Passion Week V

As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:37-40 NASB)

I noticed we have either two crowds (disciples and travelers), or one crowd with interlopers (disciples with Pharisee interlopers).  Along through Luke I have contended that the Pharisees with whom Jesus is in dialogue as He moves about are actually disciples of His; or at least followers.  If that was true, at this point these wish to distance themselves from Jesus’ followers.  Have these Pharisees “repented” from following Jesus?

First off, “crowd” in verse 37 and “crowd” in verse 39 are actually different words.  Before you get confused, they aren’t related to each other either.  One refers to a “bunch of somethings” in other words, a subset of a larger category, hence “crowd of disciples”.  The other is a noun, a complete category.  At least I thought that was the case. It’s nice theory, but it’s wrong.  I looked it up thinking I had found something possibly profound, and easily disproved it.  It happens to me a lot actually.

The two are different words, but essentially synonymous; at least as they refer to crowds of people.  I believe that Luke is using a literary device at this point which serves two purposes.  One, it avoids repetition, and two, it differentiates between two “crowds”.  One crowd is the disciples of Jesus, the other is the crowd heading into Jerusalem.  The Pharisees are from the second group.  So now I ask, were the Pharisees from the first crowd, and now have decided to distance themselves from the disciples?

I don’t think so.  I think, because of how their plea with Jesus is worded, that they simply are going along at the same time, and are alarmed at the clearly “messianic” (i.e. royal) quality of the disciples singing.  They’re concerned it may cause a riot or worse during the festival.  But I think there may have also been other Pharisees who have traveled with Jesus, who may have also been among those praising God as they entered Jerusalem.  Maybe.  It’s hard to say because I don’t know if they had “jackets” or something designating them as Pharisees.  Or whether they had the freedom to simply drop everything and follow Jesus all over.  I simply don’t know.  It didn’t slow Peter and others down, so maybe it didn’t slow them down either.  But Luke doesn’t say.

The point I’m making here is that incidental crowds versus those crowds of followers/disciples have different perspectives.  They’re both crowds, but not gathered for the same purpose.  This gets at “popularity”, being “politically correct”, and wanting to avoid offending people.  The good news of salvation through Jesus Christ is offensive.  But not to the crowd following Him.  It’s offensive to the incidental crowd who happens to coexisting with the crowd following Him.  I think sometimes we may be trying to please the wrong crowd.  Remember that the aroma of the gospel is life to us and death to them (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

I get that we can be offensive within the body  of our Master.  This happens all the time.  And at times people are simply loveless, acting out of their hurt and anger instead of the love they have been shown.  I get that, and I confess, have done that.  But this isn’t the only time people are offended.  There are also some who are offended out of selfishness, self-centered sense of entitlement, and/or pride.  Love is said to “cover all things”.  It’s a strange quality in 1 Corinthians 13:7 usually translated as “endures” or “bears”.  However it’s translated I believe it relates to the quality of love mentioned earlier of not accounting wrongs.  I think true mature followers of Jesus don’t become offended, but they can be considered offensive to others.

There are two crowds juxtaposed with Jesus and His followers.  We choose the crowd with whom we flow. And either crowd can distract us from our Master, Jesus.  The challenge is to be followers of Jesus, not of either crowd.  Together, we will then form a crowd unified by One.  Let the other crowd ask us to pipe down, tell us to take it somewhere else, and quit being so offensive.  It’s fine to ask, but we are to obey our Master.  It would be really embarrassing to have the rocks cry out in the praise we fail to give because we fear the wrong master.

Anyway, that’s my view through this knothole this morning.  What do you see through the fence in your knothole?

Passion Week IV

When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. (Luke 19:29-30 NASB)

I suppose I could subtitle this “The Three Conditions of Holiness”, but I resisted.  It’s just that as I read and thought, something from the wording struck me as interesting.  The meaning of holiness is pretty much assumed in Scripture which makes it a problem for us today.  We have to surmise what they meant then by the term.  It’s not impossible, but it does do some really interesting things with the idea.

Holiness has come to mean something today which is often very different than what it meant to those in the First Century and before.  This can be seen when it’s pointed out that the word is actually Greek and was therefore used to refer to pagan worship and work as well.  Suddenly the meaning for many is destroyed since they tie it so closely to Jesus, Father, and Spirit.

I’ve covered that before…probably several times, and used the tag to make them easy to find.  What I’d like to point out here is the “holiness state” of the donkey/colt. I believe it demonstrates the various (I think 3) states of holiness in which things can exist.

