Time for Tearing Your Clothes

In my last entry, I wrote about mixed messages people hear from Christian leaders. The war within the body of Christ is raging, while the world is spiraling downward. Christian leaders want to throw stones at Joel Osteen and the “prosperity message” as though that message is destroying people’s salvation, and they are the holy hammer intent on stopping this heresy. Poppycock. Before I entered into recovery from drug use and alcoholism, I stumbled onto a TV show, (Joel), and heard the message that God loved me, He wasn’t angry with me, and I wept, and repented.

I shortly thereafter went to recovery and returned to the Father like the prodigal I was. I also heard someone at my home praying the “sinner’s prayer” while watching that program, and gave their heart to Christ. Many I have talked to have done likewise. Like Joel O or hate him, people come to Christ through his ministry, and he does not talk against his accusers.

My message to these men who feel they have the whole council of God and feel “led” to steer us away from prosperity preachers is…just preach the Gospel, not your gospel.

I also receive dozens of emails that point out America’s fall from grace. These emails want to correct this country spiritually, steer us back to the way it began, godly and moral. I see the point and truly believe God directed the founding and the morality of the countries fathers. The problem is that they were not all godly and some owned slaves, and we don’t want to return to that way, ask any African-American.

These emails also end with the fear of what will happen to you on judgment day if you don’t forward the email…“if you are not ashamed of Christ, you’ll forward this,” they warn. I delete them. My salvation is not based on passing emails nor am I ashamed of Jesus. Many are, so the emails continue on.

The Great Provocation
Why America is on a moral downward trend has more to do with Christians than our godless government. Christians have arrived at the same place Israel arrived at when the spies returned from the land of promised and made this statement:

“But the men that went up with him (Caleb) said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” Numbers 13:29 KJV

Okay, God had delivered Israel out of Egypt with showing His power. God opened up the Red Sea and drowned the pursuing army trying to return them to slavery. So they are afraid of those people in Canaan? They must have decided that God was leaving the rest up to them, no longer helping them.

I want to tear my clothes in grief over how we provoke God by doubting He has become limited with age. He no longer heals or prospers. Confessing the Word is heresy and will not bring you favor. The gifts of the Spirit passed with the apostles, we have the Bible today. God is neatly packaged and very predictable. Paul wrote for us to covet earnestly the best gifts, but rather that we prophesy. But that is over. I wonder, if God withdrew these gifts, did He withdrawal salvation too? I really wish He could make up His mind.

I want to respect everyone’s beliefs. Sorry if I sound cynical, I don’t know it all. I have had it with our chasing after prosperity ministers and uppity know-it-all preachers. We only need to see Jesus, love Him, serve people He died for. I choose to believe nothing is too small or too great for God. I certainly do not want to provoke His anger by saying He can’t or He no longer will.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

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Recovery’s Light

I’m not sure why I write this post, I do not feel prepared, but here goes. I have had this feeling about feelings lately. Faith says, “don’t trust your feelings.” I get that, faith believes in the unseen. Feelings, however, tell me that I need solid evidence before I respond. I may, by faith, jump right into a bad situation knowing that God’s Spirit is guiding, He will help me fix it, figure it, or flee it.

Feelings
It is a grave mistake to look at my feelings as faith killers. God made me, feelings and all. Feelings can be a “spiritual thermometer” that notifies me when I have the sense of separation from God’s presence in my life. I know that feelings warn me of complacency in my recovery from addictive behaviors. It is as though a light is shined on past pain that drove me to ask God’s help. In other words, feelings light up memories of events that were painful enough not to desire the repeat performance.

“I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Gal.5:16 

Faith
Faith moves mountains, slays giants, laughs in the face of impossibilities. Faith is my surrendering fear of failure, or being rejected by others so I can do the next “right thing.” Without faith, I have no need to attend recovery meetings, work the steps, or pray…they will not work. With faith, a light shines so intensely I see through deceptions and thoughts of “I cannot,” to “with God, all things are possible!” As faith arrives, recovery goes from, “this may really work,” to “this works, and I am working it!”

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Rom.10:17

The Big Difference
How do you know the difference? Feelings and faith come with you as you arrive on the planet, a special value package from the manufacturer, so to speak. Both grow and develop as we mature. The importance of feelings is recognizing them and rejecting the false ones, embracing the good.

Faith can make us overly zealous and reacting instead of acting, like answering a matter before we hear the whole story. That can be disastrous, and I appear as a prideful know-it-all.

