Tag Archives: Love

I Hate War

I can truthfully say that I hate war.  There are no good wars and I would have to ask if there are just ones.  Why am I saying this now during the time of Christmas?  This is a season for Joy and Love at the celebration of the coming Christ Child, so why talk about war.  Yes, Christmas is a time of Love and Joy, of giving and sharing, family and friends.  But at this time war is occurring, people are suffering and dying.  Militaries stand opposite each other seeking the opportunity to defeat the other.  Many will not come home at all and many will come home injured and maimed, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Families will not be together and even though it may be the troops in a faraway land who are threatened with physical harm the families back home suffer as well not knowing whether their loved ones are safe or are in harm’s way.  And all look for hope during their time of despair.

Christmas, 1970, was spent on a firebase in South Vietnam.  There was no joy there because a few hours earlier in setting up for a Christmas Eve cease fire there was a friendly fire incident where 12 of our fellow soldiers died.  Talk about rip the heart out of Christmas that will do it.  For the soldiers involved the exact cause is still unknown but the cause does not matter.  What matters is that 12 of our brothers did not come home to celebrate.  The ultimate gift man can receive is the gift of a Savior, the ultimate ruin is to have blood on your hands.  How, or rather, can they coexist?

Right now it is two weeks until Christmas 2015. Two Thousand and 15 some odd years since the first Christmas occurred, the actual Christmas Day.  We hold so strongly to that event so long ago and pull meaning out of the story even today.  At the same time, at least in America, most everyone is going nuts with shopping, lights, tinsel and general madness.  How much can they spend, how much says I love you, can I have as many lights on my house as the Griswold’s (yes, I watch National Lampoon’s Christmas and laugh).

So Christmas is coming once again and here I am talking about hating war.  Our nation’s fear level is increased about possible terrorist attacks within our nation, disturbing our peace at this time we hold dear.  Halfway around the world the military is fighting actual war and we are having to be prepared for more wars in different places, all combined with fears of possible threats around us.  If people cannot see the tragedy in this then they are blind.  If they cannot hear the cries of the suffering then they are deaf.  If they will not join and say that they also hate war then they are dumb.

I hate war and would choose to not go again to war.  But, if I must I will and if I could go in place of a young person and spare them the pain thus allowing them to know the fullness of life without seeing war I would go in their place.  And on top of it all this Christmas I will worship and rejoice at the greatest gift man has ever received, the Christ Child, born for you and for me.

