Archive for February, 2007

1:11 These are the words of Nehemiah2 son of Hacaliah:

It so happened that in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year,3 I was in Susa4 the citadel. 1:2 Hanani, who was one of my relatives,5 along with some of the men from Judah, came to me,6 and I asked them about the Jews who had escaped and had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem.7

1:3 They said to me, “The remnant that remains from the exile there in the province are experiencing considerable8 adversity and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem lies breached, and its gates have been burned down!”9

1:4 When I heard these things I sat down abruptly,10 crying and mourning for several days. I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 1:5 Then I said, “Please, O LORD God of heaven, great and awesome God, who keeps his loving covenant11 with those who love him and obey12 his commandments, 1:6 may your ear be attentive and your eyes be open to hear the prayer of your servant that I am praying to you today throughout both day and night on behalf of your servants the Israelites. I am confessing the sins of the Israelites that we have committed13 against you – both I myself and my family14 have sinned. 1:7 We have behaved corruptly against you, not obeying the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments that you commanded your servant Moses. 1:8 Please recall the word you commanded your servant Moses: ‘If you act unfaithfully, I will scatter you among the nations.15 1:9 But if you repent16 and obey17 my commandments and do them, then even if your dispersed people are in the most remote location,18 I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen for my name to reside.’ – Nehemiah 1:1-9

When we begin to read the book of Nehemiah the very first thing that we see is prayer.  Nehemiah was presented with a problem.  Instead of hunkering down and making plans, railing against the injustice or simply going on with his life because “there was nothing he could do,” he prayed.  He began with the most powerful option he had in his spiritual arsenal.  What is even more impressive/interesting is that from there he did have a plan, but it was not one he toiled over for hours.  Instead, Nehemiah had a plan that came from the mouth of God.

As I look at this story, I cannot help but think about how often I fail to take the first step to prayer.  I tend to make a plan and then make it happen.  Once in a while, I will throw in some prayer for good measure.  However, prayer should be the foundation of your plan, not just one of the ingredients.

Heavenly Father,

I ask you to help me to learn to pray to you with fervency.  I ask you to remind me of first things first – prayer.  I ask you to lead me into your way of planning and preparing.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

Ezra 8-10

9:1 Now when these things had been completed, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the local residents1 who practice detestable things similar to those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 9:2 Indeed, they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race2 has become intermingled with the local residents. Worse still, the leaders and the officials have been at the forefront of all of this!”

9:3 When I heard this report, I tore my tunic and my robe and ripped out some of the hair from my head and beard. Then I sat down, quite devastated. 9:4 Everyone who held the words of the God of Israel in awe3 gathered around me because of the unfaithful acts of the people of the exile.4 Devastated, I continued to sit there until the evening offering. – Ezra 9:1-4

These words in Ezra make me think about our tendencies in choosing a mate.  How often do we chose someone for some very good reasons, but ignore their spiritual condition.  The Israelites were God’s people (just like we are God’s people.)  They needed to have spouses and families that were dedicated to the one true God.  Yet, they were marrying women from nations that worshipped pagan idols.  This may have been the very first form of missionary dating, but it did not work back then and it will not work today.  It is vitally important that our closest relationships be ones that build up our faith and our commitment to God.  We are definitely called by God to have relationships with those who do not know him.  This way we can be salt and light in our world, but these relationships should not be our closest friends or our spouse.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that each of those who call on your name would surround themselves with Godly relationships.  I pray that they would continue to be salt and light to those who do not know you.  I pray that their closest relationships would undergird them and lift them up as they work to expand your kingdom.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

Opposition – Ezra 4-7

“To King Artaxerxes,31 from your servants in32 Trans-Euphrates: 4:12 Now33 let the king be aware that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and odious city.34 They are completing its walls and repairing its foundations. 4:13 Let the king also be aware that if this city is built and its walls are completed, no more tax, custom, or toll will be paid, and the royal treasury35 will suffer loss. 4:14 In light of the fact that we are loyal to the king,36 and since it does not seem appropriate to us that the king should sustain damage,37 we are sending the king this information38 4:15 so that he may initiate a search of the records39 of his predecessors40 and discover in those records41 that this city is rebellious42 and injurious to both kings and provinces, producing internal revolts43 from long ago.44 It is for this very reason that this city was destroyed. 4:16 We therefore are informing the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, you will not retain control45 of this portion of Trans-Euphrates.” – Ezra 4:11-16

I have to admit that I am not a person who buys into this idea that Satan opposes Christians at every turn.  In fact, I think he leaves us alone most of the time because we are not really doing much of anything for the Kingdom of God.   He really has not reason to oppose us.  An argument can be made that when we are not actively pursuing Kingdom expansion, we are helping Satan.  Every lethargic Christian just gives people one more reason to ignore our faith.  However, then there are those who are on mission with God.