“If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Gal.6:3

The light of understanding I receive in recovery from addictions, and in my journey with Christ Jesus, is that I accept faith and feelings as gifts. They are gifts that need balance, and much attention. If I ignore those feelings of God being distant or aloof, and just allow things to “happen,” the growth of faith will be “stunted,” complacency arrives, and every little unimportant matter takes preeminence over recovery and spirituality.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Pour Down Like Rain

Rain falls, saturates the dry earth and plants. Tree, flowers, crops, soil, all benefit from the rainfall. With no rain the plants wither and dry, the ground hardens and cracks, thirsting for a shower to end the drought.It appears all is lost when rain refuses to fall.
“O God you are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh longs for you; In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” Ps.63:1
I need the rain. You do too. Not the moisture falling from the skies…no, the rain that refreshes our spirits, the falling of His presence, saturating the depths of our spirits. Likes the trees and plants His rain falling on us, causing growth and producing fruit many feed from. The showers God sends to our inward man cause the cracked dry soil of our existence, become a dark rich loam, growing new seedlings in undeveloped areas, those places we have  ignored too long.
His showering to make us a well-watered garden, a picture of gracefulness, where everything produces after it’s kind. We being so saturated by Him, that living waters gush from within us so others may drink and be satisfied. God send the rain.
May the Lord send his rain down on you and fill your every moment with His Holy Presence. May you be known for His love in you. May His wisdom in you be obvious to all. May His kindness be your character, His name never leave your breath. May you grow, give, and gather through Jesus, the name above every name. Let it be.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

A Recipe for Spiritual Growth

The Seed
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance  and supplication for all the saints..” Eph.6:18
To grow spiritually, we need to pray. I have found this to be for me, the hardest spiritual exercise. It isn’t praying I find hard at all. What is difficult is to have a set time that belongs to me and “Abba,” free from distractions and interruptions. I have no problem praying as I go about my day. I may pray for my family, for social network request, for requests on the churches prayer chain, for those I work with, those I pass as I drive, those I work with in recovery, etc. It is my determination to spend time just talking with God in humility, on my knees, that I find hard to accomplish but necessary to grow into the stature of Christ.

The Fertilizer
“Every day will I bless You, and I will praise Your name forever. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” Ps.145:2-3
I don’t want to come to God in prayer empty-handed. I want to hallow His name, praise His mercy and grace, His steadfast love, and constant watchful eyes to defend and protect me from danger and evil. The book of Psalms reveals so much of God’s character. If you are like me, to praise and worship God before asking for anything in prayer, gives me the scriptural understanding that I have His attention. He inhabits my praise…in other words, that’s His address.

Add Water
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed in accordance to Your Word.” Ps.119:9
This is my bread…daily. I love the Word more than anything in life. If you want to know God better, or at all, grab a Bible and devour it. I often hear others say,” I don’t understand it, so I have no interest in it.” There are several new paraphrase versions, the Message, Good News, NLT, etc., that anyone mentally competent can understand. It is spiritual competence that is the problem, in truth.

Putting these together, prayer is like a seed, fertilized by our praise and adoration to God, watered by the living Truth of His Word. Though I find a set prayer time difficult, I find it much easier after I fertilize the soil of spirituality with praise, and realize the goodness and purity of the One I am addressing. Reading the Word creates the environment to praise and honor God, and like a cycle, prayer makes me grow in my understanding of the Word.

If you struggle with any of these, ask God in sincerity to open your spiritual understanding, He will. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Hear The Prophets

Sir Winston Churchill was a voice crying in the wilderness. Prior to WWII, he warned the people of Great Britain of the danger that Adolph Hitler posed. Then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, met with Hitler in Europe and returned with cheers from the Brits, having obtained Hitler’s word and signed agreement of no further aggression in Europe. Churchill knew better, Hitler could not be trusted, and within a short time, the aggression began. Churchill was right, but few believed him.

In the Old Testament, from Isaiah to Malachi, the warnings to Israel and Judah from these prophets fell on deaf ears. Actually, their ears heard, but the people would not heed them. People do not want to believe their world would possibly change, or that anything they are doing needs to be altered and that may bring judgment. Israel and Judah were stripped from the land God promised them, carried off to be enslaved by a pagan nation. Every warning was ignored. In Deuteronomy 28, Moses declared the blessing of keeping the laws of God, and the cursing. In the children of Israel’s history, they experienced the blessing, and the cursing to their entirety. Yes, the worst of the curse that would come if they refused to obey the law happened. They did eat the flesh of their own children.

