Friday, August 30, 2013

BFF 8/30/2013 (rp)

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15 (NIV)

During study, I ran across this scripture. It reminded me so much of my childhood. More specifically, it reminded me of bible school and the songs we used to sing. "What A Friend We Have in Jesus," along with "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "If You're Happy and You Know It" were ingrained in us at a very early age. Admittedly, it was a vague concept back then. Now it is in much sharper view.

Think about the concept of friendship. What types of things are typically associated with it?  Surely we must be able to trust, rely upon, confide in and share vulnerabilities with our friends. We enjoy sharing time, triumphs and tragedies with them. If we have a felt need, our friends are typically the first people to whom we go.

Now think of what it must be like to have a friend in Jesus...from Jesus' point of view. He is the creator of all that exists. He willingly took on human flesh and came to dwell with those who would ultimately reject him and play a role in taking his life. It was worth it to him to do so due to his unsurpassed love for us. Whereas we were once slaves to sin and Satan, he redeemed us with his own blood and made us free. Now rather than being slaves, he has accepted us as friends. He who is the ultimate Power, Love and Creator is a close, warm and personal friend.  He has invited us to become his friends.

Beloved, our relationship with Jesus should supersede all others. When we think about how we treat and feel about our BFFs (Best Friends Forever), we must think about who our true forever best friend is, what he has done for us and how he made forever possible. Those thoughts should have an impact on everything we think, say and do. We show our friendship to him by obeying his commands. He showed his for us through his ultimate sacrifice. He said, "No man has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13.  Indeed, what a friend we have in Jesus.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beautiful Reconciliation 8/28/2013

"And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—" Colossians 1:21-22

Have you ever gotten into a fight with someone dear and realized you were the one in the wrong? Do you remember how awful it felt to be in that state and to have hurt the feelings of the other person? And do you remember how bad you wanted to make up?

Beloved, this is the state we all were in before Christ. We were in utter darkness and far removed from the glorious light of the Father. As Paul put it, "remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world," Ephesians 2:12. We were lost and we did not understand how lost we were. We were in need of a savior and did not know that there was one available. But somehow we did know that we were out of position, unfulfilled and missing something. This is true because when we came into contact with him, we recognized the truth of our condition, his ability to relieve it and his overwhelming love for us. We responded by accepting him and have now been made whole. Paul describes it this way: "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ," Ephesians 2:13.

Through Jesus, we have been reconciled to the Father. We are no longer fighting in the darkness while longing for the light. The originally intended relationship has been restored between those who have accepted the free gift of God's grace and the great Lover of our souls. He is to be praised.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Persistence in Prayer 8/27/2013 (rp)

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:13

Every parent wants to give their child the world. Some do it by lavishing the best they are able to provide on their young ones. Others do it by teaching hard work, relating that nothing comes easy but equipping them to be able to acquire things for themselves. There are virtually none of us who do not want our children to have it better than we did growing up.

The interesting thing about that statement is that not many of us had it bad at all. This was because our parents wanted us to have it better than they did and so it continues.

Beloved our kids do not have to ask for most of the things we provide. If they ask persistently, we are likely to relent even if we are not necessarily predisposed to give them that thing. This is analogous to our relationship with our heavenly Father. He lavishly gives so much and so constantly, we take Him and his blessings for granted yet we still take our wants and needs to Him. Let us lift our minds from the material to things such as mates, recovery of health, answers to inquiries, solutions to problems, relationships and so on. These are things that are important to us. God invites us to bring these prayers and supplications to Him.

Jesus said we should always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1). He also rhetorically asks, "Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you he will see that they get justice, and quickly" Luke 18:7-8. Not only does persistence pay, it is authorized and encouraged.



Monday, August 26, 2013

The Price Paid for Sin 8/26/2013

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2

Though things like cancer, war, famine and socio-economic injustice may be thought of as such, it is actually sin that is the scourge of humanity. Even a casual reading of the Genesis account before the Fall shows how idyllic life was designed by God to be. It was not until sin was introduced that the problems of man and the distance in his relationship with God began. Unfortunately, what began then persists to this day.

