“All the money in the world…”

The price of gold today, March 2, 2018 is $1,321.50 per ounce. A rough estimate of the value of all the gold and silver items in the tabernacle per google ranges from 28 million up to 50 million dollars, depending on amounts and current prices. That was some fancy tabernacle, wasn’t it?

Let’s do a recap of this week thinking about the tabernacle. God wanted a tabernacle built so he could dwell with his people and be amongst them. As their God he was leading them to a land of “milk and honey”. In other words, it was a REALLY nice, lush place to live. He was going to protect them. He was going to bless them as his people. He then gave awesome abilities to some men in the area of craftsmanship to build the tabernacle and every item to be placed inside. Exodus repeats that the items were made and God had it all recorded down to the weight of the gold used for specific items. Using the materials and talents given to the men, the tabernacle was built and God dwelt with his people during this time.

Fast forward 700 years. Israel is disintegrating morally and physically. The temple that replaced the tabernacle and had many of the tabernacle items in it, like the ark of the covenant and much gold and silver. Another Israelite, Hezekiah, king of Judah, decides to raid the temple treasuries and strip the gold. He does this to give to Sennacherib, an enemy king, hoping it “buy” his country protection from them. It didn’t.

Now in 2018, about 2,700 years later, we are reading these historical accounts. God preserved in his Word all of the details. We are given details on the measurements of poles and candlesticks, Bezalel’s talents and skills, gold used in the tabernacle and finally, details about the end of the temple. What can we learn from these details? How to use what God gives us. Bezalel used his gifts to God’s glory. The result was God’s presence and dwelling with the people and his protection. Centuries later, a sinful king misuses these very same things: the king’s life ends tragically and the “protection” he had hoped to buy with what God had given his people, never materialized. Had Hezekiah turned back to the God who gave him the gifts and had already promised protection, it would have been there all along. The misuse of the gifts ended in destruction.

As we consider the ways God has gifted us, I think there is a warning here about misuse. My God given gifts and talents, and yours, if used effectively with all our might, can bring about great gain and glory of some type. The question is, glory to whom? Gain for whom?  Bezalel used his gifts to obey God and further God’s glory amongst His people. Hezekiah tried to use his to buy security and comfort for himself. Only one of these men successfully reached their goal. As Jordan continues his work and seeks the right career path, as Miriam looks for internships, and Aaron, as you look at colleges-keep all of this in mind. Consider your gifts. Consider and pray about how God wants you to use them. Be very careful that you don’t only consider how to make the most money. Hezekiah would surely warn all of us that all the money in the world will never buy the protection, comfort and joy God offers us when we are obediently seeking His will and walking in His ways with every talent and skill that we have been given.


“Just do it!”…

Time for a slogan guessing game. Whose uses the slogan “Just Do It” in their marketing? Nike. Ok-that was too easy, but it fits. There is no question as to what is meant. It means action. No procrastination. No dilly-dallying. Just do it.

Ex. 36:1 could be very roughly translated “Just do it”. Remember good old “Bezalel” that we talked about earlier this week? He was the God-gifted craftsman. His ability and skill were spelled out as from God and for a purpose. It was not just Bezalel who got the way above average skills but others were also gifted with both skills and intelligence in the same areas. Today, Moses tells them to   “work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.” In other words, do the work.

What about the materials to do this stuff? What were they to work with? Remember yesterday all the ornamental and expensive metals given up? Not only did the people give these things up to stay out of sin, they also continued to give things as offerings to God. It just so happens that much of the tabernacle pieces and items were to be “overlaid” with gold and other fine metals and jewels. Those are now available. So, the people with the skill and intelligence are available and the materials have been provided.. It is time to get to work-and do what the Lord has commanded.

We talked about the fact that just as Bezalel was gifted in certain ways, we are too. Today, I suggest we follow in Bezalel’s footsteps and get on with “doing it”. Hopefully you have taken time to consider some ways God has gifted you this week. Look around for the “materials” God has given you and get started. Do what God has commanded and lets get to work. Let’s “build” whatever is our piece of work to his glory to build. If you don’t know what I mean, here is a simple, but clear example you may not be aware of in Gege’s life of how she follows the Nike motto to “Just do it”. Gege is gifted in the area of knitting. She has an extensive knowledge of it and due to many other projects as well as the generosity of others, she has a lot of excess yarn. She is constantly making infant hats for orphans and pregnancy centers. She also ministers to God’s glory weekly by teaching some women at GSV who do not have the skill or yarn to knit. She has been given the ability, God provided materials, and she works with those every week, using her gift to the good of others and to God’s glory. God has commanded us to look after the widows and the orphans. (James 1:27) God commands us to not forget to do good and to share with others. (Heb. 13:16). God tells us that whoever is kind to the poor (orphans, unwed mothers) lends to the Lord. (Prov. 19:17) Gege is “doing” God’s commands through her “knitting” ministry in this way as well as many others I have not mentioned.

What about you and I? Are we? Let’s just “Do It” too, if we haven’t already started. No Nike’s required. No excuses. No procrastination. Take your gifts and the materials and Just do it!


