Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knowledge vs revelation

There is nothing wrong with knowledge. God encourages us as Christians to study and show ourselves approved. He tells us to search the scriptures, because it is they that testify to Christ. Yet I find that many times knowledge becomes our God. We begin to feel so comfortable with the amount of the Bible we know, and how much of that has been revealed to us, that when we see something revealed somewhere else we instantly question it. Instead of approaching it as we should, with prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

I am by no means an expert on the Bible. I am not one of those men who can quote verse after verse off the top of my head. I am not sure that God will ever give me that ability either. My knowledge of the Bible comes more from comprehension, understanding what happened and why. I still spend time trying to read the Hebrew words and the Greek words, though both do not come easy for me. I do this because I know the Bible is full of wonderful insights that we each can glean from, when God shows them to us.

Recently I added a new friend to my facebook account. This fellow often posts things that I do not agree with, yet when I search myself spiritually I know that sometimes I do not agree with him not because he could be right, but because I haven't heard that before or thought that before. It is those times that we must ask God to humble our hearts, and reveal to us the truth. What if this fellow is spot on and being guided in every step by the Spirit of God? I still will post my questions, and I will still discuss with him why it seems wrong to me, but I must really approach it with a different feeling in my heart.

You see often we don't get spiritual enlightenment, not because we aren't saved, not because we do not believe in Jesus, but because we do not wait for God to show us. Instead of reading and then praying, immersing ourselves in the beauty of the Holy Spirit we instantly allow our carnal minds to compute and return the correct responses that we have been taught, or have thought in the past. Now mind you, sometimes these are revelations that God has given us! Other times it's something we heard another pastor say, or someone posted in a devotional, or even something we just stumbled across when reading a book about the Bible.

We must learn that having the knowledge is a good thing, but putting the knowledge before God is making the knowledge god itself! We must always check ourselves and make sure that we are truly walking in his light, and not in the light of mankind. We must approach everything, and I do mean everything, with God's will in mind! We have died to the flesh, and are created new spiritual men and women! It is time we allowed God his proper place in our life, and we allowed him to lead us, instead of trying to lead ourselves.

God has revealed many things to me in the past few weeks. He has revealed that we are all tempted by sin, but it's when we act on those thoughts that we actually sin. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the garden, yet he always put God's will first! He never sinned! For many years I beat myself up every time I would have an impure thought. Every time I would have a dream that was inappropriate. There is something to be said there, because God said that that which proceeds from our mouths, that makes us unclean because it comes from our heart. You see we are a fallen creature, who has evil in its heart. We have thoughts that can lead to sin, temptations that can produce evil in our life, but by following after the Spirit we can avoid those temptations, we can avoid saying those things that will harm others. When you are tempted with a thought that you know to be wrong, and God will let you know when it's wrong, avoid it. Stop thinking about that. Recite a psalm! The 23rd one is one that I go to often in meditation. Push those thoughts and desires out of your mind, and pray that God will aid you in it! God will deliver you from temptation, trust in him!

So tonight when you place yourself under the blankets in your bed and begin to drift towards sleep, give yourself over to the Father. Ask him to come into your heart and guide you in every aspect of your life. Remind him that you are his servant, and his your Lord. Ask him to open your mind, and your heart, and your spirit to receive those things which he can reveal to you! Trust me, he will reveal more and more!

In Christ,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Of whom much is given, much is expected!

[KJV] Luke 12:48
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Many times in my life I have heard the above paraphrased into the simple statement, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Upon meditating on this I realize that it is about many things, not simply that which is on the surface.

At first it would seem simply that if a man breaks the law, he shall be given a smaller punishment. It also seems to indicate that those who are unaware of the law when they perish, will be also dealt with gently. Yet those who are completely aware of the law and sacrifice of Christ, these men are expected to uphold more and be judged with a different standard. After all Jesus said, you will be judged with the measure you judge with. (Matt 7:2)

Let's think about that for a moment. If you are aware of the law and you judge others harshly, condemning them easily for their actions, then God also will judge you on the same scale. However, if you judge others with compassion and love, then God will do the same for you. It's important for us to notice that distinction! That God wants us to judge righteously, but fairly, lovingly and above all with compassion. We often try to judge others based on our own perceived piousness and not out of our heart, remembering that we too are sinners only saved by HIS grace. It's kind of like getting a present for Christmas, and then showing others how great a person you are because you got a present? God gave us salvation as a gift, and we get no glory from that. God gets the glory, it's his gift! We are still sinners, but sinners saved by Grace, living life without sin only by His divine guidance.

Then we have to look at another aspect of this statement, that to whom much is given much is expected. Each of us has different understandings, different gleanings, and yes different amounts of faith. To those who have great amounts of faith, much is expected! These men and women should be doing wondrous works! Not simply having faith and going to Church once in a while. So before I get carried away, lets look at the spiritual gifts from God.

Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel (Right Judgment), Fortitude, Knowledge, Reverence, and Wonder and Awe (Fear of the Lord).

To each person is given gifts of God. Some of us have understanding. These wonderfully blessed people understand the Word, they see the meaning behind it, they find hidden meanings. What good is a found treasure if they do not share it! What good is understanding the word if you only understand it for yourself? To he who is given understanding, much is expected! This gift is not just for us, it's for the Church! The Body of Christ! We also have to realize that there are different levels of understanding! Some understand perfectly and deeply, others have less understanding but they are still followers of Christ, and should use what they have.

Whether you receive understanding, Wisdom, counsel, knowledge, it is your duty as a part of the body of Christ to share that with the rest of us. Maybe you're blessed with reverence God! What a blessing that is! It is also a chance for you to share your reverence, to show others how to worship God, how to pray, how to approach the alter, how to maintain your relationship with God in the manner in which it should be done.