God, however, is to be praised for His unsurpassed love for all of us. Though it was we who condemned ourselves, it was He that made a way for reconciliation. Most are familiar with the fact that God loves us so much that He gave his only son (John 3:16), but we may not be clear about some of the mechanics of this dazzling fact. Jesus, having taken on flesh, taught the good news, healed, fed and ultimately sacrificed his life, is now at the right hand of the Father. From this position, he, as the greatest defense attorney ever known, argues our case against the accusations of the great prosecutor, Satan, before the judgment seat of God. What equips and qualifies him to do so is that he, as our sinless propitiation (atoning sacrifice) has already been convicted and served the deserved sentence of death due to sin in our place!

Beloved, what an amazing Father we serve. Because we know the sin error that was made in the Garden, we should endeavor to not make the same mistake. Because we see sin and its effects all around us, we should strive to be as sinless as possible. Because we are aware of the great love God has for us, we should do all we can to live lives that are pleasing to Him. When we have a momentary lapse or unknowingly commit a trespass against the Father, it is good to know that our Savior has already paid the price. Should we then go on sinning because we have an "out?" God forbid! We should strive all the more for righteousness because of the great love that was displayed and the price paid so dear.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Follow Me 8/23/2013

"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philipians 4:9

In today's social media driven world, one of the things by which people are known and sometimes evaluated is by how many followers they have. Whether it is the number of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, it says something about your fame and popularity (or lack thereof). For this reason, we are constantly invited to "friend," "like," or "follow" individuals, companies and institutions. The question, however, is why?

When you follow your favorite athlete, singer or actor, what is the benefit? You may be among the first to know about their next event. You may be a part of the "in crowd" that learns what happens to them before the news media blasts it all over the world. Mostly what you will get are their opinions (qualified or not) about other people and their circumstances. It is virtually an every day occurrence that someone is forced to apologize for something they said about someone else our of anger, retribution, jealousy or influence of substances via social media because so many are following them.

Beloved, the apostle Paul made an audacious yet qualified "follow" request 2000 years before it was the mainstream thing to do. He was able to do this for three very important reasons. First, he was personally commissioned by the Lord to do it (Acts 9:15). Second, the example he offered was one designed to benefit the follower (Galatians 2:20). And finally, the destination of the follow-ship he requested was not himself, but Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Let us be mindful of who we follow, why we follow them and most importantly, where we are allowing ourselves to be led. Jesus once famously said, "If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit" Matthew 15:14b.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Being Like Jesus 8/21/2013

"A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher." Luke 6:40

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said to his apostles, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The very definition of the word disciple is one who believes and helps to spread the doctrine or teaching of another. This said, it would seem to imply that Jesus is instructing those in his inner circle (and by extension, us) to teach others about him, baptize them into him (Galatians 3:27) and continue to teach. Our instruction in the Lord is therefore foundational, continual and required to achieve the highest ideal of being like him.

Beloved we are often fascinated by the exploits of people who can do the things that we cannot. Athletes, famous musicians, singers and dancers, and in my case, people who perform as part of the amazing Cirque du Soleil seem to have abilities that are unobtainable by "normal" people. The fact is that they are "normal" people but have had teaching and training from a very early age. This comparison is made to indicate that it is possible to live holy lives full of joy and spirit in the Lord if we would avail ourselves of his teaching and discipline ourselves to follow it. It is entirely possible for us to go from the bumps, bruises, trips and falls of early Christian adolescence to the dexterity and agility of Christian maturity if we would adhere to the Word.

A church member once said to his pastor, who also happened to be a Bible scholar and had memorized vast portions of the word, "I would give my life to know the Bible as well as you do." The pastor replied, "That's what I did." The path to being like our Lord is paved with his teaching but we must be propelled by our own desire to pursue him.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Keeping the Fire Burning 8/20/2013 (rp)

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11 (NIV)

It is a natural thing for the fire in some relationships to cool. This is not to say that the relationship is destroyed or becomes any less important but that the intensity and enthusiasm can either wane or become transformed to something more comfortable. Think about romantic relationships. In the beginning, we are given to writing poetry, dedicating songs, remaining on the phone (or text) all hours of the day and night and that person is almost all that is on our minds. We present ourselves in the best possible light by carefully and purposefully choosing our attire, hair style, make-up (in the case of the ladies) and scent. Emotions run high and feelings soar.