Just like the Israelites in the above verses, we will find opposition when we are on mission with God.  Opposition will come from those who don’t like us and those who “love” us.  We or people close to us will become sick.  Discouragement will set in as things do not go our way.  Times will not be easy, but this is just one more indication that we are doing something significant – that we are on mission with God.  I write these words as an encouragement to myself.  For the first time in years I have no doubt that I am completely in God’s will and there is opposition – but God is on my side.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your wonderful mercy and grace.  Thank you for your calling.  Thank you for letting us be a part of your mission on earth.  Lord, help me to remain focused on you and your mission.  Help me to serve you with every ounce of my being.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

Using Us – Ezra 1-3

1:11 In the first2 year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the Lord’s message3 spoken through4 Jeremiah,5 the Lord stirred the mind6 of King Cyrus of Persia. He disseminated7 a proclamation8 throughout his entire kingdom, announcing in a written edict9 the following:10

1:2 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia:

“‘The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has instructed me to build a temple11 for him in Jerusalem,12 which is in Judah. 1:3 Anyone from13 his people among you (may his God be with him!) may go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and may build the temple of the Lord God of Israel – he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 1:4 Anyone who survives in any of those places where he is a resident foreigner must be helped by his neighbors14 with silver, gold, equipment, and animals, along with voluntary offerings for the temple of God which is in Jerusalem.’” – Ezra 1:1-4

We serve a great and might God. I am constantly amazed how God used each of those who call on his name. Then I am even more amazed that God uses those who do not call on his name. King Cyrus of Persia could not be called a follower of Yahweh. He likley worshiped a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Yet, even he utters the worlds, “The Lord God in heaven.” These words clearly show that there is only one God in heaven. Cyrus goes on to talk about how may each person god be with them and how the god he is discussing is in Jerusalem. Cyrus may not have really understood that this god in Jerusalem was actually the one and only God, but God still used him to re-establish his people in the land.

As Christ-followers we really need to take this to heart. It show us that God can and will use each of us. If he is using those who do not know him, then we know he will use us. It also reminds us that we should not always judge the action negatively of those who do not know God. God used Cyrus, he used a donkey, and he could still be using those who do not know him today.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for using your people for your service. I thank you for using those who do not yet know you to accomplish your will. I thank you for your wonderful plan that you allow us to be part of. I love you Lord. Amen.

34:14 When they took out the silver that had been brought to the Lord’s temple, Hilkiah the priest found the law scroll the Lord had given to Moses. 34:15 Hilkiah informed Shaphan the scribe, “I found the law scroll in the Lord’s temple.” Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan. 34:16 Shaphan brought the scroll to the king and reported,17 “Your servants are doing everything assigned to them. 34:17 They melted down the silver in the Lord’s temple18 and handed it over to the supervisors of the construction foremen.” 34:18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” Shaphan read it out loud before the king. 34:19 When the king heard the words of the law scroll, he tore his clothes. 34:20 The king ordered Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah,19 Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, 34:21 “Go, seek an oracle from20 the Lord for me and those who remain in Israel and Judah. Find out about21 the words of this scroll that has been discovered. For the Lord’s fury has been ignited against us,22 because our ancestors23 have not obeyed the word of the Lord by doing all that this scroll instructs!”24

With the last few Kings of Judah, we see a cycle of boom and bust – obedience to God and rebellion against God. Each Kings seems to directly reject the leadership of the previous King (thier father) when it came to religious matters. The Kings who rebelled against God failed the nation of Judah and it became weak. The Kings who were obedient to God help Judah to be success and the nation prospered. This distinction is made so clear in scripture, yet king after king still rejected this truth. We need to learn from the example of all of these kings.

We can be zealous for God and follow him completely leading us to the success that God has planned for us. Our other choice is to rebel against God and fail. We will fail to live us to God’s dream for our lives. We will fail to live up to our potential. We will fail to live a life that truly makes a God given difference. I often wonder what the lives of people like Gandhi, Hitler, Bill Clinton and many others would have been like if they had been following the one true God. When you consider those three people, you see one who lead a exemplary life, one who lead a villainous life and one who has (and continues) to lead a mediocre life. Yet, they all had amazing potential. Gandhi could have been greater. Bill Clinton could have made a real and lasting difference in this world and who know the great works the genius (unfortunately evil) of Hitler could have fostered. We may never know the answer to these questions, but we do have the ability to follow zealously after God and reach the potential God has for us.