The first state is neither common nor holy, so I called it “purposeless”, but that’s a really bad label.  It’s the state of something which has been “made” but not used.  It may have an intent of its maker/Maker, but that intent hasn’t been made actual yet.  Perhaps this is where some get the concept of “age of accountability” or something.  I’m not sure. But in this state something isn’t profane or common, and therefore is not “unholy”.  On the other hand it isn’t holy either, so it isn’t automatically restricted from common use.

The colt was in this state.  Jesus instructed His disciples to go put it into use on His behalf, therefore making it holy.  It’s at this point I realized that there is some sort of qualitative difference between “sanctified” and holy without sanctification.  What I mean is that the quality of something (or someone) who goes from “purposeless” to holy is a better quality of holiness than something which needs sanctification (common to holy).  So Jesus seeks a colt which will go from “purposeless” to holy, not a donkey which will need sanctification.

Things can go from holy to profane, or profane to holy, but never back to “purposeless”.  The only way to truly prevent conversion from holy to profane is destruction of the item/person.  This idea lies behind the breaking of a glass so that it will never be used for a “lower” purpose than holding drink for the last person who used it (i.e.at some weddings, ancient nobility, etc.).  Yet profane/common things can be sanctified into a holy state.  And holy things used for common purposes become common/profane.

Examples of people who have gone straight into a holy state might be John the Baptist and Samuel.  There may have been others, but those examples stick out in my mind.  The qualitative difference between these and others who weren’t so sanctified from birth is interesting.  Yet keep in mind that two characters from the entire gallery of faithful people means that this quality in people isn’t the critical quality.  Look at Sampson.  In and then out of holiness, and then back in just in time to die.  Yet he was set aside for holiness at birth.

My point is that holiness is something which can be transitive, but also has degrees of quality.  So it is in my life.  I’m supposed to sanctify by my presence, like Jesus did with His.  I have His Spirit within, so where I go and whatever I do is supposed to be made holy simply by my going and doing.  This means travel, work, even recreation; all is supposed to be sanctified by my participation.  But I don’t necessarily see it that way. I see these things as mine and therefore common.  Yet my Master sees them as holy, and urges me to see them that way as well.

It’s a lesson I learn, forget, relearn, forget, relearn, ignore, and so on.  I cycle through it because it’s hard to sustain.  Part of it is my ability/heart, and part of it is my Master in me working to sanctify me.  My intent though often derails His work in me.  He patiently waits for me to get back at it.  The process and final end is more important than the immediate issues I face.  I forget that too.  Trudge.  It’s the verb of recovering sobriety.  Often sanctification is exactly that, trudging along.

That’s my view through the fence.  What do you see through your knothole?

Passion Week III

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”  And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said.  (Luke 19:45-48 NASB)

As Jesus enters Jerusalem, then the Temple, He then begins tossing out the religious commerce.  There’s a lot of speculation as to why, but the quote Jesus uses implies they made prayer difficult.  And as Jesus remained and taught, “the people were hanging on every word He said.”  And it literally says that, using that colloquial phrase.  It is apparently not unique to English.

Jesus takes the time to stop the behavior in the Temple that was actually disruptive to its purpose.  I wonder if others had thought about that.  The reason it probably had not happened before is likely tied to the reason the “chief priests, scribes, and leading men among the people” chose not to “destroy” Him.  They were afraid of the people “hanging on every word He said.”  There’s a lot of things for which that becomes underlying reason they either happen or don’t; popularity.

Jesus enters the Temple and does what others are afraid to do.  In a sense, anyone else would have to “live with the consequences”.  He knew He didn’t have long to live in any case.  On the other hand, Jesus did things regardless of their popularity with the people as well (see John 6 for instance).  He would have done the same had His death not been immanent (see John 2:14-22).  For Jesus, the obedience to His Father superseded popularity, and popularity with anyone.

What would it take for me to not let “living with the consequences” slow down my obedience to my Master?  What would it take for the question, “what would others think” not impede my devotion to my Master?  What would it take for me to be “thoughtless” about anyone but Jesus.  Love is not “rude”, but it does believe all things, including that a Good God will lead me to act in the best interest of all.  Just like I don’t get the plan He has for my life, I don’t get the plan He has for my church, my community, nor my state, nation, or world.  I know He wants to save, but His plan to do so is often baffling.