Let us fast forward 5 years, 7 years, 10 years, then 20. How much poetry has been written lately? How purposeful are we in our dress now? It is not to say that the love is no longer there but the urgency once known seems to have faded over time.

Beloved, our zeal for the Lord should never suffer this fate. As much good as he had to say about the church at Ephesus, the Lord said to them, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first." Revelation 3:4-5a. We must remember that the Lord's fervent love for us never fades and never diminishes. Despite our many shortcomings, the Spirit has said that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 8:39. For this reason, for the very love of him, we must constantly feed and re-stoke the fire of love and adoration that burned within us when we first met him and when we gave ourselves to him. Never let it be said that we have forsaken our first love.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Dealing With Despair Caused by Others 8/19/2013

"Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.' He named the second Ephraim, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.'” Gen 41:51-52

It is difficult to think of Joseph without thinking of both tragedy and triumph. From a very early age, he was hated by his brothers. Those same brothers thought to kill him but instead sold him into slavery, thus removing him from every one and everything he knew and loved. While in slavery he was falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison. From there he was forgotten by someone whom he helped. But we also know that God was with him through it all and that ultimately, he was given a position of power and privilege whereby he was able to preserve the lives of many through a crippling famine, including the same family that did grievous harm to him.

Beloved, it is tragically unfortunate when we become devastated by others. This is multiplied exponentially when the wrong done to us is at the hands of close friends, loved ones and especially, family. Sadly, none of us are immune to the possibility of very hurtful and harmful things happening to us through the agency of those with whom we are the most familiar. But if there is anything we can learn from the experiences of Joseph is that as children of God, we are never alone. Through the worst of our trials, our Heavenly Father is right there.

Some may ask why He would allow us to endure such pain. Far be it from me to provide THE answer for such a question. We know that God's ways and thoughts are much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). But in the case of Joseph, God was not only sustaining him through these unearned difficulties, He was using them to prepare Joseph for a great work that would preserve the people of God from which we today are spiritually descended. Further, Joseph did not know the end of the story while he was in the middle of it. It may be that he was filled with despair at times, but over and over he gives God the glory and never seems to lose his faith.

Pain surely hurts. It is not unusual to want to throw up your hands and just give up. But I beseech you beloved, that when the night falls, that is the time to hold even more closely to God. He has already written the end of your story, so remain faithful that He will deliver you, learn all you can from the situation you are in, and when the opportunity presents itself to do some good because of it, take it with all of your energy, even if those who hurt you benefit. Consider the words and actions of Joseph on the other side of his suffering: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones. So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them," Genesis 50:20-21.



Friday, August 16, 2013

Seeking Wisdom 8/16/2013

"Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge;
For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
That they may be ready on your lips."
Proverbs 22:17-18

Think about all of the many influences on our thinking and how we interact with the world. We are constantly inundated by songs on the radio (or from our music collection), the opinions of pundits on the news, television shows, movies and across the back fence chat. Think harder about how much of that we seek and why we do so.

The book of Proverbs is primarily a collection of wise sayings written by Solomon to his son. In it, he both advises that he avail himself of the godly wisdom he shares and then conduct himself according to it. This is still great advice for us today. It was Jesus who said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” Matthew 4:4. This elevates the Word of God from interesting information to that which is necessary for life.

Beloved, it is important that we are aware of what goes on around us. It is ok to seek entertainment and participate in community activities. It is necessary that we communicate with each other and with our neighbors. The advice today, however, is that we make seeking the wisdom of God a priority in our lives. And we need to know that it is available just for the asking (James 1:5). If we would seek out wisdom and apply it, not only will our lives be enriched but we will then be in a position to pass it along to others who may be in need of it.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A House Not Made With Hands 8/14/2013

"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven," 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

It was God who instructed Moses to build a Tabernacle (or tent) which was to be His dwelling place among men. The instructions were very exact and included specifics regarding measurements, materials, design and contents. Naturally, the Tabernacle would suffer wear and tear due to movement and the natural deterioration of materials. Ultimately it was superseded by a lavish brick and mortar building with inner walls of gold. It was quite glorious to see. Even this, however, was merely a shadow of the heavenly dwelling place of God (Hebrews 8:5; 9:24).

