Quote for 11/13/2018

so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.   Hebrews 9:28

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The priests in the temple would make blood offerings many times, because no blood would really do the job. It was just to remind everyone involved that there would come a spilling of blood that would take care of things once and for all.

“Once and for all.” As I typed that cliché phrase it just slammed into my head. Jesus shed His blood just once, and it was for everyone, for all.

The first time He came most people missed it. He was a normal guy to all appearances. There will be no mistaken identity when He comes again like a flash of lightning across the sky! That’s something I’m looking forward to!

Quote for 11/12/2018

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.   1 Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV

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Did your choice for political office win their election? Are you licking your wounds, despairing that your part of the world will crumble, because some heathen Mongol now holds the reins of power?

Either way, the election winner will serve God’s purpose one way or the other. That person, whether you agree with her or not, needs your prayers. Maybe they need them especially because they are as misguided as you think they are!

Pray for them earnestly. Give thanks to God that they were elected, because they will, in some way, perfect God’s will.

Many years ago I was elected president of my congregation. It’s a huge church and grade school. The responsibility is great! I only allowed my name on the ballot as a favor to the pastor. Without going into detail, I was not a good president. That just isn’t my strength. But it all worked out in the long run. I was part of a chain of events that furthered God’s will.

Whoever won the election you voted in, pray for them! They need your prayers to govern well and keep the peace!

The Harbinger & The Shemitah, Part 2

Harbinger and The ShemitahThe Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah by Rabbi Jonathon Cahn; an overview

The last installment left off with the USA having it’s start as the destination of those seeking relief from religious prosecution, an Exodus from Europe to start their own New Israel. The first full meeting of our government with President Washington and the full congress was at St. Paul’s Chapel in the nation’s capital of New York City, and Washington’s prayer/prophecy concerning faithfulness to God and His providence for the country.

The church had a sycamore tree planted on the property near the church. It grew over the years until September 11, 2011. It died that day, killed by falling debris from the Twin Towers. As it took the punishment of the wreckage, it’s end protected the church itself from any damage. Not so much as a window was broken. That church is known as The Miracle of Ground Zero, the only structure in that area to escape any real damage. It was used for months as a staging area for rescue and relief, which I find appropriate. Ground Zero itself was, at the time of Washington’s prayer, part of that church’s property.

So, on the very soil that saw the first meeting of our government, a shaking occurred to hopefully call the country back to God. For three weeks, the country’s churches were filled with frightened citizens looking for…something. An explanation? Reassurance? No one can really say for certain, other than it was not for penitence. After three weeks, attendance dropped back to previous levels. The shaking God sent caused no more than a collective snort of a snore before we rolled back over and to sleep.

How do we know this was a shaking sent from God and not just one of those lousy things that happens in an increasingly rotten world?

The answer lies in Isaiah 9:10. Isaiah was the prophet sent by God to a rebellious Jewish nation to deliver a shaking in the form of prophecy. God would send disaster. It was also predicted that Israel would pay no heed. Isaiah 9:9-10:

“9 All the people will know—
Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—
Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:
10 ‘The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with hewn stones;
The sycamores are cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.’”

Bricks refer to inferior building materials, as they were made of straw and mud. Hewn stone means they would take native rock out of the hills and use that. Likewise, the cedar is a much stronger tree than the sycamore. The meaning is that Israel would rely on its own strength and ability to plant and quarry instead of relying on God.

St Pauls treesSo what happened on September 11? The sycamore was destroyed. Its remains, including its roots which contained a brick, were displayed as a memorial to the disaster. What happened later? A conifer tree of a cedar type was planted in the exact same spot the sycamore had stood! The cedar that was planted in the place of the sycamore began to wither and die almost immediately. They tried to prune it, hold it up with ropes…anything to keep it alive. But it continued to wither along with the plantings all around it. It is a symbol of America’s continued withering as it refuses to return to God.

I can tell you that this story about the trees isn’t something I have simply read. I visited St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan and spoke with the security guard there. She confirmed every word. No one could explain why a perfectly healthy tree died, let alone why the hedges around it that had been there before withered away too.

So that takes care of the sycamore fell and was replaced by a cedar, which died. Just to be sure that the symbolism was clear, God made sure that a brick was found tangled in its roots.

Rabbi Cahn writes about how the United States, which was founded on prayer and dedicated to God, has abandoned God. Not only that, but we are committing the same atrocity of child sacrifice as the Israelites did before their own Babylonian exile. They sacrificed their children to Baal while we sacrifice ours to self, millions more than the Israelites ever did.