Give up that “jewelry”!

Imagine you must make a trip  to go to N. Korea. You have hired a bodyguard and know with that bodyguard, you will be 100% safe. Without the bodyguard there is a high probability you will not come out alive. Now, imagine at the last minute, the bodyguard cancels, but you still MUST go on the trip. How would you feel?

That is the closest comparison I can come to for what we read in Ex. 33, when God told his people He would not go with them. It is hard to fully understand the implications of this, but death was certainly one. God was their God and protector. They knew they needed Him and when they found out He wasn’t “coming”, they went in to mourning. As part of this mourning, they did exactly what we would do: they did not put on jewelry or “ornaments”. Wait! What? What in the world does that have to do with anything?

I could not figure this one out myself, so had to look it up. Soniclight.com proved helpful by explaining “They willingly gave up the use of and stopped wearing the “ornaments” that they had used in the rebellion, and that were therefore an offense to God.” Context is key here-this happens right after the whole Aaron-golden calf-major-sin-party incident. What is really happening here is God calls them out for their sin, and calls them stiff-necked because they keep disobeying and disregarding his laws. The people have come to a real point of repentance, realizing and being willing to give up the items that are contributing to their sin. In their case, it was ornaments or jewelry, some of which were used previously to create a false idol which they had worshiped.

God throughout this section in Exodus makes it extremely clear He will not allow
his people to worship anything but him. Here, we see, there can be items that actually contribute or “help” people (read: “us”) worship false idols. The Israelites realized worshiping God alone required them to give up some things that were leading them astray and being used for sinful purposes. For them, it was jewelry or “ornaments”. What is it for us? What are some things in our life that “aid” us in worshiping idols or consistently draw us away from God and/or towards something else? The Israelites knew that above all else, they needed God with them every step of the way.  They came to the point where they were willing to give up anything that was in the way of this protection and relationship with God. I believe we too should continually be coming to this point: examining our lives, identifying our own sin, and recognizing those items that may be influencing us to sin more. Once they are identified, get rid of them. You and I in the end, just like the Israelites, do not want anything to stand in the way of God being with us, do we? Then get rid of your jewelry, or whatever it is for you and me that is causing us to be “stiff-necked” towards God. There will always be “deathly” consequences if we don’t.


Your “amazing” ability…

Leonardo DaVinci is probably the most famous painter I know. Randy Moss on the other hand, is not a painter. Instead, he is one of the most athletically talented human beings ever to step foot on a football field. How well do you think Randy could paint the Mona Lisa? What about Leonardo? Could he have been a star quarterback for the Eagles this year if he were alive? Of course, none of us know the answer to these hypothetical questions, but we could guess. My guess is that even after years of painting instruction, I don’t think Randy would ever be the artist Leonardo was and vice versa. Why not? Is the saying our world “tells” us, that “you can be whatever you want to be”, true? I personally do not think so, and here is why.

God has given all of us specific abilities and gifts. Exodus 31 includes one of the most clear illustrations of this we will ever read. God’s tabernacle required some very fancy, ornate items to go in it. We are told God filled a man, Bezalel, with His spirit AND with the artistic ability and intelligence to create these things. God gave him the ability and a purpose for his God-given ability. Bezalel’s gifts and abilities, used properly in the right place and the right time, created items perfectly suited to worship and glorify God.

It is fairly obvious that God has also given us innate gifts, skills and talents that no one else in our family, possibly in the world, has as well. At the same time, He has given others gifts you and I do not have. For instance, no amount of instruction and learning could make me a world class singer. Yes, I could improve. I could possibly learn to actually stay on key-but no matter how many hours I spent taking voice lessons, I am 100% certain I  never would or could be a singer. It is not my gift. But, I do have an innate interest and understanding of some technology that others don’t. I love helping others in these areas when they are having trouble. These seemingly small “gifts” can be just as fully used to bring glory and honor to God as Bezalel’s craftsmanship. The big question is, am I looking for where God wants me to use the gifts He has given me, or am I just enjoying them and using them for my own glory? I have a choice.

What ability(ies) has God given you? Do you and I regularly pray and ask God where and how He wants you to use them today for His glory? As Miriam studies criminology, if she is gifted in that area, God could use her to bring justice to unjust situations in this world to God’s glory. Or, she could just use it to make as much money as she can for her own pleasure. Jordan is gifted in the area of being able to draw and lead those around him. He can get others very excited about something and interested in taking part. Will he use that to draw non-believers to a Christian function or church or just to get behind supporting one of his special interests? Aaron can build and see things from a mechanical perspective. Will he use this to possibly help build homes for the needy one day if given the opportunity or just to make his home an amazing wonder for others to see and for his own pleasure. There is no doubt God has gifted each and every one of us. Our task is to see how we can use it for the good of others and to God’s glory as Bezalel did.  I do not believe that you can be “whatever you want to be”. I do believe though, if you use the gifts God has given you for the works he has prepared for you, no other human being on earth will be able to match what you will be able to accomplish for God!