Another example, he who has fear of the Lord, this is a powerful gift! It is a person who understands that God is perfectly good, and in the same aspect understands just how evil and polluted we as mankind have become. This person knows exactly what grace means! He/she knows that we don't deserve grace, that instead we deserve hell! Yet God loved us so much that He gave His own son in our place! When they speak about it you hear it in their voice, and you know for them it is so powerful, so overwhelming that it's hard to speak about.

Remember, not matter what gift God has given you, spiritual or physical he expects you to use it for His Glory! These gifts are to be shared, given freely since they were received freely! We are to worship and love together, helping each other to grow, building each other up spiritually! Edifying one another in all ways, not tearing down.

I pray that all of you have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. That God will bless and keep you in his arms.

In Christ,

Monday, December 13, 2010

An image, a thought, a dream

I was looking through a friend photos the other day, someone I hadn't seen in a very long time. I came across this amazing little piece of artwork. This art really said to me something that we don't think about very often. We often do not think about the healing power of God until we have something very serious for us. We ask for prayers when there is a heart problem, or cancer, or someone is in ICU. Our father is there for us for all of our ailments! All of our disease!

James 5:14-15 "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15) And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven."

Think about the promise that is given here! Not only will we be healed in faith, but we will also be forgiven of our sins! Prayer is a powerful thing! We are charged to pray every moment we can, and often we forget this powerful, important duty! We think of those who are serving at the alter, those who are preaching, those who are working with the homeless as the ones who are really working for Christ. The Bible tells us though that we are all given different gifts, different duties and talents. If your talent is praying then that is what God wants you to do! Pray for the homeless, pray for their salvation! Pray for the sick, the needy, and yes for the pastors and preachers! They need our prayer too.

Pray without ceasing, pray with every fiber of your being, pray to the Lord that His will be done! And with everything give thanks to the Lord! God can mend a broken heart, but he can do so much more! He can give you back the love that you are afraid you are losing, he can help you put your life back together, he can heal disease, and make crooked things straight! Praise God with all your being, live and walk in communion with him and see how life changes for you!

In Christ,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When did Christmas become about money?

Christmas is almost upon us! Everyone is busy putting up decorations, shopping for presents, and making sure they have enough food for friends and family. It's a beautiful time of year, filled with lights, smells and sounds. Yet, I find myself wondering if people truly remember what Christmas is about. I know, I know, this has been written about every year since Christmas started, and yet I don't think we really get the message.

I find myself worrying about getting enough or the right presents for my children. How they will react if we don't have presents this year, times are tough for a lot of people. I see commercials for other countries, how their children or their older generations don't have enough money to celebrate Christmas. (After all this time of year is one of the best times to raise money, people are trying to get their mood right for this holiday.) I see an unemployment chart that shows that 1 in 10 (at least!) Americans still don't have a job.

Then I start to wonder several things. Why are presents so important? Shouldn't we be giving to God for his birthday? Instead we've turned it into a birthday for all of us! We eat till we are bloated, and then hand out hundreds(if not more) of dollars worth of gifts. Maybe we should instead be spending the day in solemn prayer, thanking God for the birth of his Son. Mayhaps we should be decorating our homes with true representations of what Christmas is about, instead of Santas and reindeer. What do you think?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spirit of the Season

I have been thinking about a little exercise that would help people remember what they are thankful for. At least it worked for me. So here is my challenge, I pray each of you will participate.

Step 1 - Think of something you wish for (nothing generic like world peace, but something specific.)

Step 2 - Write down 3 things you would have if this wish came true

Step 3 - Think very careful, what are three negative things that this wish could bring about?

Step 4 - Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

For instance, I used to daydream that I could travel back in time to where I was 2 years old. Then I would physically be 2 but have all the knowledge I have now.

3 things that I would have
1 - Exceptional intelligence for that age
2 - Foreknowledge of the future
3 - Life experience for making decisions

3 things I could lose
1 - Would I have ever met/married Julie?
2 - Would I ever have my daughters?
3 - Would abusing that sort of knowledge of the future for financial and personal gain create a new person that is different than the one that exists now? Would I even be me?

Do the benefits of that wish outweigh the negatives? Not at all.

I am thankful each day for my family. My children are growing more and more, and it's wonderful to watch them. My wife is a beautiful woman who I pray never grows tired of me. My life is exactly what I would wish for, if I had the chance to do it all again, and given the option I would prefer not to go back and risk losing any of that.

What about you? Do you find your wishes aren't exactly what you thought they would be, once you spend time really thinking about it?

In Christ,

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Last Supper

Leave me a note telling me what you think, or explaining how you feel about the topic. I enjoy hearing from people, and look forward to it :)

1 Corinthians 11 -
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes

I was reading last night as I was trying to find sleep, and I turned to one of the more famous instances in the New Testament. When Jesus was breaking bread at the last supper, and passing it out to his disciples. I began to meditate on what it meant and exactly how we were to think of it. Of course I realize this is the basis for Communion, and I find that a beautiful thing. However, my mind begin to mull over other things as well.

When we look at this many of us just see it as institution of Communion, but there was so much history behind the event that we often overlook. The Last Supper was actually passover, and as such they were eating the unleavened bread that the Israelites had to quickly make when fleeing from Egypt. They were celebrating their liberation from Egypt! They were now free. Yet they were also slaves of another sort, slaves to the law. The law was our way of being like God. He showed us right and wrong in 10 simple commandments. Yet, as the Bible tells us, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have trouble with our flesh and often sin against God. We are slaves to sin.