Beloved, as God once established a dwelling place among men that was made by human hands, He now makes his dwelling place within our bodies. The apostle Paul rhetorically asked, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" 1 Corinthians 6:19. Being made with hands, though, it will eventually go the way of the old Tabernacle. Otherwise put, all of our physical bodies will one day die. The good news for Christians, however, is that as God occupies a permanent dwelling in heaven, so too shall our essential selves receive a new and permanent dwelling place; it will be a new body NOT made through the efforts of human flesh, but given to each of us by the very hand of our eternal Father.

It is natural for human beings to deteriorate bodily and to fear death. To this Paul said, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day" 2 Corinthians 4:16. He expressed both hope and joy when he said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain," Philippians 1:21. Lastly, he revealed that it is a necessary part of the plan to obtain an eternity with the Father when he said, "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" 1 Corinthians 15:50.

Let us now enjoy the life we have been given and do the work that has been set before us. Let us also look forward to the life to come and the new bodies that will allow us to experience eternity.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Witness II 8/13/2013

"John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” John 1:15 (NKJV)

Yesterday we discussed the power of witness. We approached it from the standpoint of how we today can accept and believe the reality of Christ. Accepting and believing, however, is short of the full intent of witness for us.

In Jesus day, particularly at his prosecution by the local religious leaders, many false witnesses were sought and obtained to testify against him. There was a strong desire to discredit him, defame him and ultimately, end his life. After all, he claimed to be the very son of God, even God in the flesh which was considered blasphemy by the religious elite. One wonders what their religion was all about if they rejected the prophesied Messiah. Nevertheless, there were problems with their witnesses. "Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree" Mark 14:55-56. Then as now, for witness to be credible, it must be consistent and found in the mouths of more than one.

Beloved, our witness is true because it comes from those who were there. Further, we can testify to the truth of our own experiences with the Lord. We are then called upon by him to share our witness with the world. What he told the apostles remains true for us today: "...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8. We know that the false witnesses gathered by the Adversary are still active. Let us combat falsehood with truth. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" Psalm 107:2.



Monday, August 12, 2013

The Power of Witness

"-what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:3

Against the charges of Christ merely apprearing to be a man by a group called the Docetists, John offers the proof of witness to refute their falsehood. He offers, both in the Gospel of John as well as 1 John, the fact that he had heard, seen, watched attentively and touched the very Son of God and that he was not the only one to do so.

Then as now, matters are settled on the testimony of witnesses. It should be understood that there was a high threshold in official matters. Matthew 18:16 reveals that an acceptable burden of proof is established in the mouths of two or three witness. The humanity and diety of Christ was proven through the witness by God, the Holy Spirit and John the Baptist at his baptism, by Jesus himself and by the more than 500 to whom he appeared after his ressurection.

Beloved, today we do not have the pleasure or privilege of experiencing the physical Jesus as those did who lived 2000 years ago but we believe by faith. That faith was made possible through the mouths of those who did experience him. This should not be as foreign a concept as some would make it out to be. The same individuals who will not accept Christ because they cannot see or touch him today will accept as fact the words of witnesses in legal, legislative, news and even gossip matters. They should know that they are not the first to take this position. The apostle Thomas refused to accept the witness of his peers and brothers in the faith, declaring that he would have to see for himself. As it would happen, Jesus showed up and said to Thomas, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believe” John 20:29. Those same witnesses and the Lord himself have said that he will one day likewise appear to us all.




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Role Model 8/7/2013 (rp)

"The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked." 1 John 2:6

Over the past couple of days I have been having a friendly conversation with an acquaintance about role models. He tends to give me a hard time about two of my favorite sports teams (the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Cowboys) and I do the same to him about the Lakers and the Rams. Recently one of the Cowboys was accused of an egregious act of violence against his own mother, to which my buddy offered, "That's some role model you've got there."

This put me in mind of all of the people to whom we look up. Athletes, entertainers, titans in business and other individuals of wealth, power, prestige and notoriety tend to grab and hold our attention prompting many of us to pursue their particular path. Why? Is it our desire to achieve what they have gained? What about the ways they made those gains?  Perhaps you have heard of the very famous television contest (and its many clones and derivatives) that are designed to give talented individuals the opportunity to become  role models as many of their own role models have done. A person can literally become an American idol.  Having followed others are we that anxious to attract followers of our own?