Heavenly Father,

I know you have a plan for us. This plan includes a future of love, joy and service. It is not a promise of an easy life, but it is a promise of a life on mission with you. I thank you for loving each of us so much that you would truly create a great and precious plan for each of us. Lord, help me to serve you and be part of your mission on earth. I love you Lord. Amen.

32:1 After these faithful deeds were accomplished, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He besieged the fortified cities, intending to seize them.1 32:2 When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had invaded and intended to attack Jerusalem,2 32:3 he consulted with his advisers and military officers about stopping up the springs3 outside the city, and they supported him. 32:4 A large number of people gathered together and stopped up all the springs and the stream that flowed through the district.4 They reasoned,5 “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” 32:5 Hezekiah6 energetically rebuilt7 every broken wall. He erected towers and an outer wall,8 and fortified the terrace of the City of David.9 He made many weapons and shields.

32:6 He appointed military officers over the army10 and assembled them in the square at the city gate. He encouraged them,11 saying, 32:7 “Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic12 because of the king of Assyria and this huge army that is with him! We have with us one who is stronger than those who are with him.13 32:8 He has with him mere human strength,14 but the Lord our God is with us to help us and fight our battles!” The army15 was encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah.

Just a few days ago, I was talking with a lady who is serving a six month internship at the new Kansas City Teen Challenge Girls Center.  She is a woman who has made some radical changes in her own life and now seeks to serve God in youth focused ministry.  She has truly seen God work.  We were talking about a $100,000 grant application that we put in with a local Christian foundation.  I made a comment that we were more likely to get $50,000 which would still be great.  She looked at me and commented that we need to believe God for the whole thing.

After twelve years in fundraising, I have learned how to raise money, read giving situations and even predict results at some level.  It seems I have forgotten one very important thing – the power of the Holy Spirit.  Many years in secular fundraising have made me so used to the art and science of fundraising that I have forgotten the Spirit.

King Hezekiah knew about faith.  A much larger army came against him.  He knew only the Lord God Almighty could defeat this army.  He had the faith to believe it was going to happen and because he was following God, it did.  I realize this is the kind of faith that I need.

Heavenly Father,

It is easy to begin to rely on your knowledge, experience and skills.  However, I know that the power of your Holy Spirit transcends all of these.  I thank you for your sovereign power to work things out as you choose.  I thank you for caring about our situation in Kansas City.  Lord, I ask for more faith.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

30:1 Hezekiah sent messages throughout Israel and Judah; he even wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, summoning them to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem1 and observe a Passover celebration for the Lord God of Israel. 30:2 The king, his officials, and the entire assembly in Jerusalem decided to observe the Passover in the second month. 30:3 They were unable to observe it at the regular2 time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. 30:4 The proposal seemed appropriate to3 the king and the entire assembly. 30:5 So they sent an edict4 throughout Israel from Beer Sheba to Dan, summoning the people5 to come and observe a Passover for the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem, for they had not observed it on a nationwide scale as prescribed in the law.6 30:6 Messengers7 delivered the letters from the king and his officials throughout Israel and Judah.

This royal edict read:8 “O Israelites, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so he may return9 to you who have been spared from the kings of Assyria.10 30:7 Don’t be like your fathers and brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their ancestors,11 provoking him to destroy them,12 as you can see. 30:8 Now, don’t be stubborn13 like your fathers! Submit14 to the Lord and come to his sanctuary which he has permanently consecrated. Serve the Lord your God so that he might relent from his raging anger.15 30:9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and sons will be shown mercy by their captors and return to this land. The Lord your God is merciful and compassionate; he will not reject you16 if you return to him.”

King Hezekiah of Judah could have easily lead his nation into repentance to God without including those from the nation of Israel.  However, Hezekiah knew that the brotherhood that was created by their mutual worship of the one true God was more important than their nationalistic tendencies.  It would have been easy for him to only invite his own countrymen, but he knew that God wanted all of his people to come back to him in real worship.

Often, Christians let nationalism and other forms of pride get in our way of doing God’s will.  Yet, our faith call us to a much higher standard.  We are to unite together to reach the whole world for Jesus Christ.  We cannot let petty squabbles about politics get in the way of giving the whole world the Gospel truth.  The catholics and protestants in Ireland must stop killing each other and start loving the world.  The true Christians in the United States must put aside petty theological differences and start to doing the Gospel, instead of arguing about the inconsequential.  We have been called to a higher standard and we have failed miserably to meet it.