His enemies “could not find something they might do.”  Such a strange problem.  “For all the people were hanging on every word He said.”  They couldn’t find something to use to destroy Jesus because of the response of the people.  I read that and it baffles me.  How could they not find something?  He taught what they did not, contradicted their emphasis and interpretation of Scripture.  Or did He?  If their motivation was purely political, national in scope, then wouldn’t the attention of the people been confirmation of their need to destroy Him?  But if their motivation was theological, then His teaching would incite them easily.  And yet in both possible motivations, they could find nothing to do.

Clearly the problem with finding something to do is His popularity.  But perhaps what they risked is their own position with the people.  It’s not clear really.  It is theorized that the religious elite (Sadducees) risked their social/political authority unless stability with the Roman government was maintained.  That required peace among the people.  Pharisees weren’t motivated the same way, since they were typically neither rich nor powerful politically.  The groups opposing Jesus are listed as “chief priests” (i.e. religious elite), “scribes” (Pharisees or like them), “leading men among the people” (political leaders?).  For these groups, the motivation to oppose Jesus was probably different, and they had just the “object” in common.

What opposition do we, as His people, face today?  What will I face?  The truth of Jesus as Lord and Master of everything should supersede everything else in my life.  Yet I let all sorts of things impede my devotion.  But I have this enormous hope from this passage.  My Master will drive out those distractions at times.  His desire for me is unimaginably more than mine for Him.  His power to save actually exists, where mine does not.  His intent is for me to be His and His alone, and my intent is often blown hither and yon by the winds of popularity.  Therefore my hope is in Him, and not myself.  I wait eagerly for Him to throw out those doing business where there should be prayer.

That’s my view through the knothole?  What do you learn of our Master through yours?

Passion Week II

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.  For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44 NASB)

Why would God hide “the things that would make for peace” from His own people, from the ones living in the city where His name dwells?  She did not recognize the day of her “visitation”.  Essentially, Jerusalem didn’t recognize Jesus.  But in what way?  They’re partying now, with Passover and tons of pilgrims everywhere, and now Jesus coming, it’s on.  And yet there was something that was missed; a massive “oversight”.

Only Luke has this prediction with specifics of the demise of Jerusalem.  “Scholars” are often quick to point out that this indicates that Luke was written late (after the destruction of Jerusalem). But this can’t be proof, as a record of Jesus’ words would have been in existence before the destruction.  The whole “let the reader understand” comment in Matthew and Mark doesn’t seem to indicate that, and yet stems from the same sort of prediction.  At least that’s how the church in Jerusalem took it, and disappeared once the Romans broke through into the Temple.

Yet Jesus is specific about both the way Jerusalem falls, and the reason.  She fails to recognize Jesus; specifically, who He is has been hidden from her.  In other contexts it’s clear that God Himself hides this sort of information.  But here it could be the culture or religious leaders, or political climate, or any number of things not mentioned.  In any case, Luke still points out she’s been “duped”, something was hidden from her, she’s a victim; of sorts.

Jesus refers to what was missed in two ways.  First He refers to “the things toward peace” in verse 42.  But then in verse 44 He says, “against which you did not know the opportune time of your oversight.”  That last word is the Greek word from which we get “episcopal”, yet it is nearly universally translated as “visitation” here.  So how does “overseer” or “bishop” get translated as “visitation”, and everyone’s okay with this?  The two aren’t even related…are they?

Back in the day, when the church I was pastoring was clamoring about me not “visiting” enough, I did a word study on church leadership.  I was fine until I included the Hebrew Scriptures in my study.  At that point, my argument that “visiting” was their job not mine fell to pieces.  In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word for the office and practice of those in religious leadership was a very familiar word to me.  It sounded like pa-KAD, but it meant “to visit”.  It was used in Hebrew class to teach both the declension of nouns and the parsing of verbs because it had both forms.

It was disturbing for me because it has such an enormous range of meaning.  It refers to the “visitation of God” which should terrify His people.  And it also refers to the exercising of leadership (specifically in a religious or prophetic office) over His people.  It wasn’t always a positive thing, it more often tied to “judgement” than consolation.  On the other hand it was also often tied to consolation.  So, both things were a part of why it was used to refer to the activity and title of the leadership office.

When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek, in cases where “to visit” was related to the leadership office, it was translated as “episcopal” in Greek, even when it was a verb.  So, we have this very consistent extension of meaning for the word from Hebrew usage and tradition.  It is an extension because typical Greek usage saw it as a leadership office and wouldn’t tie it to a “visit” necessarily.

Okay, as my wife will say so often, “so what?”  Well, here it is: Jesus’ visitation wasn’t just to die on the cross.  There existed the possibility that the nation of Israel could have rallied around Him, recognizing Him as the Messiah they had been looking for.  I believe that, in that case, Jesus would have still died on the cross, just not out of the betrayal of His people.  There existed the possibility of the redemption of Israel right there at that Passover feast.