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Flawed Christian, Pt. 2

This is part 2 of “Flawed Christian” and I would like to expound on what I meant in part 1. I said I was flawed and that is just what I meant. I am not perfect (I already said that) and I do not meet the standard Jesus set to be perfect as the Father in Heaven is. How am I not? Consider how you and I are created, we are tripartite beings, body, mind and spirit. Maybe you want to say body, soul and spirit, to me that is minor. We are three part beings.
First we are body, flesh, organic, we bleed and we sweat, we physically feel pain and pleasure. That is body. It is physical and it is what some people think is all we are. Further we all decay and eventually die. No getting around that except for one possible exception. A concept in Christianity is stated born once die twice. Born twice, die once meaning that once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we only die physically but we will live forever with God. I am not going to debate that concept here as it is not part of this story.
The only possible exception is Lazarus. Jesus raised him from the dead. It is written there that Lazarus was good and dead and ripe for several days when Jesus raised him. So, if Lazarus died then he died the death we all face and Jesus brought him back from the dead to live again. So did Lazarus die a second time? Now that is an interesting question to me. Could it be that in Israel right now is a little old 2,000 year old man who has a very bad attitude because Jesus brought him back from the dead and now he has to wait on Jesus coming back again. I know I would not be a happy camper. That is just some food for thought for the theological types.
I am 63 years old and not getting any younger. My body is physically decaying and beginning to break down. Is that a sin? No, that is the normal process of life. If the super Christian crowd prays for me to be healed what would it look like? Would it be the body of a young, healthy male or would it be the current state I am in being more comfortable and better able to perform normal routine activities? My point for this post is that I am flawed. I can no longer do many of the things I once could. Flawed is normal and I don’t have to try and be something I am not. Last summer I tried something I can no longer do. I was at the big city pool doing my water exercises and was watching kids jumping off the diving board with another lady who was doing the same thing as I was. She says that looks like fun, I think I will try it and she did. Nice dive lady. So I thought I would also and got up there on the board. Tested the board out for spring and distance of the steps with no problem. Planned on doing a simple jackknife and started to go up on one leg when the leg I went up on said “no you don’t.” I collapsed under me and I went off the board at a 45 degree angle on my shoulder in a complete belly flop that I sure was amazing to watch. No more going off the board for me.
We are mind, we have a brain (yes that is part of the body) that contains our learning ability. By this age mine should be chock full of knowledge and to an extent it is. 63 years of history and study and all kinds of stuff in there. Do you know the name of Dudley Do-right’s horse? I have that piece of wonderful knowledge stored away. But here comes a major factor in being a flawed Christian. The mind is where choices come in and quite often I choose that which is not pleasing to God and which He calls sin. I am flawed by my being weak in will and the choices I make. In Romans, chapter 7, Paul says that he does the things he does not want to do and does not do the things he should do. The great apostle Paul is saying he too is flawed. Puts us in good company I suppose.
How does Paul answer this dilemma? The answer is actually easy; the accepting of it is the hard part. In Romans, chapter 7, Paul goes on and says: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then in Romans, chapter 8, Paul ices the cake saying: “God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.”
This is Christmas folks, the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, God made man. God came down from heaven and became flesh and blood, just like you and me, an baby infant, helpless and totally dependent on his mother to bring him into the world. Further, God came down in the lowliest of places to the most humble of people, poor and in a distant land from home, alone.
Yet they were not alone by a long shot. Who did God send to bear witness of this miracle? Shepherds that is who. Guys working the graveyard shift minding their own business, nice quiet evening out looking at the stars and making small talk about the local camel races. And lo, an angel appeared to them and the glory of God shone all around them! Hey, I am awake, okay. Fear not, for I bring tidings of great joy. Go down and look for the son of King David (really dropping names here) born this day. Oh, and by the way you will find him in the stable, in a manger, a feed trough if you will. What, the son of the great king David in a stable, in a manger, for shame, for shame. But that is how God comes to you and to me, humbly, poor, not lifting Himself up. He comes as a babe, helpless, willing to just “be” himself, no being anything special. That is our King, willing to serve.
Therein lies the key, are we willing to just be a servant, nothing special? That is all Jesus asks of us. Will you and I give Him our flawed selves this Christmas and allow Him to use us as He sees fit. I know I am not worthy, that I am flawed and am a sinner of the highest order (there is actually only one order of sinner and that is chief) yet God still chooses to occasionally work through me.
I hope and pray our new priest (Rev, Dr.) is a shepherd who is will to be approached by angels who come proclaiming good news and I hope he knows where the best grass is for his sheep because I am needy. This Christmas, his first with us, I hope and pray he leads us to lift our voices and hands to worship the coming of the King, son of God and son of Man. All I can say is Baaahhhh! Merry Christmas.

Silent Night, Holy Night

Christmas Picture Two

I read a daily devotional this evening about a family that immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands.  They had three children, all born her, who later married three spouses each from different countries.  Well during at least one Christmas they were all gathered and they sang “Silent Night, Holy Night” each in their own language.  So I am guessing 5 different languages is probably the correct count. The devotional also quotes Luke, chapter 2, where the inspiration comes from.  Luke 2:8-14, “ And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.””  So I wonder what a multitude of angels praising God sounds like? 