Now, the hewn stone.

Ground Zero CornerstoneWhen the new tower was set to get started, a 2 ton block of hewn store, cut from the mountains of New York state, was laid as a ceremonial cornerstone for the new tower, which our country would build bigger and better than what had stood there before.

Sound like a familiar refrain?

Other connections are the speeches given by our government leaders regarding September 11, 2001.

Senator Tom Daschle delivered a speech before Congress on September 12 to rally the nation. In it he quoted Isaiah 9:10, omitting the verse 9 which condemned the attitude of verse 10. He used the same words of defiance the Israelites used to proclaim our coming ascendency. He thereby invited judgement on the nation as he spoke on its behalf.

Obamas Signature

Obama’s signature, topmost steel beam

President Obama did the exact same thing, employing a paraphrase of Isaiah 9:10 years later in a speech observing the anniversary of September 11. As if one government official unwittingly inviting judgement was not enough. Obama also WROTE those defiant words on the final beam to be placed at the top of the new tower at Ground Zero. This placed those defiant words at the highest point of the highest building in America.

Altogether Jonathon Cahn, a Christian Rabbi, cites nine harbingers sent to warn the United States of the destruction it faces without repentance of its ways:

And there is more to come in The Mystery of the Shemitah.

Quote for 11/10/2018

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.   John 1:14

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John 1 is my favorite part of the Bible. I can almost feel the first mists of Creation as matter came out of nothing and the universe began to form as the Word went about the work of Creation.

After all the work was done, after the required time was past, He left the heavenly realm of God, came to earth, and was born as a Person; mere flesh and blood. Not everyone saw His glory. Some even asked rhetorically if anything good come out of Nazareth. But those who followed, watched, and listened with their hearts saw His glory.

They didn’t see His glory with their eyes, but with their souls. They didn’t bask in the light of His power, but in the warmth of His words. Those words had power, comfort, and eye-watering clarity for those who listened with the ears of faith that only God can give.

They were words of grace. They were words of truth. They were the words of God Himself, delivered by His only begotten Son, Jesus.

The Harbinger & The Shemitah, Part 1

Harbinger and The ShemitahThe Harbinger by Rabbi Jonathon Cahn is a companion book to The Mystery of the Shemitah.  Following is the first installment in a series overview of the book.

I believe many of us are familiar with the current state of the world in general and the USA in particular. We’ve heard the conclusion that, when we show God the door, as we have in schools and government, we get what we currently are seeing.

But what if something is in motion that goes far beyond the cultural turmoil we’ve seen? Following is a very high overview of information provided by Rabbi Jonathon Cahn in his book The Harbinger. There are a lot of intertwining events spanning centuries and even millennia. Allow me to start with the founding of our country and President George Washington.

St Pauls Chapel ExtThe first full meeting of our government with both houses of congress occurred in the nation’s first capital city, New York, NY. They met in a church – St. Paul’s Chapel – and prayed as the genesis of The United States of America. I’ll say it again; the first considered action of George Washington and members of congress after their first gathering as a government was to walk to a church, St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan, and pray for God’s blessing on their new country.

So much for separation of church and state, which you may not know appears nowhere in the Constitution. That’s an interpretation of the article regarding our government not being allowed to establish its own religion. That article is NOT a prohibition of religion within government as our moral guide, nor of worshipping God and acknowledging Him as we should.

Don’t believe me? President Washington prayed at that first meeting of our nation’s first government and essentially prophesied our future. The following is copied from http://www.propheticroundtable.org/ForeFathers/GeorgeWashington/A%20Prayer.htm

St Pauls Int

Where Washington prayed with members of congress for God’s blessing on the new USA

Almighty God,

We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field.

And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–George Washington

His prayer is also a prophecy. The second paragraph essentially says that, so long as we obey God and maintain the character He requires of us, we shall prosper. Without such dedication to God and His ways “…we can never hope to be a happy nation.”

If we withdraw from our relationship with God, He will withdraw His blessings from us.

That might sound familiar. It is the same blessing and curse given to the Israelites from God at Mt. Sinai, through Moses.

Those who first came here saw themselves as effecting their own Exodus from religious persecution in Europe. While The United States of America was not even a thought, their goal was to found their own New Israel.

That original intent and Washington’s prayer/prophecy seems to have cemented us in a covenant with God as a New Israel. If we should ever invite God out, we should expect “shakings” of our country to wake us up and return us to our true roots, our true God.

Next installment: the return to that church and The Miracle of ground Zero.