This is not a “slam” on the Jews, then or now.  It’s a lesson I must learn.  What am I in danger of missing for some of the same reasons they did?  What distracts me today that perhaps distracted them then?  What am I in danger of missing from God?  Is He “visiting” me and I’m missing His presence?  This is the question that brings me to my knees, and leads me deeper into my Master’s presence.  This is where He has more of me and I have less of me.  If I focus on them and refuse to learn from them, then I have let pride and arrogance cloud my vision, and the things toward peace are hidden from me.

That is my view through the fence.  What does your knothole reveal to you?

Passion Week I

As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  (Luke 19:37-38 NASB)

I needed to start this series somewhere, and opted to skip the colt and focus on the ride.  Jesus rides into Jerusalem.  And along the way, Luke records cloaks (not palms) in the path.  In Luke this a royal procession more than triumphal.  Immediately following the parable about the king receiving a kingdom is this event.  For Luke (and therefore his audience) there is a direct link between the two.

And yet there’s another link.  See what the disciples (the crowd of them) say?  It sounds a bit like angels singing above shepherds so many chapters ago.  So, Luke connects the beginning with the beginning of the end.  Just in case we had forgotten how we got here, he uses a brief reminder.  The King is coming into His own.

In Luke, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is much more than a pilgrimage.  The palms and hosannas of the other pilgrims are here replaced by royal references and cloaks in the path.  If you consider the setting, this had to ignite excitement and confusion among the visitors to Jerusalem.  It was already becoming an unusual Passover.

The King comes to Jerusalem, the Davidic King, the Messianic King, the King of Righteousness (Malchizadek), and the Eternal King.  The Davidic King has been absent for over 400 years, but the King of Righteousness since the days of Abraham.  Jerusalem is unexpectedly hosting the Priest-King she knew in her youth, when her name was just Salem.  The peace she was named for was about to ride through her gates.

The history of God-Most-High leading and guiding His people was coming around to the cross-over; where a circle becomes the symbol of infinity.  So much meaning, symbolism, and change was coming together in this one city.

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”  The King comes.  Actually, the King returns.  He remembers Salem before Abraham ever arrived in Canaan.  He’s coming home in ways no one around Him imagines.  And home has changed.  It’s no longer a single hill, but three.  The shrine has become a massive temple complex.  And the throngs of pilgrims far out number the original inhabitants.  So much has changed since those days.  And yet, in those days when the sin of the Amorite had not yet reached its fill, so much seemed very similar to what He saw.

By the time Joshua reaches the Promised Land, Salem’s king is no longer the priest.  By the time David takes the city, there seems to be no king at all, just a priest named Zadok, “righteousness”.  The king of righteousness is just the priest named righteousness, and David enters the messianic role of king.  The two roles become separated.  Righteousness has become divorced from politics and war.  And as Jesus rides into town, the two streams merge once again.  The King of Righteousness has returned.

Will I bow before the King and worship before the Priest?  Will you?  Will we offer our heads to the King?  Will we offer our goods and lives to the Priest?  He comes to us, but will we receive Him?  He came to Bethlehem and no one knew.  He comes to Jerusalem, and no one understands.  He comes to us today, but what will we do?

I am Matthew Scott Brumage, son of Lloyd, Knight of the Realm, Servant of the King.  He has revealed that He loves me, He has my back, and I am at His service.  He has called me to wait, worship, and walk before Him.  That is who I am because that is who He declared me to be.  Who are you?

So You Want To See Jesus…

“He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow?  Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’ Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’  And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’  ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.  But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (Luke 19:22-27 NASB)

Why is it that we seem to forget the Bible, the whole Bible, prophets and all?  Why we do we find it so easy to create this cardboard version of Jesus who is so two dimensional? Why do we forget that He came to fulfill the law not abolish it?  Why is it so easy to forget that He came to divide not unify humanity?  The truth of Scripture is that Jesus is God, not a god, not some new god, and certainly not “God Transformed”.  He is God!

God, the One putting up with Israel’s wayward ways for 400 years while He sends prophets, is the One wiping them out with the pagan empire of Assyria.  And then, a hundred years later, Judah goes down by the pagan Babylonians.  Flash forward 400 more years, and Jesus becomes the same One pronouncing woes of judgement on Galilean cities and Jerusalem itself.  It’s as if the judgement of old was returning again, this time at His say so.