As I write this I am listening to different versions of “Silent Night, Holy Night” on YouTube.  So far I have listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, some German choir singing in German, Sarah McLaughlin, and Pavarotti singing in Italian, along with Mahelia Jackson.  I am fixing to hear it performed by Johnny Cash with Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis.  Doubt I will listen to Justin Beiber or the Barenaked Ladies though.  Why have they all stopped their careers to do this song?  Don’t they realize they are joining voices with the heavenly host to praise God and to proclaim peace to those in whom He is pleased?  What do those verses in Luke tell us about angels and the proclaiming of the coming of the Lord, of God Himself and what does it proclaim to us?  Just found a rendition done in Persian with worship by Farsi.  It is the most stunning of all the ones I have heard, very holy and lifting me into worship of my Lord and Savior.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njS03C1tnrE 

We are each shepherds and we each tend our own flock by night.  Yes, nights are dark and they can be lonely and scary but we are dutiful to continue to keep watch night after night.  This verse in Luke says that angels will come to us in our night and will bring us good news.  The author, Luke, makes sure to tell us that when this angel comes to speak to us we will be frightened but that the angel will minister peace along with wonder at what is happening. 

Notice too that the good news is not what we would expect for the coming of someone to save us.  No white horse, no drawn sword, just coming as a babe, an infant, so totally helpless it would seem.  Not the way I would do it but then I am not in charge.  This verse simply calls me to be a witness to the coming of the Lord, to the love God has for all mankind. 

Am I willing to have my night interrupted by proclamations and worship and multitudes of angels?  Am I willing to go down to the village, to the stable no less, to bear witness of something so incredibly awesome as to defy everything we conceive of for this type of event? 

What is a heavenly host and what do they look like and sound like?  Angels are bad enough but now we have something else and lots of them, all making noise.  If you have served in the military and pulled guard at night in a hostile environment noise is not your friend, you want quiet, you want a silent night.  Yet here comes a multitude making lots of noise proclaiming that a baby has been born.  Maybe if they were proclaiming that the marines have landed and the cavalry is charging that might fly.  But no, nothing like that, just one more little infant that is helpless, more watching for the shepherds. 

Yet this Christmas Eve I for one am in a dark place, a night of sorts, and I am keeping watch over that which I have.  Yet this infant, now the risen Lord, still beckons me to witness His birth this Christmas.  His eyes are still pure, clear, and innocent as only that of an infant can be.  They pierce my soul, my heart, my mind, with such a blaze of light, of hope and mostly of His love.  Love that is for me and desires to be through me, to bring the light and the love to all the world.  He beckons me to lift my voice with the multitude of heavenly host and proclaim the coming of the One promised for forever.  If I add my voice it will then have the noise of a croaking frog joining in saying that indeed peace has come.  Peace has come as an infant, the Lord Himself has come in the form He chooses and it is not just good but it is very good.  Now I can be at peace as I stand watch at night.  Our world is dark, it can be said to be at night, dark and scary.  May an angel pop up by you this Christmas night and proclaim the good news of the birth of Jesus, the Lord, and the Christ and may he bid you to be a witness to the Lord of life.  May you join your voice with the multitude proclaiming glory to God in the Highest. 

Merry Christmas to one and all.  We have a Savior.  We have a Lord who is worthy of singing praises to, of being at peace resting in His arms.

 

The Gospel of Prayer

I have not blogged in a long time and for that I apologize.  No excuse will be offered for it would just be an excuse.  What I want to write about today has been on my heart for some weeks now since I learned of this prayer need.  Please join in payer and please spread the prayer need along to others.  Now the interesting thing is I cannot share the specifics of the prayer need because there is great danger concerning it.  The danger is the heavenly realm as well as in the physical world we live in where this need is.  So here goes saying what I can say without saying. 

First, I believe there is a spiritual world that is just as real as the physical world we live in.  There are many names for this and I won’t bother to try and begin getting into it.  And just as there is a God and Jesus Christ His son, our savior and Lord, there is a devil, Satan.  If you drop the letter d in devil you have the meaning of who he is, evil.  I Peter 5: talks about our adversary, the devil, who prowls around seeking whom he may devour.  And if he has half a chance he will. 

Now, so as to not give him any more due we serve the Almighty God Himself who through Jesus Christ has defeated Satan, the devil, and who lives and reigns.  The devil has no right on the life of a believer.  But until Jesus comes back, and I hope it is soon, we live in a fallen world where evil loves to party and make misery. 