Quote for 11/10/2018

having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.   Ephesians 1:9-10 NKJV

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The Substance Hoped for is a novel of Christian fiction I wrote several years ago. One chapter is title The Nexus. The novel had a lot of subplots that go swirling around and eventually meet up in The Nexus: Jesus.

It’s a novel about faith based on Hebrews 1:11, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the essence of things not seen.” The setting is Jesus’ birth. You’ll recall there are many things that come swirling together at Jesus’ birth. They were all drawn to Him, the gravity, if you will, of His power and glory.

Jesus was the Nexus at the time of His birth. It is almost a foreshadowing of today’s Bible verse, except that it won’t just be shepherds, Wise Men, King Herod, and others that come circling in to His presence.

Finally, at the end of time, all Creation will fall toward the Nexus of Jesus, including you and me as we become one with Him completely…in heaven.

Quote for 11/09/2018

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.   James 1:2-3

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“When you’re up to your butt in alligators…” And we know how the rest of it goes. In the Christian world the objective is not draining the swamp. The objective is keeping your chin up and navigating the thing with Jesus’ help.

Keeping our chins up helps keep the putrid waters of this life out of our mouths. Keeping our chins up helps us to better see where we’re going.

Depending on Jesus for directions keeps us close to Him. Dealing with adversity using His strength makes us better people, better Christians. Each time we’re tempted to strike out on our own is another opportunity to choose Jesus and to once again be shown that’s the right choice.

The more we rely on Jesus and God’s Word, the easier the swamp gets.

We are very much the Children of Israel in the desert. We need to develop the discipline to always do things God’s way. Always! The desert never got easier, but with God’s help, the Israelites got better at it.

Just like the Israelites, after I time in the wilderness – wet or dry – we will cross over into the promised land!

Quote for 11/08/2018

For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.   Romans 13:6 NKJV

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Yeah, I’m not a big fan of this one either. Taxes and corruption usually go together like peanut butter & jelly…although the latter is a good thing. Recall that even Mathew who wrote one of the Gospels was formerly a tax collector and was surprised Jesus would have anything to do with him. After deciding to follow Jesus, Mathew made good on all of his dishonest dealings.

When the Pharisees tried to put Jesus on the spot by asking Him about whether to pay taxes, His response was to render to Caesar what’s his and to God what’s God’s.

We might not like the corruption of government and the waste of tax money, but if we’re being honest, you and I are corrupt too! The lesson is that we pay into the system called government and play by the rules of said government. Without it is anarchy, which is worse than corrupt government!

Just as the tabernacle and temple were imperfect reflections of heaven, so I will offer that perhaps government is an reflection of God. There’s a verse that see now we see darkly as through a mirror, but at the end we will see God face to face.

Obey the law so far as man’s law does not contradict God’s Law. Pay taxes; that’s part of the law too. We might not like it, but that’s the way it is due to sin.

Which reminds me of a personal “law” I often have to remind myself of: Everybody is somebody’s jerk, including me. And, apparently, the government.

Play nice, stay out of trouble, do what God says, have faith in Jesus, and we all get out of this alive. Forever!

Being Released

Shemitah – Hebrew, translated literally as “release.”

I first learned this word through the books “The Harbinger” and “The Mystery of the Shemitah,” both by Jonathon Cahn, a Christian Rabbi. He wrote these books when he realized that the pattern of US history over the last century has a strong parallel to the history of ancient Israel, their national sins. and their Babylonian bondage. This Saturday I’ll start a series about Rabbi Cahn’s book, The Harbinger. For now, let’s just take a look at what the shemitah is. First, a general explanation, then some quotations from Rabbi Cahn’s book, and finally Bible passages about it.

Christians are all familiar with the term “Sabbath.”

“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy,” warns the commandment. It was to be a day of rest commemorating God resting on the seventh day of the universe after spending six days creating it. What I didn’t know until a few years ago and reading Rabbi Cahn’s books is that there was also a Sabbath of years.

Jesus also informs the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath when they turned their noses up at His disciples picking grain to eat on a Saturday, which is the actual seventh day and the actual Sabbath.

Set FreeSabbath is to be a day of rest, a year of rest, and a year of…release!

I was recently reading back through “The Mystery of the Shemitah” and a passage captured my attention more than it had when I first saw it. Rabbi Cahn made some succinct comments about the Shemitah – the Sabbath Year, which I’ll reproduce below. You’ll see that it isn’t just about resting from physical work, but a rest – a release – from the world, from possessions which encumber. It’s a release to rest in the arms of our God without a care in the world.

The need to work for our food? Released!

The need to collect debts? Released!