And then we have this parable.  Luke seems to intertwine a parable of a king, possibly using the ascension of Herod’s son Archaleus, with the parable of slaves use of money.  The point of the slaves with money is being enterprising with the resources God provides us until He returns.  The point of the king ascending a throne is opposing him does not go unpunished.

If Jesus is the king and master of the servants, then this picture of Jesus ought to make us uneasy.  Then we are to be responsible with what has been entrusted to us while He is away, making more of what was given.  Being industrious is rewarded, not doing anything with it is punished.  We have to agree to be ruled, to submit to the reign of Jesus over us.  That means agree to who He is not who we imagine Him to be.

And this isn’t meant to take away the love Jesus has for us.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus any more before His throne than it can now, or could before He ministered in person.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  But that doesn’t then change the personality of God into something other than what we read elsewhere in Scripture.  It’s both.  And that’s probably where we fail most often to our greatest detriment.

God did not have a personality break between the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  He didn’t switch from wrath and anger to mercy and love.  He has always been all of that and more.  There has always been vast oceans of grace in the Hebrew Scriptures.  There has always been wrath in the Christian Scriptures.  So our challenge is read both and let God define for Himself who He is and how He will relate to us.  It’s tough, and it should be frightening to us.  But then again, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom after all.

So, what do you see through your knothole this morning?  I hope I didn’t bring you down, but I do hope I sobered you up!  You may need sobering after last night…but that’s fodder for another post.

Shift Your Paradigm For the Kingdom Is Near!

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NASB)

I’m ecstatic that I recently purchased a set of books, a 10 volume theological dictionary just of the New Testament.  And of course I want to pursue a current study trend of mine, repentance.  The dictionary begins with the difference between repentance and remorse.  But then spends page after page on repentance, both in the Old Testament and in the New.  I’m loving this.  But I’m also challenged by what I find.

Back in school I began the pursuit of a theory that all of Scripture was God helping His human creatures understand the definition of death.  I believed that He was doing this so we could choose between life and death.  Therefore, all of the Hebrew Scriptures would have this theme, and all of the Christian Scriptures would have this theme.  See, we do dumb stuff when we’re young, we all do.

My attempt at simplification of Scripture has fallen on deaf ears and hard times.  Much of Scripture simply refuses to conform to this theory.  Undeterred, I press on in my study of Scripture with this theory in the back of my mind.  I have found that life and death mean something different for God than they do for His human creatures.  We think of it in biological terms (brain activity, respiration, growth, etc.).  I believe God thinks of life and death in purely relational terms.  So for us it’s only accidentally biological.  The cessation of those biological functions signals the end of a set of relationships.

Anyway, regardless of whether I’m right or wrong, I find that this theory encroaches on my other studies, like repentance.  In a sense, I’m beginning to see repentance as that process in our lives that reverses the decisions and repercussions made in the Garden of Eden.  Repentance is becoming for me the choosing of the other tree.

In Deuteronomy 30, Moses is setting before the people a ceremony they are to conduct once they enter the land.  The people are to stand on two mountains, write the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy on stones, and shout across the valley to each other reciting them.  As Moses wraps up his instructions, he finishes with the words, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and the curse.”

In the typical Hebrew “parallel” literary construction, blessing = life and curse = death.  Not hard to understand at all.  But then we read further.  Life is further defined as 1) loving God, 2) obeying God, and 3) holding fast to God.  In other words, life is relational.  And specifically, life is relationship with God.  To be in relationship with God is being alive, and not being in relationship with God is being dead.  Which means many people are biologically alive, but actually dead.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds vaguely Christian to me (Ephesians 2:1-10).

So, the idea of repentance, this change of mind to agree with God, now becomes a reversal of that condition lost in the Garden.  In the process of “being transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2), we live.  The process is the choice of life, to love God, to obey Him, to holding fast to Him (faithfulness).  How do we choose?  In the choice of relationships, we choose our Master over everyone else.  In the choice of time we choose to spend it with Him.  In the choice of words, we choose to speak His words.

Our world view will become the world view of its Creator.  Our “paradigm” will shift to align with His “paradigm”.  It’s not adaptation, it’s realignment.  It’s a return to the directions and definitions of where we started.  Repentance is a return, but not a 180 turn in behavior.  Repentance is a return to the life we were intended to live, and that results in a change in behavior.  But it begins in the processes of the mind and the intent of the heart.  As Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem, and therefore the cross, we are to set our faces toward His throne, and therefore His face.

That was a meandering romp through theological thought.  What’s your view through your knothole?  Life and death, your thoughts?