…”Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets and you shall prosper.” 2Chron.20:20 NKJV

The New Testament has equal warnings, but not just to Israel. These warnings came from Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John. Matthew 24, Jesus tells the signs for the disciples to watch for. In 2Tim.3, Paul, under inspiration, told of the last days and what people would be like. Take a few moments and read these two passages. If you don’t see how these passages reflect our day, think hard and read it again. People have said, those events have happened throughout the ages, our times are no different. That is saying, “I don’t believe that.” Many people don’t believe it. Six plus billion people in this world, and few believe it. “The majority can’t be wrong.” people say. Friends, the majority is normally wrong.

We have fallen into a deeper hole from years of ignoring warnings of the few bold enough to say “STOP.” The inability of people to say no to their desires and cravings have led millions into addictions to drugs and alcohol, as well as pornography, gambling, etc. The schools systems have beaten biological evolution into the minds of people, that even the most brilliant minds believe it. Now that this demonic doctrine is falling apart, many are scrambling for a new explanation of how we came to be. The government has decided that it knows what’s best for the people and enact laws that force behaviors and denounce God’s ways on every platform. Truth is objective. We have arrived. The warnings have been ignored.

The main thing for you and I to remember to do is, keep praying for all people. Our failure to do so has a horrendous effect on ourselves and those near and dear to us. Pray for your neighbors, for the leaders, for the churches. Then, take a look at those passages, they are earth shaking and revealing of this time. When you see this, then see you. What controls your thinking? Your actions? If you see personal need of change, pray for yourself too.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

A New Identity, Discover You

Coming to, after years of living the party life opens new realities of the person I was, I became, and now am. It’s hard to look at. Seeing the early years of innocence turn into a long period of self-centeredness may be difficult. What I could have been, should have done, can dominate our thinking to the point we live full of remorse. In recovery from alcoholism and drug use, my eyes have been opened to the fact that no action I  performed, good or bad, is wasted if I am bent on using both for serving others. God uses every detail of our lives to His glory through us. This glory He receives graces our lives, for everything we give to Him, He returns to us in untold, innumerable ways.
As a child we see things through rose colored glasses. Mommy and Daddy are the best people in the world. Our view of God is obscure and normally directed by parents, or grandparents views. This may be a shock to you but that strongly affects our future. Parents teaching their children views about God as a storybook, sitting in heaven too busy to answer our small problems, is a major problem. Or the parents may pass their religion that they are faithful to, on to the child. That belief has God waiting to pounce on them the moment they do something sinful, and they will. “You have to walk the walk if you talk the talk,” is how they present God to their children, as though the individual has all to do with their salvation.
The problem here, is that after multiple failures, and asking for forgiveness, and salvation over and over, the young person gives up and considers themselves hell bound. The years of self-service begins. The individual figures, “what’s the use, I can’t live it.” They’re off to the races, living for themselves, along with the multitudes of those who didn’t think God had time for them. Sadly, addiction to drugs, and alcoholism, along with many other character flaws, lie in their path…no one told them the truth. The child becomes a parent, the views of God and religion continue. There are thousands upon thousands of children here in the USA that have never darkened the doors of a church.
What’s the right view?
“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ becomes a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2Cor.5:15-17 NLT
This may shock you. It is nearly a blessing for some that they get into problems from committing crimes, incarcerated, or sentenced to recovery meetings. That may be their opportunity to hear the gospel, and see that God cares, that He is concerned about every detail in their life. in their desperation they hear the good news about Jesus and His great love for them, and many choose Him. The beauty of this decision is that it brings a new view of self, cleansed from the rags of the past. Having this new understanding of God, that He is love, and that there is someone to answer to when they sin that readily forgives them, without a new babtism, or return to church and performing rituals for forgiveness. Self-discovery  follows and becomes the central focus of their recovery as they for the first time see purpose. God used the broken vessel, lovingly putting it back together again.
Don’t fail to give your child the real Jesus based on the Word. If you don’t know Him, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will, and you will have eternity with God to pass on to your children. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Don’t Allow the Rocks to Do Your Job