So how does one rectify this? Jesus did that for us. You see when the angel passed over the Israelites in Egypt it knew the people not to touch, based on the blood of a spotless lamb, whose bones had not been broken, painted on the door frames of the home. The angel of the Lord did not pass judgment on the people who were covered by that innocent lambs blood. Jesus then went to the cross to provide for us that same covering. Now when the we are standing before God in judgement, he passes over us because we are covered with the blood of the Lamb (those of us who choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour).

Thus the Last Supper becomes a celebration of a Christian Passover. We know that the body and blood was shed for us, that the meal we are partaking of is a celebration of our liberation. Liberation from what? From the Law! We are no longer slaves to sin, God has freed us from that. We are now beings of the spirit, that live based on what is good and right! Does that mean that we can break the 10 commandments? No. The 10 commandments are still God's judgment, and we are to live as close as we can to them, not because we have to, but because we love Him and want to be holy and sanctified before him. We however have a savior who will carry that weight of addiction, that weight of lustfulness, that weight of gluttony. He will help us to overcome the flesh, because we definitely aren't doing such a great job on our own.

Then it struck me. There was another message in Jesus' offering. He said as often as you do this, do this in memory of me. Many of us take that to mean that communion is done in his memory, and every time we do communion it should be done with great honor and reverence to God for his gift. I agree. However, we should also see that Jesus wants us to be ready to give our body and our blood for our brothers and sisters, not of our own accord but in memory of him, for God's glory. You and I should love one another enough that if it were possible, we would go to the cross for each other. That we would spill our blood to save one another. That we would live as a living reminder to all others, not of ourself, but of Jesus. Walking in active Communion with God at all times, not just once a week or however often you may celebrate this sacrament.

That opens my eyes to a reality, that I may not be able to live up to that standard. That I may not have the courage to step in front of a gunman to protect someone else, that I do not even know. That I may not have the nerve to dive on a bomb, to protect a crowded subway from it's detonation. It is then that I realize the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. The sacrifice where he went to the death of a sinner, of a thief, for people he didn't even know. People who weren't even born yet. It is then that I realize that I need the blood of passover more than ever.

I pray that each of you are richly blessed, and that God will look on you with favor.

In Christ,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time changes everything

Many years ago I was addicted to a game called Everquest. I played every waking hour, and thought about it when I was not. It was a time in my life that was really me just behaving as a child. Do not get me wrong, I still enjoy my computer games. However, I have reached a different level of player than before, I hope.

You see I remember saying this exact quote about an expansion coming out. (For those that do not know what an expansion is, an expansion is a new CD containing new areas and monsters etc, 'improving' the game play and giving more content.)

"I don't care what it costs, or where we have to go to find it. The power can go off, the cable can go off, just get me that game."

Not one of the more proud moments of my life. You see I had let this game become so important to me, that I didn't see the world around me or the pain I was causing. I simply wanted the game that had become my personal god, forgetting who the true God was. How many times have I done this in my life? So many times. I didn't even consider the notion that I was or could place something in God's place until I got much older. I talk as if I ancient. I'm not, but I find there is a huge period of growing up from the early twenties to the late, for most.

This time I am playing a game called World of Warcraft, that one would have to be hiding under a rock to not know exists. From television adds, to magazine ones, to word of mouth this game has filtered throughout our society. Their biggest expansion yet is coming out, and I'm finding myself hesitant to spend money on it. There are so many more things that I could do with that money considering we have three accounts. (Wife, mine and oldest daughters.) That's over 150 dollars that could be used to put down some hard wood flooring, replace some parts on the heat pump that are probably well past their prime, buy some winter clothes for the kids, or even start preparing the garden for the Spring.

Do not get me wrong there is still a strong urge in me to buy this silly game, but there is a stronger one nagging at me to be a responsible adult. To allow my mind to forget about earthly things, and remember that we are here to make a difference in the lives of others. One that reminds me that this life is simply a fading moment in the great timeline, and we are just stewards of the things we touch and possess. There is an old saying about when you die, you can't take it with you. Maybe we should update that for our generation, 'virtual real estate will always be intangible."

Pray for me my brothers and sisters, that each day I will continue to contemplate and grow. That I will be able to see the world through the eyes of a loving and true God, who wants us to submit ourselves to each other in humility, and love. That I will be able to be the responsible steward of the resources the Father has given me, and use them in accordance with His will.

In Christ,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our Father

I have been spending a great deal of time reading the Bible lately. The last few years actually. However, lately I have been really immersing myself into the word. I find that the more I read, the more I realize that God is not just some angry, jealous creature out there wanting to punish us. Instead, he's a hurting, loving Father who wants his children to love him. His ways seem mysterious at times, and even baffling. However, as a father of four, it is very easy for me to see that love that underlies all of the old testament, and flourishes in the new.

God freed his people from slavery, and led them out with the promise that they could take the land that was rightfully theirs. Instead of trusting him, they not only refused to go on, they created man made gods to worship while he was giving them the law they were crying for. Could you imagine your own children asking you to re-enslave them after you had just freed them, and then while you were writing the 10 commandments for them to follow, they went looking for a new god?

You see they were free, completely and utterly free when they left Egypt. Then God gave them the commandments. You see the people were not able to keep simple things in faith. They were told that God was providing for them.. and yet when it came to not having food, or water they began to cry out. "Would that we would have remained in Egypt, did God bring us out here to die?" They did not trust God to solve their problems, but each time he did they did not listen to his answer. In answering their petitions they did not follow through in trust of God. He told them to gather only enough mana for one day, and then on Friday gather a double measure so that on the sabbath they would have enough food. He also warned if they gathered too much any other time it would rot. What happened? They did not trust in him, and instead gathered too much and it became rotten and filled with maggots.