With that brief theology lesson out of the way here goes with the story.  There are countries in this world where Satan has a much greater influence over the affairs of mankind.  You may be wondering if it could get worse that what the United States is going through right now (yes, this is a cheap political shot) but it can.  There is a woman who is pregnant with her second child.  The country she lives in does not like children, does not like multiple children and also likes to decide which sex of child can live or not live.  They will be ruthless to snuff out this life and cause grave circumstances in the lives of the parents.  Now this woman is a believer in Jesus Christ as God’s son and savior.  That is something else that this country looks very unfavorably towards.  So just starting out she and her husband have two strikes against them.  Well folks, they are not out because it takes three strikes in baseball to be called out.  With God nothing is impossible. 

Now, why has this gotten to me so deeply?  I don’t really know but I would like to offer some images that I think might help explain it.  I see a mother who believes in God and believing in God means believing in love.  Evil is the opposite of love and it hates love, seeking to destroy it.  But a mother’s love is beyond comprehension.  I am a man and I can’t get close to grasping it, I just see it and know it is real.  And this love is for the child she is carrying within her, moving, growing, sharing oneness with the mother. 

And evil is there seeking to destroy this helpless child, to rob the mother of being able to love and nurture and bring forth life into a world that is so desperate for love. 

All this pulls my heart and I would love nothing more than to go and camp out where this woman and her husband live and stop evil from attacking and killing.  But I can’t.  What I can do is pray and then I can pray some more.  Finally I can keep praying.  I can call on all the powers of heaven to intercede for this family in a far off country, people who I do not even know their names seeking God Himself to have mercy and to allow this child to be born into the loving arms of a mother who is spending nine months in fear and dread that evil will come knocking on the door to claim this precious life.  God, have mercy on this situation. 

That is what I can do and that is what I am asking for help from everyone who reads this blog post.  Would you please join in prayer for this un-named mother and her husband that God would intercede and bless them with a healthy child that they can love with the love of Jesus?  Then, would you please comment and simply say “I will pray for this child.”  Let your voice be heard in a small way. 

The interesting thing about this type of prayer is that we don’t know.  I know there is this situation, I do not know the name of the mother or the father (perhaps her name is Mary and his name is Joseph?) but I do not know the world into which the child will be born or its future.  I certainly do not want to play God.  But I do not want to see evil triumph, to rob and steal and kill. 

I believe in love and hope and I long for the day that a report might reach me that a child was born and that a mother and father are celebrating the new life.  That I will also blog and pass on.  But I ask you to seek God for this couple and I ask it in Jesus Holy name.  This is the gospel of prayer.  Amen.

Faith is…..Again

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5UR_Y3yOF8

Before I begin the attached YouTube song is called “Out of the Blue” by Don Francisco and is found on his Grace on Grace CD.  I own the CD but this is not my YouTube upload and I have not secured official permission to post the song.  If you like it please go and buy his music for a very rich blessing.  The song is saying that God comes into our lives and shatters life as we know it and brings in His life.

I like how God speaks.  He not only displays a mastery of language but also that of the fine art of communicating, that is getting across the point He wants to make.  Further, God has a very rich sense of humor.  You gotta love it!

Consider Numbers, chapter 22.  Again, I leave you to read the story and to read the full context, not just pick and choose.  At the start of the chapter the king, Balak, was trying to get Balaam to come to him to help keep from being wiped out by the Israelites.  This had been going on for a while when God finally released Balaam to go, but to only speak the word God told Balaam to speak.  So the next morning Balaam gets on his brand new, circa 580 (or so) B.C. donkey which came complete with leather upholstery and takes off.  Now, God was not happy with Balaam’s attitude and put an angel with a big sword in the middle of the road to deal with things.  Note that the angel had a big sword.  Balaam never noticed but his donkey did and they went round and round a few times about going on until the donkey had had it and just lay down refusing to go any more.  So Balaam smites (don’t you love King james English, smite) the donkey and God really lets loose with the art of communicating.  He gives the donkey a voice.