I’m not going to relate the story of Job from the Bible, hopefully you are aware of it already. After he lost all of his children and  everything he owned, instead of pointing an accusing finger to heaven and asking, “why have you done this to me God!”, he did the opposite. He tore his garments in grief, fell to the ground, and WORSHIPPED. When he later had oozing, painful boils on his body from head to toe, and his wife said to him, “curse God and die,” Job said, “though He kills me, I will still trust him!” Could you do the same?
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Hab.3:16-18
Jehoshaphat king of Judah, was told of invading armies from three countries, coming to wipe Judah off the earth. Jehoshaphat assemble the people, and made this statement to God in prayer: …”we do not know what to do; but our eyes are upon You!”
The God spoke to the people through a prophet and said:
Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. The battle is not yours but Gods.” 2Chron.20 (read this entire chapter, it has more spiritual principle than any chapter in the OT…my humble opinion.)
The battle was ready to begin, and Jehoshaphat placed who in the front line? his best men? himself? No, he placed the singers and the worshipers ahead of the army. They began to praise God in the splendor of His holiness…and God sent ambushments against the invaders, they thought they were being betrayed by each other, and they killed each other!
“Let all who take refuge in you be glad, let them sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous, You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.” Ps.5:11-12
As Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the people were praising Him, throwing palm branches before the small donkey he rode. The religious people said, “make these people stop giving you praise!” Jesus said: “I tell you…if they keep quiet, THE STONES will cry out.”  Luke 19:40 (Not the ones from England that roll) If the people who love God refuse to honor Him in praise, the rocks will. God will be praised!
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens.” Ps.8:1
“I call to the Lord who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” Ps.18:1
“Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” Ps.29:1-2
No matter what you may be going through today, what has happened in your past, make praise a priority in your life. Things may be going downhill fast, nothing to eat, no money for gas, or you may have a child on dope, no matter what is going bad in your life right now, begin to do as Job, and king Jehoshaphat did, praise the Lord, sing praises, psalms, make up a new song! God will do battle for you against your opposition, and give you favor.
When you praise Him, it is like a child crawling up on their daddies lap and saying, I love you daddy, you are the best daddy in the world! What would you do for your child if they did that in sincerity? Abba means daddy. Lift your hands to him in surrender as a child and say, “Abba, pick me up, I need Your help!” and He will. Don’t allow the rocks to do your job.
“Wash your face every morning with praise.” Charles H. Spurgeon
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

A Month of History and Help

I am convinced that people who have never had the grand pleasure of being addicted to drug use, alcohol, gambling, porn, overeating, etc., or have had mental health issues, or have had no family or friends with any of these issues…yet, could care less that February is National Recovery Month. In the same respect, people outside of the African-American community, have little interest in Black History month, unless they are history-buffs. There are many other months that the government recognizes for people of various heritages, Irish, Hispanic, Jewish, Filipino, et al, that I had no idea existed. This is the way we Americans celebrate various cultures in our country, ignoring them. Awareness has become, and is becoming more important to me as I grow in recovery, and in Christ. The reasons for their importance is the three tenses, past, present, and future.
Past
Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius “Those unable to catalog the past are doomed to repeat it.” Lemony Snicket, The End
I love history. There is little of the past that doesn’t intrigue me. Americans have this tendency to be so busy racing to the end of life from the time of their adolescence, until in their late forties, when sensing their mortality, and slamming on the brakes of time, and calculating how fast things happened. Just a few years ago, when the kids were little…we pause in reflection of how good the past was, those warming memories of loved ones passed, prices in grocers and restaurants, old TV shows, and the like. If we can look at the importance of the past to teach us the treasure of living one day at a time, we would never be in the zoom-zoom mode, and see the past for what it truly is…a professor of now, and tomorrow.
Black history is important. As a society, we should never want to see happen to a race of people that happened to them. The history of how slavery of African peoples came to be, must  be viewed as diabolical, the greed and treachery of men, never to repeated at all cost. But my view today is not to remember the how, but the why, and look how this culture has risen out of their low estate, to prominence. The focus today should  be on the history and the admiration of a people’s rise from ashes. The contributions of  African-Americans, both noted and unknown, can help every American see that all people, all cultures are important to society.
One more quote:
“I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.” -Morgan Freeman 
Present
To believe that slavery ended in the nineteenth century is error. I am not referring to the 27 million slaves in the world today, but the millions of Americans addicted to substance abuse, those chained to fears and mental illness, and to love of self, desiring more and more things that have everything but happiness included. Recovery month is obscure to most Americans, mainly because of apathy, some ignorance too. We don’t know, and we don’t care, until directly affected. Get involved, don’t wait for others. Find ways to be a part today, and if nothing else, pray daily for the nation.
The actions I take today has a great effect on my tomorrows. Making decisions early each day to give God the first acknowledgement ahead of what I want to do, has a profound influence on the rest of the day. Each one of us who have been graced with the gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, as well as those of us with the gift of sobriety, should be deeply aware of the danger of ignoring the past, get our spiritual battle gear on, and fight the good fight against slavery to addictions in the realms unseen, the real battlefield. Now, today, the present is the day of salvation. Time is short and even Jesus said we should pray for laborers to enter and work.
“In an acceptable time I have heard you. and in the day of salvation I have helped you,” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2Cor.6:2 “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into HIS harvest.” Matt.9:37-38
Brighter Future
We all want the future to be an improvement. The Black history month, Irish, Hispanic, Jewish months, are months we reflect on the past of suppressed peoples, living and contributing in our society today. Through prayer, awareness of this new slavery to substance abuse, and the old ploys of the enemy, using fears to drive greed, hatred, racism, and all other forms of evil, these can be shaken, and strongholds he has built up into the minds of individuals, even entire communities can be toppled.
Forgiveness is key, allowing the light of God’s Word to infiltrate those dark areas we have placed bitterness, and allowed it to fester, rejecting other cultures and their contributions, can be banished. We must make the conscience decision to love. It is Christ alone that can bring us as a people, to accept and unite. The government cannot, secular education will not. It is spiritual in nature, only by understanding the plan and purpose of God can we say, “I once was blind but now I see.”
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep us all.