Beloved, I tend to agree with the stance Charles Barkley took in a well crafted 2007 advertising campaign. He, as an athlete said, "I am not a role model." He goes on to say, "Because I can dunk a basketball does not mean I should raise your kids." While there are those in all walks of life who display admirable traits and accomplish laudable deeds, every human being is flawed and fallible. The one person who ever lived that is worthy of the ultimate role model status and label for EVERYONE is Jesus. And what is it to have a role model but to follow in his footsteps? If you are a Christian, by definition Jesus is your role model. And if he is your role model, you ought to, to the very best of your ability, do what he did.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Listen For the Cross Examination 8/6/2013

"In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines." Proverbs 18:17 (NIV)

Imagine the conversation between Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. He was clearly very skilled in making the argument that the things God told her could be otherwise interpreted. In fact, he told her that she would "not surely die" if she partook of the forbidden fruit. One of the things that made his words so effective at introducing doubt was her own desire. We are told that the fruit appealed to Eve's eye, looked delicious for eating and according to the Serpent, had the additional benefit of giving her at least one attribute of God. She therefore ate and introduced disastrous consequences that all of humanity still experiences today. It is submitted for your consideration that we are predisposed to entertain assertions such as those offered by the Serpent because of our own desires. It is written that, "each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust" James 1:17.

Beloved, we ought to praise God for the advocate He has given us in Jesus (1 John 2:1). We can think of him not just as a lawyer who argues our case before God against the accusations of Satan, but one who has also already served our sentence and paid our debt, thereby releasing us from condemnation. You see Satan tried the same thing with Jesus that he did with Eve, however, he completely and utterly failed when the Lord refused him and answered him with the Word of God. He was unwilling to turn rocks into bread after a 40 day fast because it is the Word that sustains. He refused to throw himself toward the ground from dizzying heights to prove God would save him because he was unwilling to put God to the test. And he refused to accept the keys to the world from Satan for the "small" price of bowing down to him because he was only willing to worship God. Jesus knew better and did better because he sought the will of God and not his own.

Today there are many alternative views of what is good, bad, right and wrong. There are many who will tell you of different ways to achieve enlightenment, receive salvation, gain "heaven" and even reincarnate. To some these things are convincing as evidenced by the tremendous number of adherents to these different philosophies. Let us, however, wait for the cross examination. There is more to know than what they say. May the Lord help us to overcome our own desires and seek His.



Monday, August 5, 2013

The Message to the Messenger 8/5/2013

“'Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.'" Ezekiel 3:17-18

Every now and then I run across a Bible passage that makes my blood run cold. Ezekiel 3:17-21 is just such an example. The prophet Ezekiel was being sent by God to the rebellious people of Israel to deliver a warning from Him. One of the reasons he was being sent was so that the people would know that a prophet, and by extension, God Himself was among them. In turn, the message he was sent to deliver was designed to warn the people to turn from their wicked ways and return to the previously established covenant relationship lest they die.

The message God gave Ezekiel to deliver was a critical one, however, before he was given a word to speak, God impressed upon him the importance of carrying out the assigned task. In short, He told his prophet that if anyone perished (due to their own iniquity) without him having delivered the assigned message, he would bear responsibility.

Beloved, the reason this passage caused a chill to run down my spine is due to the realization that we have been given the same charge and bear that same responsibility. Those of us who call upon the name of Jesus are the messengers of God. We are sent to all nations to bear witness to the love of the Lord and to deliver His message (Matthew 28:19-20). We are to fill our mouths with His word and warn the stubborn, obstinate and unrighteous about the dangers associated with pursuing their current course. We are charged with nothing less than attempting to literally save the lives of the lost. Our failure to speak up and speak out condemns to death the people we refuse to warn just as if we failed to take the keys from an inebriated person attempting to get behind the wheel of a car. It is not our fault that the person is drunk, but we would bear responsibility for refusing to intercede if that person tragically died or worse, caused the death of someone else. Chilling indeed.

Let us not view our Christian lives simply as "going to Church," attending bible studies, participating in pot luck dinners and fellowshipping with those of like faith. Let us instead act as fire marshals engaged in literal fire prevention and fire fighters engaged in literal rescue of those in danger of being lost in the fire.