“Hey dude, what for are you beating me?  The donkey continues to discuss this matter with Balaam with it being a two way conversation.  Personally, I think I would have stopped with the first words out of the donkey’s mouth in bewilderment.  Balaam, nah, he just kept on arguing with a donkey.  There is a sign in a BBQ place I eat at that reads never get in an argument with a fool, bystanders might not be able to tell the difference.

My point is not the story of Balaam but rather how God communicates with us.  The point is that God does communicate with us.  God knows us, knows our needs, wants, thoughts, rights and wrongs.  To the very depth of our core being He, God Himself knows you and me.  You aren’t going to hide anything from Him, you aren’t getting away with anything, so don’t even let the thought linger in your feeble little brain.

Bare your heart and soul to your God, the God of heaven and earth.  Let it all hang out and while God is the master of communication we are but rank amateurs at best.  Cry to the Lord and even further seek for others to cry to the Lord on your behalf.  God does not need elequance to listen and hear us.

So what am I saying (or trying to say) and what is the point of this post?  First my motivation in writing this evening.  Over this past weekend I got hit with the proverbial sledge hammer.  Now mind you this is not a bad thing as being hit with a sledge hammer is often times.  Rather it was facing some facts concerning a situation and the reality found therein.  I hurt and felt deep pain but I must confess that I knew that I was going to be hurt regarding this situation.  Knowing it is coming is supposed to help one handle things but nah, never happens, it still hurts even though none of the parties involved wanted anyone to get hurt.

So, being me I took this pain to heart and curled up like the baby I am and woe is me, nowhere left to go but wallow in self-pity.  Have you ever done that?  Probably.  This went on for a full day and a half (actually a little more) until God communicated with me.  Now we bring in the long preface to this post.  For a donkey God chose to use someone’s blog, as in my own.  I received a note from WordPress that a post of mine from June was liked and commented on.  Cool, let’s go see who it was and what they commented.  So I went and of course I had to reread the post to see what I had said.  Can you saw Hee Haw here?  It’s donkey speaking time!

The post is titled “Faith Is.”  Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I posted and talked about faith but deeper than that I talked about Jesus Christ.  That is what I have to post about and talk about.  He is my all in all, Jesus is my life and my confession.

Here I am wallowing in my self-pity, woe is me.  It took God to use my own words to remind me that I am a person of faith and my faith is that there is substance greater than anything, repeat anything, that may try and rob me of the life I have in Christ Jesus.  My faith is evidence that He is greater, that God Himself is working in my life for His good pleasure to accomplish greater things in life that I could ever dream of.

People who read these words, do you hear what I am saying about you?  You are loved by God, the most high God of the Universe.  More importantly He is as wrapped up with loving you as much as William and Kate of England are with the new royal baby.  You, you are loved and cared for beyond your wildest imagination.  Sledge hammers may come but your father in heaven is there for you.  My you be blessed with His presence in your life.

Faith Is

I would like to start out asking for the forgiveness of all who take time to read my blog.  Most of my posts, well, all of them, are my thinking aloud to myself and working through the thought process of a topic that comes to me.  I do thank you for taking the time to read what I put down and hope and pray that it helps you challenge yourself in walking with the Lord.

I have started reading a book by Derek Prince on the Will of God.  In the opening chapter (I have just started reading it after all) Derek quotes from Hebrews, chapter 12, where Paul talks about Jesus being the author and perfecter of our faith.  That is the key that struck me and has me thinking.  You should see the wheels turning and the smoke coming out of my ears.

Now, yes, Jesus is the author of my/our faith.  But I had not thought about Jesus as the perfecter of faith.  What does that look like and where will that lead me?  I like to start with root word meanings.  Faith, that which we believe by; believe what, how, why?  The spiritual realm is unseen in the physical real in which we live, so it is something we cannot see and touch, there is no feely to it.  So is faith blind or senseless?  I think not, I think we can and should “know” what we believe.

Consider Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  This is the King Jimmy version which I love.  Faith is substance and evidence.  Those are both very tangible words.  Substance,  I picture reaching down and grabbing a handful of earth, to hold and feel.  Evidence, name your favorite court drama, the court is only interested in evidence, facts, what the witness knows to be true.  No opinions allowed.