The need to pay debts? Released!

RestingThe Shemitah strikes me personally as something very much like my bypass surgery in 2003. Was that a scary time? It certainly had its moments! But I remember that entire period from surgery through recovery very fondly. I was released – I was “shemitah’d” from the cares of life to just be. Eat, sleep, breathe…repeat as needed.

The law of Sabbaths from the seventh day to the seventh year to the seventh 7-year cycle was peculiar to the Israelites. Except for the commandment, God did not require these Sabbaths from any other people. However, I can’t help wondering what this world would look like if everyone on earth was “shemitah’d” from every debt and possession every seven years.

What a leveler that would be! There would be no oppression by debts lasting a lifetime, no burdens of a glut of unnecessary wealth. We would do nothing but rest on the grace of God’s providence in those times, a true rest from not just labor, but from the world!

The Mystery of the ShemitahHere are selected portions of Rabbi Cahn’s comments from his book “The Mystery of the Shemitah,” page 31. After reading those, I invite you to slowly, carefully…care-freely read the passages from Exodus and Leviticus describing these Sabbaths, these Shemitah’s, these blessed releases!

‘The Shemitah declares that God is first and above all realms of life, and must therefore be put first and above every realm. During the Shemitah was, in effect, compelled to turn away from these earthly or worldly realms and turn to the spiritual.

The Shemitah cleanses and wipes away, ends imbalances, levels accounts, and nullifies that which has built up in the previous years…It ends entanglements and brings release…The Shemitah requires people to release their attachments to the material realm: their possessions, their finances, their real estate, and their claims and pursuits concerning such things.

The Shemitah is the reminder that God is the source of all blessings, spiritual and physical alike.”

The Law of Sabbaths   Exodus 23:10-11

10 “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.

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Red highlights are mine.

The Sabbath of the Seventh Year   Leviticus 25

25 And the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.

The Year of Jubilee

‘And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. 12 For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.

13 ‘In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. 14 And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another. 15 According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you. 16 According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops. 17 Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.

Provisions for the Seventh Year

18 ‘So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety.

20 ‘And if you say, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?” 21 Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. 22 And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.

Redemption of Property

23 ‘The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me. 24 And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land.

25 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. 26 Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it, 27 then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. 28 But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.

29 ‘If a man sells a house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year he may redeem it. 30 But if it is not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to him who bought it, throughout his generations. It shall not be released in the Jubilee. 31 However the houses of villages which have no wall around them shall be counted as the fields of the country. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the Jubilee. 32 Nevertheless the cities of the Levites, and the houses in the cities of their possession, the Levites may redeem at any time. 33 And if a man purchases a house from the Levites, then the house that was sold in the city of his possession shall be released in the Jubilee; for the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. 34 But the field of the common-land of their cities may not be sold, for it is their perpetual possession.

Lending to the Poor

35 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. 36 Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. 37 You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

The Law Concerning Slavery

39 ‘And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. 40 As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. 42 For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. 43 You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God. 44 And as for your male and female slaves whom you may have—from the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. 45 Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property. 46 And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves. But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not rule over one another with rigor.

47 ‘Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, 48 after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49 or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself. 50 Thus he shall reckon with him who bought him: The price of his release shall be according to the number of years, from the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Jubilee; it shall be according to the time of a hired servant for him. 51 If there are still many years remaining, according to them he shall repay the price of his redemption from the money with which he was bought. 52 And if there remain but a few years until the Year of Jubilee, then he shall reckon with him, and according to his years he shall repay him the price of his redemption. 53 He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant, and he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight. 54 And if he is not redeemed in these years, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—he and his children with him. 55 For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Quote for 11/07/2018

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.   Romans 13:1 NKJV

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This passage always raises the question of whether you should obey the authorities, if they are evil. Of course not! Insofar as a government does not require behavior in opposition to God, we should obey whether we like a law or not.

There is another verse that urges us to obey the government for it “does not bear the sword in vain.” The government has the authority to jail you, whether you agree with it or not. Romans gives us sound, practical advice on staying out of trouble so we can be about doing God’s work, not languishing in a cell!

God will also allow evil nations to arise to ultimately be used for His purposes. Babylon rose to power, and God used them to punish Israel for its sins. Of course, God later destroyed Babylon for its wickedness.

Whether good or bad, all governments are in place by God’s edict, either by allowing them to exist or emplaced by Him. It’s all part of an unimaginable, life and death chess match between God and Satan.

Humble obedience is another way to profess our faith in Jesus. It is the same obedience He practiced His entire earthly life. We should do no less.