They were not able to put their faith in God, so he spent 40 years teaching them to do just that. So the people that were free, had placed themselves back into slavery. From slaves in Egypt they became free men, then they themselves became slaves to Sin. The only way to be freed of the curse of Sin was to spill blood. We see this foreshadowed by Cain and Abel. Cains sacrifice of wheat was not sufficient, only the blood from Abel's was able to cover the sin. The Lord was showing us in the very first offering that blood was needed to cover our sin.

Then later Abraham and Isaac. We are all familiar with this story where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham ties him up and is about to do it, when an Angel comes down and tells him to stop. They find a ram in the thicket, for them to sacrifice instead. Once again we are seeing a foreshadow of the spotless lamb of God, who will be sacrificed for our sins, in our place. Then again with the Israelites. They began to have a scapegoat. They would place the curse of sin on a goat and send it into the desert. If the goat died in the desert, the curse was lifted and they were not guilty of sin. If the goat returned to them they were still guilty. You see God was showing us that eventually there would be another who would come down for our sins, and he would bear the yoke of the world on his shoulders. He would go into the desert for us, and would die for our curse.

Then we have the beautiful, and yet gruesome event of Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus, the spotless lamb of God, the only begotten Son of God, came down and lived a pure life. He then went to the cross and his blood was spilled as propitiation for us. You see Jesus was the final, perfect sacrifice. His blood washed all sin away, as long as we believe in Him! He is our Moses, who leads us into freedom. You see each of us is a slave to Sin, we are weak in our flesh, but through Jesus Christ we can be risen with him into a spiritual being. Jesus was our scapegoat, he took our sin with him into death, and removed the curse from us, the penalty. Our Father loved us so much that he provided his only Son that we might have life! God is indeed love, he wants each and everyone of us to turn to him and believe in him and find obedience in that love. Not because we have to, not because we need to, but because we want to! He wants us to want to follow his commandments, to want to follow him! I pray that each person will receive this as it is intended, and will yearn to love Adonai with all of their heart, their soul and their mind.

May God watch over you, keeping you in his arms, blessing you fully. May He teach each and every one of us to love with that pure agape love that comes from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. May we all learn to love our neighbors completely, as much as we love ourselves, always doing for them the kind of things we desire for ourselves. May we learn to be humble as the servant, putting ourselves in Jesus' shoes. The King of Kings came down to us as a servant, serving his apostles, washing their feet, may we learn to reflect on this and embody Jesus Christ everyday of our lives.

In Christ,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pete, the carpenter

We all know that person in our world that simply exudes the essence of Christ. For me the first person I met that really personified Jesus in my life was Pete. Pete was a carpenter that was working on a Church in Gate City Virginia. I remember one day Pete asked me and my co-worker (we were electricians) if we wanted to pray with him before we ate. He said he had noticed we were praying in the car every day and he wanted to join us in doing so. Before long we had an entire group of people, at least seven, that were praying every day before lunch. Pete taught me something about prayer that I will never forget.

When Pete would pray he didn't just kneel like I did, or fold his hands like some of the others, he got down on his face. I'll never forget the first time he did it. I was so in shock I forgot to pray. When we were done with our prayer session he got up, oblivious to the fact that he had saw dust all over his face. I knew right then that I wanted whatever Pete had.

It took me many years to realize that one thing that Pete had that we all needed. Pete didn't pray on his face because he thought that was the right thing to do, he didn't do it because a religion called him to do it, he didn't pray on the ground because someone told him to. Pete prayed on his face because he was truly humble before the King of Kings! He knew in his heart that we as people can never earn our own salvation, we can never have righteousness before God, because we are a corrupt people. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God, and only through Jesus Christ will we ever be attributed any righteousness at all! That righteousness is of the only man who ever lived without sin, and that man was God! Oh how to have that kind of humility in my life, I pray for it daily. I pray that God will allow me to let the person that is me die in the flesh, and be raised in the Spirit. I pray to grow in Jesus Christ daily!

In our society it is often not popular to be humble. It is thought that the bold people will gain advancement and those who are meek and humble will be left behind. I tell you that when we go before God, we need to realize who it is that we are approaching. When we get on our knees, our face, our prayer stool, whatever it is that you do... we are getting before the Most High God, creator of the universe! He gives and he takes away, and to those who believe in Jesus Christ, we are given the title of the sons of God! We are facing the ultimate of fathers, the one who controls life from beginning to end. He knew you while you were being formed in the womb, he knew you before your parents knew you. He knew you before you knew yourself! All honor and glory are his!

So the next time you pray, remember that God is in control. God has a plan and I've read the back of the book, we win!

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I just wanted the share this post from my Aunt. I am including it unedited because I feel her words speak volumes. While you are reading it, think about the many times you've seen God cradle someone in his arms. How many times has He reached down from on high and put his hands around someone and kept them safe? It is my hope that people will share there stories as well, of times they know someone has been saved by God's providence!

In Christ,

Here is the post that inspired me, unedited:

LORD CHILDREN we saw the most awful wreck going towards Abingdon last evening and I Knew in my heart no one had survived that wreck. My heart ached for some Mother, Wife, Child there was no doubt in my mind, No one could have survived that but guess what?

This morning before we headed back we heard the man lived and had only a scratch on his elbow, there was not any space left in the cabin of that Tractor except just enough for him. A person told us , I don't know what God has for that man, but he really has something BIG for him to do for God and it was just NOT his time to go. Never saw anything to beat it. Thank you Sweet Jesus and Praise your name for saving that working man. I thought about the Song Chuck Johnson wrote and sings about the 29 coal miners that recently died in West Va.

I could just hear some one's child saying , Mommy when is daddy coming home? You see wrecks with little damage that kill people and that one that looked by all certainly hopeless that a person could survive and he made it out with a scratch on his elbow.

I can't Imagine the size of God's hands to literally make a bubble around that man and save his life. OH YEA OF LITTLE FAITH!!!! Are my thoughts today.