Heavenly Father,

Your have given us a standard of unity and action.  Forgive us for our tendency to strife and complacency.  You have given us truth and life.  Forgive us for our triviality and mundane living.  Lord, help each of us who truly call on your name to learn to serve you with everything we are or ever will be.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

24:1 Joash was seven years old when he began to reign. He reigned for forty years in Jerusalem.1 His mother was Zibiah, who was from Beer Sheba. 24:2 Joash did what the Lord approved2 throughout the lifetime3 of Jehoiada the priest. 24:3 Jehoiada chose two wives for him who gave him sons and daughters. – 2 Chronicles 24:1-3

24:17 After Jehoiada died, the officials of Judah visited the king and declared their loyalty to him.16 The king listened to their advice.17 24:18 They abandoned the temple of the Lord God of their ancestors,18 and worshiped19 the Asherah poles and idols. Because of this sinful activity, God was angry with Judah and Jerusalem. – 2 Chronicles 24:17-18

25:1 Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem.1 His mother was Jehoaddan, who was from Jerusalem. 25:2 He did what the Lord approved,2 but not with wholehearted devotion.3 – 2 Chronicles 25:1-2

25:14 When Amaziah returned from defeating the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people32 of Seir and made them his personal gods.33 He bowed down before them and offered them sacrifices. 25:15 The Lord was angry at Amaziah and sent a prophet to him, who said, “Why are you following34 these gods35 that could not deliver their own people from your power?”36 25:16 While he was speaking, Amaziah37 said to him, “Did we appoint you to be a royal counselor? Stop prophesying or else you will be killed!”3 – 2 Chronicles 25:14-16

26:3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for fifty-two years in Jerusalem.5 His mother’s name was Jecholiah, who was from Jerusalem. 26:4 He did what the Lord approved, just as his father Amaziah had done.6 26:5 He followed7 God during the lifetime of8 Zechariah, who taught him how to honor God. As long as he followed9 the Lord, God caused him to succeed.10 – 2 Chronicles 26:3-5

26:16 But once he became powerful, his pride destroyed him.21 He disobeyed22 the Lord his God. He entered the Lord’s temple to offer incense on the incense altar. 26:17 Azariah the priest and eighty other brave priests of the Lord followed him in. 26:18 They confronted23 King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not proper for you, Uzziah, to offer incense to the Lord. That is the responsibility of the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who are consecrated to offer incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have disobeyed24 and the Lord God will not honor you!” – 2 Chronicles 26:16-18

Joash, Amaziah and Uzziah all started out strong (admittedly Amaziah was only half-hearted from the beginning.) They did what was right in God’s eyes. Joash repaired the temple and made sure the sacrifices were being offered properly. Amaziah and Uzziah followed God’s lead by keeping the people worshiping God and only fighting other nations when God approved. Yet, none of them finished strong. None of them were able to do what was right throughout their lifetime. In fact, in each case when a Godly adviser/priest died their loyalty to God died. This strongly illustrates the point that our loyalty to God must come from within or it will not stand the test of time. Joash, Amaziah and Uzziah started strong because of Godly advisers but could not finish strong because they never took the advise to heart and made it their own.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for Godly advisers and teachers in our lives. I thank you for loving us so much that you would teach us right from wrong and warn us to place these teaching in our own heart. Help me Lord to learn from those you have placed in my life and to place these truths in my own heart. I love you Lord. Amen.

23:8 The Levites and all the men of Judah did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each of them took his men, those who were on duty during the Sabbath as well as those who were off duty on the Sabbath. Jehoiada the priest did not release his divisions from their duties. 23:9 Jehoiada the priest gave to the officers of the units of hundreds King David’s spears and shields that were kept in God’s temple. 23:10 He placed the men at their posts, each holding his weapon in his hand. They lined up from the south side of the temple to the north side and stood near the altar and the temple, surrounding the king. 23:11 Jehoiada and his sons led out the king’s son and placed on him the crown and the royal insignia. They proclaimed him king and poured olive oil on his head. They declared, “Long live the king!”