Eyeballing Death, with Joy

“People living deeply have no fear of death.” Anais Nin
“Reality means you live until you die…the real truth is nobody wants reality.” Chuck Palahniuk
I can say, without reservation, I have never seen so many people within my sphere of friends and acquaintances, passing away with such frequency. What is happening? It isn’t the elderly, that would be expected. People under retirement age, most less than 60 years, are entering into eternity long before the average age of a man or woman to live. Working with alcoholics and addicts would cause one to think that isn’t so odd, you deal with that often. It is not people with addictions leading this parade of sorrow. Sickness disease, and accidents are the causes of late, and my mind is thinking darkly, “who’s next?”
Death can have different effects on different people. When an acquaintance passes, I normally have little emotional reaction to their passing…at first. It usually smacks me in the face a couple of weeks later. I have this sudden realization, they’re gone, lost to the ages! Memories of times we talked, or were together in school or partying fill my thoughts. I then see how frail life is. Questions come into my mind of what their final days were like, or after they were diagnosed, how did they react?…how would I react?
I have so much gratitude to God for the grace He has shown me through Christ. That grace extends over all of my life, casting those fears of death and living, that could give me a paralysis to think and act in joy through sorrow that is personal, knowing my end is the beginning of life. Those passages spoken at funerals, the 23rd Psalm, Paul’s writings in 1 Cor.15, open up thanksgiving within, amid weeping and grief around me.
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “death is swallowed up in victory,” O death where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” 1Cor.15:54-55
Faith, hope, and love in Christ is the internal knowledge that eternal life awaits those who trust in the Lord Jesus, that we who trust in Him shall stand in the sunlight of His presence on that day the sun never again sets. There is no pipe dream, no explanation to be given to the unbeliever. This reality of what will be is born in “new birth” as we put all our hope and dreams in Christ. The joy, however, comes with the revealed presence Who is present in us now in our sorrows and grief, knowing that He has taken the sting of death, the darkness of the grave away, and shepherds us, bearing our sorrow and grief for us.
Hear me well here. No other belief system, no other god of man, no educational reasoning, none, offers what Jesus offers when you ask Him for mercy, and forgiveness, and to enter your heart as Savior and Lord. He has no rejection, never says no to that request. If you want to eyeball death peace and joy, make the request. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Devotional- Start the New Year Right!

securedownload backmatter If you do a daily read as a personal devotion, this book can be an excellent tool in helping you grow in Christ daily. It is written with those suffering with addictions they want to stay free of with God’s help. It is helpful with any hurt, habit, and hang-up you or a loved one may struggling with. Some who have purchased the book that don’t have a problem personally have said it is what they use as their daily read as well, and it has helped them, and given them a better understanding of how to help those with addictions and hang-ups.

Many people make resolutions at year’s end they plan to do in the upcoming year for self-improvement, and one of the top goals is to start a daily read and time with God. This is a great book to use along with your Bible and I suggest a personal journal too. I like to read a chapter from Proverbs, a Psalm, along with a daily page, and that is perfect to use for my morning program, as we call it in recovery.

You can find the ebook version at Kindle and Nook, and the paper-back at Amazon.com or you can go to Barnes and Noble (no relation) tatepublishing.com, and nearly any bookstore can get it if they do not have it on the shelf. If you want a signed copy, you can go to www.skeithbarnes.com and I will sign it and mail it to you as fast as possible. The site has paypal, and accepts all major credit cards. If you go to my site, be sure to add $3.00 for shipping, anywhere in the US, and $5.00 outside of the country. The cost is $21.50, plus tax, or $23.00 total, $26.oo to ship. I would like to suggest that if you have a loved one with an addiction, get this book for them, something that points them to real living in Christ, instead of a shirt they may never wear.

Thanks for reading, thanks in advance to those who buy the book, have a wonderful, blessed Christmas, with Jesus the center of attention!