You can find this and other inspirational discussions happening on Facebook, in the Sisters in Christ; Sovereign Grace group. Click the link and click discussion.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's with the Attitude?

The Bible talks many times about the attitude we should have when we approach God in supplication. From the list in Malachi chapter one to the 'Our Father', each of them shows the proper way to come to God in prayer. Although it is addressed so often, many still are praying in a manner that does not reflect their Christian nature. Our attitude towards God should reflect the fact that God is the most important thing in our life, and that we love our neighbor as ourselves. These two statements, directly from Jesus, show us all we really need to know to be Christian.

Mathew 22: 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38T his is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Following these two commands, we find that all of the ten commandments fall into place. One cannot murder another and pretend to have loved them. One cannot be jealous of another's things and pretend to love them. One cannot lie to another, steal, or dishonor his father and mother; all the while pretending it is out of love for them. It, once again, is all about attitude towards God! When God truly comes first in your life you will take your commandments seriously. It is true that Christ died on the cross for us, and that he has washed us clean of sin. It is also true that faith in Christ is enough. Jesus however said, those who love me will keep my commands. (John 14:15) When we come to the cross and give our hearts to Jesus it should be completely! We should do it out of love, out of desperation, out of hope! It should not be a moment where we simply say, 'I believe in Christ' and then forget what he did the moment we go out of the building.

How does this apply to our lives? Our attitudes? You should be reflecting that love in every action, every day. Each time you interact with another person it should be out of love. Think carefully what this means. It means that our needs are not first. It means that we offer ourselves as servants to the world. What? As servants? Jesus, the king of the universe, came down and presented himself not as a king, but as a servant. Is he not our example? Should we not present ourselves as living images of him? When we come to the cross our old selves die. We are no longer a creature of this world, but spiritual beings, Children of God! We should act as such!

It also applies to our prayer life. When we come to God we should praise and worship him! How many times do we begin our prayers with 'Lord why me? What did I do?' Think of the 'Our Father'. This was the example that Jesus gave his disciples in how to pray.

Mathew 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, asit isin heaven.

Jesus tells his disciples to start off their prayers with a praising of God. That God's will be done in earth, just as it is in heaven.

Hallow -To make holy; to set apart for holy or religious use; to
consecrate; to treat or keep as sacred; to reverence.

He instructs them to indicate that God's name is special and holy, to be treated with reverence. Many religious Jews will not even say God's name, even to the point of writing the English word as G-d. How much respect should we be showing knowing that God's name is hallowed? When was the last time we prayed and said God, your name alone is special and holy, how much more so are you? We should pray with God's will in mind. First and foremost! What is God's will? Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” God's will is good, pleasing and perfect. His will is that all of his Children will come to Him. His will is that we worship him, and love him, as he first loved us. His will is that we love one another. So when you pray, pray in God's will. We should pray for things that help others, out of love.

God wants us to have everything we need. He doesn't always give us everything we want. Sometimes that is because what we want, will either hurt us or hurt someone else. Yet we spend a great deal of time worrying and being anxious. Jesus told us that we should stop worrying, if God clothes the flowers in the field in more beauty than even a great King, how much more so would he provide us with clothes? If God provides food for the birds in the air, how much more so will he provide food for us? (Mathew 6:25-32) God knows what we need, and he will provide! The world will make it seem to you that you are suffering and that God is not listening, but He is! Not only is he listening he is answering! We need to be still and quiet and listen to God! (Psalm 46:10)

I will close for now with words directly from our savior, words more perfect than anything I could come up with on my own. Mathew 6:33-34 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.”

In Christ,

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Do we really give thanks?

Today at Church we had a wonderful message brought to us while we were celebrating the first communion of several of our children. At the beginning of the service Father Siegel began by reading the Gospel, and he spoke of when Jesus fed the 5000 with just five loaves of bread, and two fish. Then he did a wonderful example for us involving the children. He pulled out six dinner rolls and two cans of tuna. He distributed them each in a bowl to a child, one per row of people. He then told them to take the food out and feed everyone. They quickly began their task and began to distribute the food, until it was all consumed. Out of the roughly three hundred people there, many did not receive any at all.

He did this to show the children that Jesus was divine, that he did something that was only possible because he was God. However, it also showed many lessons for each of us there. The Bible tells us that unless we have the faith of a child, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 18:17) The first lesson I received was that the children did not protest like many of us adults would have. “What? There is no way I can feed all these people with just a dinner roll each, and a part of a can tuna!” Instead the children began to do as he asked them, they had faith in what he said. Each of us can learn from this, that we are to have faith in Christ and all he stood for. When God gives us something to do, much like a child listening to an adult with authority, we should do as he says. We should have faith that it is going to happen, not grumble and moan to ourselves about the inconvenience that God has put on our life. Much like the Israelites as they left Egypt into the desert near Sinai, we are quick to grumble and turn our back on God.

That was another lesson that hit home today as we sat around watching these young children take their first communion. Many of us go to Church and do what we have to, to get by. Then as soon as we leave we are like the Israelites in the desert, we grumble about what we have to do or we forget God immediately as we walk out the door into the world. As part of this wonderful ceremony, each of the families chose a name of another child receiving communion, and we prayed for them for a few weeks leading up to the event. My wife nudged me during the procession of kids coming up front, and said that’s him. I looked at this child that she was motioning to, and wondered what on earth is she talking about? You see I had prayed for this young man, and as soon as the request to pray was finished, I let it slip my mind.