23:12 When Athaliah heard the royal guard shouting and praising the king, she joined the crowd at the Lord’s temple. 23:13 Then she saw the king standing by his pillar at the entrance. The officers and trumpeters stood beside the king and all the people of the land were celebrating and blowing trumpets, and the musicians with various instruments were leading the celebration. Athaliah tore her clothes and yelled, “Treason! Treason!” 23:14 Jehoiada the priest sent out the officers of the units of hundreds, who were in charge of the army, and ordered them, “Bring her outside the temple to the guards. Put the sword to anyone who follows her.” The priest gave this order because he had decided she should not be executed in the Lord’s temple. 23:15 They seized her and took her into the precincts of the royal palace through the horses’ entrance. There they executed her. – 2 Chronicles 23:8-15

As you read through scripture, it become very obvious very fast that God keeps his word. Now this may not come as a great surprise to many (and it does to really surprise me), but there are many spots through out scripture that it looks like God’s promises are going to fall flat. God had promised that there would always be a descendant of David on the throne. Athaliah had killed all of the proper successor to the throne, but God saved one. For six years this young child was in hiding and Athaliah reigned even though she had no right to the throne. What Athaliah did not understand was that the throne was not a physical location. Just because she ruled Judah for the few years, does not mean she sat on the throne. The throne was about leadership established by God over his covenant people. God had decided a descendant of David would always occupy this place. Even during Athaliah’s reign she would never be able to sit on this God created throne.

Soon the leaders of the nation of Judah did what was necessary to bring the real king to physical power and Joash was placed on the throne and Athaliah was killed. Joash was only seven years old when he was placed on the throne and I am sure his advisers did the real governing, but God real choice for king was once again publicly on the throne. God keeps his covenant.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Father God that we can always rely on your covenant promises. Whey you say something will happen it happens. When you promise something it comes true. You remind us everyday that you are God and you are in control. Help my eyes to stay focused on you. I love you Lord. Amen.

18:14 Micaiah came before the king and the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?” He answered him, “Attack! You will succeed; they will be handed over to you.” 18:15 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you solemnly promise in the name of the Lord to tell me only the truth?” 18:16 Micaiah replied, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd. Then the Lord said, ‘They have no master. They should go home in peace.’” 18:17 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster?” 18:18 Micaiah said, “That being the case, hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left. 18:19 The Lord said, ‘Who will deceive King Ahab of Israel, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and die there?’ One said this and another that. 18:20 Then a spirit stepped forward and stood before the Lord. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’ 18:21 He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The Lord said, ‘Deceive and overpower him. Go out and do as you have proposed.’ 18:22 So now, look, the Lord has placed a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours; but the Lord has decreed disaster for you.” 18:23 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah approached, hit Micaiah on the jaw, and said, “Which way did the Lord’s spirit go when he went from me to speak to you?” 18:24 Micaiah replied, “Look, you will see in the day when you go into an inner room to hide.” 18:25 Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the city official and Joash the king’s son. 18:26 Say, ‘This is what the king says: “Put this man in prison. Give him only a little bread and water until I return safely.”’” 18:27 Micaiah said, “If you really do return safely, then the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added, “Take note, all you people.” – 2 Chronicles 18:14-27

“Take note, all you people.” These are some pretty powerful words. The nation of Israel stood against God. They had many, many prophets, but only one person in the whole kingdom who was a prophet of the most high God. King Ahab did not like to listen to him because he always prophesied failure and doom for him. That is so ironic because he also prophesied truth (except for the wonderful sarcastic comment he makes in the second half of 18:14.) There are a couple of things we can learn:

1. Always listen to what God is saying even if you don’t like what you are hearing. We may not like it, but it is truth. Truth that is bad news is better than falsehoods that sound good. Truth (God) wins every time, so we should at least know the truth.

2. Only surround yourself with and listen to Godly advisers. We are called by God to reach out to and love those who do not know him. But, we are not called to take the ungodly advice. It is one thing to create true friendships with those who do not know God. It is quite another to make them your source of wisdom.

Jehoshaphat also had some issues. Yes, he did serve the Lord God. He destroyed the Asherah poles and called the people to worship God properly and only. However, he failed to trust in God completely for his provision. He made an alliance with Ahab. One must ask why? If Jehoshaphat believe God for his victory than he did not need the godless evil Ahab as an friend in arms. Here is what we can learn:

1. Our closest allies need to be people who are following hard after God. We can never forget we are called to love everyone, but when we are serving God we need to be in service who share our vision and commitment to God alone.

2. God is our source of strength, victory and success. This sounds obvious and easy, but we often ignore it. We often fail to live it out. Keep it in focus.

In the end, God proved himself once again. Ahab was told to not go into this battle or he would not live. He even disguised himself so they enemy would not know to attack him as the king. However, his human disguised could not fool God and Ahab died. Interestingly Jehoshaphat, who remained in his royal clothing, came out unhurt.

Heavenly Father,

You have so many lessons to teach us. Help our ears to be open. You have so many things to say to us that we don’t want to listen to. Lord, help me be a person who truly listens to your word and your will. I love you Lord. Amen.