By faith we hope for that which is unseen, we hope to hold that which is precious to us and that precious thing is God Himself who makes himself available to be held and seen.  And in Hebrews 12, quoted above, Jesus is perfecting this faith in us.  Oh, what glory we behold, what love can be so great.  Jesus wants us and is working to make perfect our sight of spiritual things, the spiritual realm about us, our spiritual lives, to be fully fulfilled in Him.  That is His goal for each of us and His work by the Holy spirit to bring about.  I say embrace this and welcome it with all of your being.

Reading in the area of Romans, chapters 3 and 4 (you get to do some of the work here) Paul then talks about faith compared to the law.  The law is harsh and hard, it is final, a yes or no proposition.  Faith seems to challenge the law but it does not, faith confirms the highest law, the law of the love of God, the law that says God is supreme and in that supremeness He choose all who would have Him and Him alone.  By faith are we justified and made righteous.  An image I offer is of you being brought into the great court, the high court.  You stand before the judge who hears the evidence against you and by the law is bound to find you guilty as charged.  Guilty, the word rings out though the court as the gavel bangs down loudly and the sentence is pronounced, guilty, guilty, guilty.  But then, yes, then, the judge rises from his seat, takes off his robe and walks around to the front of the bench to where you stand.  He joins you there and there he proclaims, “I will pay this debt, I will pay the price required of the conviction.” 

You have been freed, you have been set totally and completely free, just as if your crime had never been committed.  You are made righteous, whole again.  Can you imagine?  The depth and breadth of this freedom, granted by the same as who condemned you, done by his own free will.  He came down from the judgment set to pay the price for you.

It takes faith to see that, to grasp it, to hold it, to shed tears over the receipt of such love undeserved.  Faith in the unseen, the unknowable.  But we do know, we do believe, we do respond to this love, by faith and faith alone.  Yes, there is so much that I want, that I think I need, but that is all so shallow because the reality is that the spiritual realm is of so much greater importance that our physical real.

And Jesus is the perfecter of our faith.  So much can be said there that this post cannot begin.  But let it be sufficient that He is at work in our lives to bring us to Himself and His Father, perfect and whole.  That is happening right now, right now, day or night as you read this simple word.  Embrace that He is and you are and that it is alive and that it is well with your soul, for it is.

If just one Wang

This is both a call to the church and is a personal thank you to someone very special to me. Right now they are half way around the world answering God’s call on their life. They did not say Lord, send someone else, nor did they choose where they went. This person heard God call and obeyed.

A few weeks ago an email went out saying that they had learned of a person in very serious need of Jesus and a touch by the Holy Spirit. He had shared shared some things that indicated darkness in his life. So the call went out for prayer that at a meeting set up that Jesus would reach this young man. The young man’s name is Wang. Please keep him in your prayers as the light is reaching him and he is being led to the Lord.

Now comes the part that applies to you and me. Are we answering God’s call? Are we walking in the place that He has for His purposes? Are we touching lives for the Kingdom of God? Are we comfortable in our homes, in our society, in our lives? Are you?

I am not saying you or I is called to go halfway around the world but I am saying each of us is called of God to be the glove that His Holy Spirit fills and uses in this world. Yes, God wants to touch lives through each one of us and He really does not want us to be comfortable.

Kairos is a prison ministry and twice a year in the units where Kairos is located weekends are held where 42 inmates, convicted felons are allowed to come out of the general population to participate. I have sat with convicted murderers and other violent criminals and shared the love of Jesus Christ with them. Is it scary? Yes, at times it can be but when you go you go in the name of Jesus Christ.

I know people who cannot go into prison and I do not think I could go overseas on an extended call. Maybe health reasons, maybe things in the past that do not allow such efforts. But, and this is the important but, each of us is called. You, my friend, are called by God for His good purposes, for His Kingdom. Go, seek it, find it, and embrace it. Go, and go quickly. Eternity means so much more than anything now.

If just one Wang is reached by my friend over the course of 2 years then those 2 years are more than worth it and I would send them again. If one inmate comes to Christ because of Kairos then Kairos is worth it all. So I leave you with “If Just One Wang.”