James 5:16 admonishes us to confess our sins one to another, and pray for one another. Much like many times in our lives we say “Oh, I’ll pray for you.” Then we leave the room or the website and we often forget to pray for them. Or much like the example above, as soon as we are done praying for them and their situation, we don’t think about them anymore. You see our life should be a life of prayer, not just a moment a day. We should keep lists of those who need our prayer, and spend our time earnestly praying for them and their needs. Jesus told us to ask and we would receive, and I truly believe this. After we left the Church and we at home I realized who she was pointing at and why! I said you were pointing at the boy we were praying for those weeks, and I had no clue. You see even though I was there to worship, my mind was more on what was going on and less on God. I truly needed to lift the veil of life from my eyes, and see with the eyes of the Spirit. We are to be raised spiritual people, in Christ! Our flesh is to die with him on the Cross.

One final lesson that I think really was apropos, and timely today was that many of us who did receive the food that was being passed out did not give thanks for it. We did not pray to God and say thank you for this food, nor did we thank the children passing it out. We were too tied up with the doing and happening, to really see with the eyes of the Spirit. You see God often blesses us daily with things and many times we forget to give him thanks in anyway. We go on with our day and at the end of the day give a short prayer, and go to bed. How often have we fallen into the rut of not really being Spiritual but being much like those hypocrites of the Bible, doing things by rote and not really feeling them. Praying a prayer just to get it out of the way. Giving thanks at the beginning of a meal in haste, not because we are truly thankful but because it has become a ‘duty’ for us. One of the funnier stories in my life was when a child was asked to give grace, and he said “Yay God, lets eat.” Many of us are happy to give this four word prayer at dinner and jump right in. How many of us actually think about the food we are receiving. My grandfather used to say this prayer and it often calls to my mind the appropriateness of what we are doing in giving a prayer over the meal:

“Our gracious heavenly father, we’d like to thank you for this food, thank you for making it possible for us to have it. Lord bless and sanctify the hands that prepared it for the nourishment of our bodies. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.”

In that simple prayer my grandfather thanked God for the food, thanked him for the nourishment, and gave a blessing to the people who took time to prepare it. Many times I will close my eyes and think this wonderful prayer to myself and think about how deep with meaning it can be, in so few words. We should give thanks for the food, for the health we are receiving, and for those who do care enough about us to prepare it for us. I miss my grandfather, when he was alive my life was not about the Lord. I do find comfort in the fact that one day I will see both of them in Heaven again. So for that my gracious heavenly Father, I give thanks.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Veganism? Omnivore? Carnivore?

"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. - 1 Corinthians 10:23

The human race, and all of creation, began it's existence on a diet of plant matter. The Bible clearly dictates that "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." Gen 1:29 It wasn't until after the flood that God instructed Noah and his family to begin eating meat. It also began an enmity between the animals and mankind. After we began eating animals, they began to fear us.

Now, am I saying that we should all be vegan? ... I personally wish that we would, for the ecological reasons, and the ethical reasons that I believe. However, I do not believe that Biblicaly we need to be. However, God did appoint us stewards over the earth. By factory farming we are slowly eroding many parts of the earth, destroying our ecosystem, polluting our waters, and pumping our animals and our people full of chemicals. All in the name of 'tasty meat.' I do not believe that we can do this in the name of 'Christian stewardship'.

Factory farming is an evil that we must examine with the heart of Christ, as we are risen with him. Paul said that "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20. We are to walk as the Risen Christ, a light for the world to see. We must look at our actions with that heart, and with that mindset, not with the thoughts on things of the earth, but on things heavenly. To copy an old cliche, what would Jesus do. Would he support locally grown, organic produce? Or would he buy something shipped across three countries in a diesel truck? Would he support factory farming? Or buy local, organic meat from a local butcher? Or would he not eat meat at all? These are decisions you must look at prayerfully for yourself, as stewards of the earth and of your own heart.

We must make conscious decisions in every action for our planet, our children, ourselves. We are the stewards of this world. We must take action, and look at it through the eyes and the love of Christ. His blood is a filter that we must also use to filter our own vision, that we can see the world through it! When you look at the world, try to see it from God's pure vision, from Agape! When you do that what do you see? What choices would he make? How would he treat that person you just shunned? Or the one coming toward you now? How would he choose his next meal? Who would he pray for right now? How would he spend his next paycheck? How would he spend time with his children? How would he make that next crucial decision?

God is love, but he is also so many other things. Cultivate your relationship with him today. Praise him, worship him, get to know him. Study his word, and give your heart over to him completely in obedience to him today.

In Christ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good luck? Or Not luck at All?

Lately I have found myself weary of using the phrase good luck. I have used it most of my life, but the last few weeks whenever I start to utter this seemingly innocuous statement I find myself stuttering to find a replacement. "God bless your endeavor." "God bless you." etc. Some may find it silly, but I think it is very important for a Christian to remember that luck really has no place in the Christian world view. Everything happens according to God's plan. He knows what is going to happen, and when. Even though we have free will and we do make choices, those choices are according to a plan that is mapped out for eternity. Kind of a paradox eh?

God does not make choices for us, but he knows what choices we will make. It's almost mind blowing, but to me so comforting as well. Once we realize that his will is that we love one another, and be loved life becomes so much easier. That is our purpose, to love Him, and to love each other. We then fall into obedience of his word, and have faith on His Son out of faith! There is no luck for us. We have things given to us, or taken away from the Master's hand. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Eph 1:3-4) He knew us before we were born, and he knows us today, tomorrow and forever.

So what would you say instead of good luck? Or do you use the phrase anyway? Is it simply a silly thought for me to even consider it? Remember, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
I wrote about this verse of scripture a few years ago on Myspace, and I was disappointed to find out I missed a sermon on it the other day when I stayed home to watch one of the children who did not want to attend church. She is too young to be quiet when she doesn't want to be there, and too young to leave at home. That being out of the way I just wanted to share some thoughts on it because it is a beautiful set of verses (aren't all of them?)

