus, How good He is." I mean, we have the gospel. It's good news. It's good news, and the world doesn't know. They have to be told! You know, we have to share this knowledge. People just have a lack of knowledge in this area. God wants us to share with them how good He is, and how He hates this place.

He said to me also, "Tell them I am coming very, very soon." And He said it again, "Tell them I'm coming very, very soon." Now I think, why didn't I say to him, "What do you mean Lord? What's 'soon' to you?" That's how we think. But I didn't ask. You just don't think to ask those things then. You just want to worship Him so much. The peace of God that comes over you being next to Him is unexplainable. I've been in anointed services, but there is no comparison to the love and the peace of God you feel being next to Him.

And then I looked up and I saw those demons on the wall, that were so ferocious, they looked like ants on the wall! They just looked like ants! They were still big, but with the power of God next to you, all of God's creative power, they looked like ants on the wall. I couldn't get over it. I thought, "Lord they're just ants!" And He said, "You just have to bind them and cast them out in my name." I thought "boy, the power He's given the church." These things that were so ferocious, we were no match for a devil without Jesus, none. They're ferocious, but with Him, they are nothing! A boldness rose up in me right then, when I saw these creatures I felt like saying, "you creatures were the ones torturing me, wanting to tear me apart? Come on! Come on now!" Maybe a little bit of my flesh rose up or something, you know, I thought,�Jesus get 'em."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beach Pictures

Michael at the build-your-own-car store.
Broadway at the Beach
June 8, 2008

Can you find the skeleton head?


Michael in the suite at Plantation Resort
Surfside Beach, SC
June 9, 2008

Michael with his new Indiana Jones whip. He ate McDonald's food.
And LOOK who is watching cartoons....ummmhmmm. ;-)

It'Sugar & Pirate

It'Sugar is a new store at Broadway at the Beach.
They had this cool castle made out of over 200,000 Jelly Bellys!

Michael was in candy heaven!

All sorts of candy!

Andrew and Michael found some edible Legos and a few other treats.

Michael posed with the pirate at Key West Grill.

Fun at Broadway at the Beach

Michael and Grandma pose for a picture at one store at Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach, SC. June 8, 2008

I found a sign made just for me! :-D

Who knew coffee was the needed ingredient? I don't even like the stuff!

Aha! Yes, another fitting sign!

Andrew and Stephanie take time to pose for a picture. June 8, 2008

Vacation Pictures

Michael enjoyed jumping the waves at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on June 8, 2008.

Checking out the Atlantic Ocean.

Broadway at the Beach
Myrtle Beach, SC - June 8, 2008

Broadway at the Beach
Myrtle Beach, SC

Monday, June 9, 2008

Beach Trip

We got home from the beach around 8:30 this evening. Had an enjoyable time. It was plenty hot which is good for being in the water. We spent a lot of time in the pool and walked some in the ocean. My mom, Stephanie, Andrew, Michael and I left Saturday morning and arrived in Myrtle Beach, SC around 1:00, I believe. We stayed at the Plantation Resort in Surfside Beach a few miles south of Myrtle Beach. I enjoyed meeting some of Steph's church friends, Marie and Travis Loy. They are the whole reason Stephanie and Will got this opportunity to go to the beach this entire week. Since Will could not go down until Monday, Steph invited me, Andrew and Mama to go down the first few days. It was the first time my mom went to the beach in many years. Michael had a great time swimming, jumping over waves in the ocean and watching cartoons in the room. Also he got an Indiana Jones whip at Kmart which he demonstrated for us.

We were working through a book of brain quizzes on the way down, and one of them dealt with states and their abbreviations. When I mentioned Indiana, Michael stated, "Indiana? That's Indiana Jones' first name!" :-) Also his face was really shiny last night. I thought it was squeaky clean from all the pool water. Stephanie brushed his teeth and Michael said, "Are my teeth all sparkly like my face?"

We went to Broadway at the Beach, and Andrew bought Michael some candy at It'Sugar. Pretty neat store. I will have to post pictures as soon as I transfer them from my camera.

Here at home I heard it hit 99 today!

This is enough for now.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Oil prices hit new record high!

My dad sent me a link yesterday. Oil was up almost $11 a barrel and set another record high at $138 per barrel. Ugh. I remember when hitting $60 a barrel was SO high! Now we are more than double that. Oh well.....nothing much to do about it. Supply and demand at work, right?

Here is an interesting article I read recently. I'd never thought of taxing the oil companies quite this way before .... hmmm.

Windfall-Profit Nonsense
By John Stossel

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to raise the price of oil, as well as most everything else, and lower the value of the pension and mutual funds that union members and retirees depend on.

Of course, they don't describe their plan that way. Instead, they call for a windfall-profits tax on the oil companies.

But it's the same thing.

Taxing a "windfall" sounds appealing, but stock prices are based on expected profits. Throw a new tax on profits, and retirement portfolios of regular people take a hit.

"Hillary will impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies and use the money to temporarily suspend the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gas tax and the 24.4 cent per gallon diesel tax during the upcoming peak summer driving months," says her website (http://tinyurl.com/3jtlfp).

"They sure can afford it," she told an audience in Indianapolis.

Whom does she think "they" are?

Obama says: "It isn't right that oil companies are making record profits at a time when ordinary Americans are going into debt. ... That's why we'll put a windfall profits tax on oil companies...".

Taxing "windfalls" is politically rewarding, but in the final analysis, only people pay taxes. When a corporation is taxed, the burden falls on workers (through smaller raises), consumers (through higher prices) and shareholders (through lower stock prices).

Do Clinton and Obama really want to tax these innocent people just to spite oil executives for high profits?

Anyway, what is a "windfall"? Any answer is arbitrary. Obama says it's the profit made off oil that's priced above $80 a barrel. Why not $70? Or $90? Did he pull that number out of a hat?

At least he's honest enough to call his tax a windfall profits "penalty." But why do the companies deserve to be penalized? Have they behaved badly?

It's not their fault that demand for oil skyrocketed because of booming economies in China and India, and that tensions in the Middle East pushed prices up. It's not their fault government regulation keeps them from drilling in promising locations like Alaska and offshore, and harasses them when they want to build new refineries or expand old ones. It's not their fault the dollar has deteriorated dramatically.

Being in the oil business is profitable, but not as profitable as you may think. Last year, average earnings in the industry (net income divided by sales) were 8.3 percent. (They are lower this year.) Other industries have done better. Beverage and tobacco firms had returns of over 19 percent.

Yes, oil company profits have surged as the price of oil rose, but bigger profits are good for America. The vast majority of the money goes not to the pockets of oil executives, but to exploration for new oil. If you take the money away, who is hurt?

We don't have to speculate because we have experience to draw on. "We tried this windfall profits scheme in 1980," The Wall Street Journal writes. "It backfired. The Congressional Research Service found in a 1990 analysis that the tax reduced domestic oil production by 3 (percent) to 6 (percent) ...".

Repeating that would not be a good thing for the harried working families Clinton and Obama claim to champion.

Spiking prices and profits encourage investors to take risks to find more oil, develop oil substitutes and increase efficiency. We don't need a "national energy policy" because we already have one. It's called the free market. When oil prices rose a few years ago, old fields with hard-to-reach oil in Oklahoma were suddenly worth operating (http://tinyurl.com/5bqmog).

Economics 101: incentives matter. Now that the price of oil has reached a new high, oil companies and other entrepreneurs have more incentive to find new sources of energy.

Only that -- letting the profit-motive work -- will bring the price of oil down.

Interfering with markets may be good for politicians, but it's bad for everyone else.