John 21:15-17
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

It seems odd in the English translation to keep asking Simon over and over, do you love me? Mostly because we only have one word for love. However, in the original language there were four different words for love. Two of them were used here. They were:

Agape - the love of God or Christ for mankind, unconditional love
phileo - brotherly love

So to paraphrase the conversation above, Jesus who had just risen from the dead and had dined on some fish said, to his friend and disciple.

"Do you love me unconditionally as I love the world?" Remember Jesus loved the world so much he died on the cross for all of our sins.

Simon peter replied, "Of course, I love you like a brother."

Quite a bit of difference in brotherly love, and the love of God for the world. Though some brothers would die for each other, would a brother die for everyone? I know some brothers who would not even lift a finger for each other as well.

He asks him again, "Simon Peter, do you agape me?"

Peter replies, "Yes Lord, I phileo you!"

Once again the Lord wants to know if he loves him as much as God loves us! Peter says I love you like a brother, he still isn't getting it!

Then a third time Jesus asks, and when he look at it, he asks "Simon, do you phileo me?" Simon is hurt, because he asks a third time. I also think he is hurt because he realizes what Jesus is asking of him, asking if he loves him that much and Simon isn't ready for that. He wants to be, but he's not sure that he has the love in him that Jesus, the living God has! He says, "You know all things! You know that I love you like a brother!" Jesus commands him one more time "Feed my sheep!"

This is a lesson for all of us today. Do you agape Jesus? Do you love him enough to die on the cross with him and rise again the third day? That's what we as Christians do when we are baptized. "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20 We are dunked under the water 3 times, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; symbolizing our three days in the tomb. When we rise out of that water we are a new creature. "Not I, but Christ liveth in me!" We are to live by the faith in the son of God!! Walking in obedience to his commandments. We are no longer part of this world, but children of the Living God! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ! Our sins are washed clean! We are to agape one another forgiving each other our sins and sinning no more! Amen, Hallelujah!

It also means that some of us aren't ready for agape. Some of us are still at the phileo stage. Some of us haven't gotten there yet, but that doesn't mean we don't have to strive for more! We have to keep trying. Just like my mother used to tell me when I fell off a horse, get back on it right now! Dust yourself off and start riding again. You might get angry at someone, or not like someone, work to love them no matter how hard it is. Know that Jesus loves them, and that God loves them. It doesn't mean you have to have them over for coffee every day, but you don't have to give them a cold shoulder and not wave when they pass you in the hall. If you see them with a flat, don't pretend you don't see them flagging you down. Work towards agape. Work towards being Christ. So that when people look at you, they don't even see you anymore, they see the Christ that has risen in you.

One last thing, I agape you. No matter who you are, where you are, you are beautiful, each and everyone of you. God loves you, and so do I. God bless you, and may he pour out all of his love on you. If you haven't accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior please do so today. If you don't know how just ask him in your words to come into your heart, and pick up a bible and start at Mathew and start reading a little at a time. If that seems like to much, or you just want someone to help or guide you, feel free to send me a message. I'd be happy to pray with you, or even suggest some reading. May God bless you in your journey.

In Christ,

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jealousy, green doesn't look good on anyone

Today I found out what someone was getting for their birthday, and my first thought was that I needed to top that. What could I buy that would make that gift seem pale in comparison. Then I remembered my love dare book. Even though the book is intended for relationships between me and my spouse, I try to apply it to my entire life (when appropriate). Today's challenge is about jealousy. Love should not be jealous without appropriate cause.

What is appropriate cause? Well if one's wife were cheating on them with another man, that would be an appropriate time to be jealous, and angry. One's wife simply talking to another man, or a neighbor is not a time to be jealous. Or when someone gets something for their birthday, it should be a time of rejoicing that they are receiving something they want. When your neighbor gets a new car, it is not time to be envious of them and desire one for yourself. It's time to be happy that they were able to afford a new vehicle and that God blessed them with the money and means to pay for it.

So I must retrain my mind away from the world, which slowly tries to erode away our spirit and make us simply a carnal person. The world wants us to keep our minds right here on the things of this world, but we are challenged by God to keep our minds on things of His kingdom. To be happy that she is receiving such a thing for her birthday and not try to 'one up' the person giving it to her, is a challenge, but it is also an act of love.

Today I listened to a lecture about the color of the tablets that the ten commandments were carved on. Apparently they were carved on tablets of sapphire stone, hence the reason the early Jewish garments had tassels with a line of blue in it. So the priests could look upon the blue and be reminded of the commandments, and keep them.

Numbers 15:37-40 - (NKJV) Again Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 38 "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.
39 "And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Yahweh and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, 40 "and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your Elohim.

Tomorrow I am pondering making a bracelet, similar to the WWJD bracelets of the past. This one will be blue though, that I might be reminded everytime I see it of the commandments that I might keep them. Not because I am under the law, but because I love the Lord my God. The law has not passed, it is still in effect. It is a mirror that reminds us that we are still full of sinful nature, and that God is holy. Let us remind ourselves daily that the blood of Jesus cleanses us, and without it we are lost.

The Friar

Friday, January 29, 2010

Weak in the Flesh

How difficult it is to hold to ones resolve. We make promises to ourselves, and yes even to God, and often times we break them without a thought. Just like our news years resolutions that many times do not make it through the first month. There is a necessity in life, that of keeping our bodies healthy, but each dietician gives us a different idea of what to eat or when to eat it. Even the concept of organic is different. One recommends being vegan, another recommends clean living. Our own personal convictions require us to live another way as well. I personally attempt to be a vegan, but I fail miserably.

It is so difficult for me to give up meat and meat by products. I don't understand why. My will power is weak, and this is just one of the thorns in my flesh. I know that Biblically it isn't a sin to eat meat, but I warn each of you that it is indeed a sin to mistreat animals for our own personal pleasure. Raising animals for food in and of itself is not a sin. There are those who beat, abuse, and confine animals to horrid areas and painful conditions for their entire lives. These animals did nothing to deserve this, and the only reason they go through this is for our own pleasure. We were created in God's image, and given dominion over the earth. Charged with subduing it, and being it's stewards. It is time we acted as such.

It is our job to protect this planet. That includes it's inhabitants. The plants, the animals, and yes other human beings. It is time we stopped abusing one another, in the name of greed. It is time we shared everything, and gave to one another. The utopian society of tomorrow, can be here today. We just need to share in love, and give out of our hearts. Join with me today, and give out of your hearts. Find a way to help one person today. Then one person tomorrow. Together, we will help until no one is wanting. Let us fix this world, and rebuild the kingdom that we were put in charge of 6000 years ago.

The Friar

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Prayer Business

Lately I've been seeing a lot of children that are in need of prayer, well alot of people in general. I think we need to get into the prayer business. Not just say a prayer and not believe, but really take hold of our prayers and believe them.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).

God has given us the power to ask for something, and have it. We are his children and it is time we acknowledge that, and believe it. I am not telling you to go ask for things that are not in God's will. This is not the time to go ask for winning lottery numbers, or a new mercedes. However, it's perfectly acceptable to ask God to take care of your family when your car is breaking down. God will take care of you, and yours. It will be in his will though.

I have a dear close friend who now blames her husband because they had an ultrasound during their pregnancy and the child was deformed and most likely would die before birth. The doctor's informed her. She believed she could pray and the child would be healed. The husband told her, honey the child is already dieing there is nothing we can do. She told him to pray, he refused. Now she tells people she doesn't like her husband. She blames him. In one way I understand, in another I see his side as well. However, I do know God could indeed have healed that child and brought him into life. However, was that his will? How do we know what his will is?

Does blaming her husband show him unconditional love? Does her husbands refusal show her unconditional love? His refusal to pray for healing also, was a refusal for faith. Her blaming her husband for not praying is not seeing a much larger picture, she blames her husbands lack of faith on the childs death. The husband has been depressed for years since. A very sad state of affairs. How many of the rest of us that knew the family weren't praying? Why isn't she blaming us as well? I didn't pray enough, I know that now. I assumed it was in God's hands.

Often times we assume things are in God's hands and we don't bother saying a prayer. We just let things come to fruition and if it's good, we say look at that a miracle, God was watching. If it was bad, we blame Satan. In all honesty we should be constantly praying and watching, ever vigilant in this world of the things that God has charged us to be stewards of.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

This should not keep you worrying always, or constantly in a state of anxiety. It should keep you at peace, understanding that God will take care and gain victory over all. The more we pray, the more God wins! So keep praying and let your faith in God show! If you use a prayer cloth, carry one with you! If you use a rosary keep it by your side. If you pray in a closet, make sure you know of a place where you can find a nice quiet hidden spot to pray away from others. If you need a chapel, know of one you can find on your lunch break to secret yourself into during the day. If nothing else, spend a few minutes before you eat your lunch to bow your head and sned up your petitions, thanks, and worries. Then let them go, they are in God's hands now.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I was once a steward in an organization. It was my responsibility to make sure the floors were vacuumed, swept, and clean. The lights were working, the toilets flushed, the toilet paper stocked. The plates washed after every function. It was a very active job, considering it was appointed and for no pay. Each member had to go through that job at some point. It taught them that no matter who you were, you weren't better than anyone else. It also taught them that the building was all of our responsibility, and that someone had to clean it up. After you were a steward for a little while, you usually never made a mess again. You remembered what it was like to pick up after other people.

How much better would the world be today if God could appoint each of us stewards of our particular area for a few weeks at a time? It often seems that many of us are lax in being stewards in our own homes, let alone the area we live in. Our homes become cluttered and full of trash. We collect things we don't need. We spend the hard earned money that God has graced us with without thinking twice about it. We are supposed to be stewards in everything, not just in a few things.

So when you get up in the morning and you finish eating breakfast, wash out those bowls or put them in the dishwasher. You are a steward of the house that God has graced you with. When you get your check, give a tithe to the church, any church. I am not asking you to come to my church, or my organization. Simply remember that God has blessed you with the money and he has told you to tithe part of that money to him. Not because God needs your money, it's already his. God wants you to give out of Love for him. He wants you to give out of obedience. He wants you to be a steward over all things, from the animals to the streets, to the environment.

Is global warming real? Some say yes, some say no. The truth of the matter is, global warming doesn't matter. We all know we are impacting the environment by polluting it, whether or not we are warming up the globe. If we are truly Christian, and stewards of this earth, we will live a green lifestyle. Not because of any scientific data that says the earth is growing warmer, but because God has commanded us to be stewards of all things. To pollute the water, the earth, the air is simply not in the life of a Christian. To use data that says global warming doesn't exist to give you the 'free ticket' to pollute all you want, is simply a way to live in sin.

Is it a sin to pollute? I belive it is. I belive everytime we throw something down and don't pick it up, or we buy a product that was produced in a way that pollutes our environment, we do indeed sin against God. Think on it, discuss it, let me know your thoughts as well.

Well I'm starting

I've decided to start telling people, what God tells me. It's going to be off an on because I will not post unless he tells me to. It's not something that I am going to do when I just want to write, but when I feel driven to do so. I feel the blog will be filled with discussions about animals, veganism, and tithing in the next few days. Maybe someone will read it, maybe it's just for me so that I will see what I have been thinking and not just hold it inside. Maybe someone out there will see it and write more. We shall see.

The friar