There was and is a reason…

We are making progress researching colleges with Aaron. There is a reason we are looking at colleges. He plans to go to one after he graduates. There is a reason we had a general contractor out to our house a few weeks ago. We hope to have some things done in the kitchen. There is a reason dad takes a gym bag to work in the mornings. He walks during the day at work. There is a reason I drive to the grocery store. I buy groceries there so we can eat. Actions are done for a reason, not haphazardly.

The reason God led the Israelites out of Egypt was so that He could “dwell among them.” Just as our actions have purpose and reason, so do God’s. In today’s Scripture, God makes one of his reasons clear: He desires to dwell with His people. This is one of those Scriptures that makes his heart towards us obvious. He doesn’t want to be “kind of near” us. He doesn’t want to just watch us. He is not looking to punish us. He is not waiting to just laugh at us or mock us. He wants to dwell with his people. We read the Bible to “know God” and today, we have part of God clearly spelled out for us.

This has always been his desire. God wants to dwell with his people. We see it here in Exodus and can trace it all he way through to the New testament in Ephesians 3:17 where we are told, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” Because God is holy, he could not just dwell with the Israelites in their current state. We all know that he laid out what needed to be done so he could dwell amongst them and no one could meet those standards. If it was all meant to be a cruel joke, then that would have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. God then continued his plan to make it possible for him to dwell with us by sending Jesus. He was the final way to make it possible.

Today’s scripture is a reminder of God’s heart. He desires to dwell with and amongst you. When we seek God with our whole heart, he is not trying to make it as hard as possible to find him or be near him. He is not backing away or hiding so we can not find him. He does not turn his back on us, or avoid us. He went to the greatest length possible to dwell among us.

This is one of those rocks on which we can stand. This is an insight into God’s heart and his love for us. On those days that you doubt if pursuing your relationship with God is “worth” it or real, consider this. We serve a God who desires to be with us. When you sit to read your Bible and you don’t “feel” like God is present-pray that He would make his presence known to you and trust in the truth that He desires to be there. When you don’t fully understand the Bible or why something is happening, God is dwelling amongst you and I, so why do we hesitate at all to ask him? He is a God who from the outset desired to “dwell” among us and He still does!


Where do we “dwell”?

We have all seen many opinions and comments about what should be done in the aftermath of the latest school shooting. One of the quotes that is commonly posted on social media when these things occur is the hypothetical note that states:
“Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed, a concerned student.
Dear Concerned student, I’m not allowed in schools.  ~God”
There is a bit of truth to this and in our world. Evidence in our own nation of a clear move away from God, godly lifestyles and obedience to God’s standards is not hard to find. Things like allowing a child to decide if they are a boy or girl, legalization of homosexual marriages and the prosperity gospel and lifestyles are just the tip of the iceberg. None of this should be a surprise to us at all. It is also certainly no surprise to God.

God told the Israelites this would happen thousands of years ago. He did not specifically say that homosexual marriage would be legalized or the other things above, no, but he did warn of snares. He warned his people in Exodus what would happen if they allowed themselves to mix with the pagans in the lands they would be moving in to. He warned that mixing with them would make them sin against Him, because slowly God’s people would turn to serving other gods. Choosing to adopt their customs, worship their gods and harden their hearts to sin, as defined by God, would snare them. It would draw them away from God. It would make them oblivious to the path God was leading them on. They would miss out on blessings God had ready for them. It would destroy their relationship with God. It would snare and corrupt all areas of their life and it did.

It started by mixing and mingling with their pagan neighbors, allowing their lives to be influenced by them. We, naturally, are just as susceptible to this mixing and mingling. God’s warning was that they not serve the gods of their neighbors, but this came from slowly being influenced by their lifestyles. So, where do our influences come from? The same place as the Israelites. They come from those around us who tell us things, invite us to join in activities with them, who hold things in high esteem and encourage us to do the same. So again I ask, who does that to you? Who does that to me? Most of the friends that I spend time with are believers, so for me, it is probably not them. That doesn’t mean I am not influenced or don’t have other voices trying to persuade me. I do. They come through my tech podcasts who can be very liberal in thoughts beyond technology. On facebook or instagram I see pictures of others lives and am pushed to consider if my life measures up in the same way as theirs appear to. My own tendency to be accepted by my peers (remember: peer pressure never ends) can fuel a desire perhaps to overlook a conviction God has given me about a show that perhaps “everyone else” is watching. These are my “modern day” pagan neighbors. The influences are still very much there.

I, just like the Israelites, need to be on my toes daily making sure I am not slowly mixing and succumbing to the snares. You do too. Who and what are your “pagan” neighbors? If you don’t know, you are in trouble, because the snare is there. God’s warning still stands “They shall not dwell in your land.” To dwell is to stay for a long time. To spend most of our time somewhere. Our “land” is our home, friends, computers, apps and anything else where we “live” consistently hour by hour, each and every day. Do not “dwell” amongst pagan influences more than godly ones or you and I will serve other gods. Reject any ideas that are counter to what you and I know as truth in God’s word, no matter where it is coming from. It is not a question God is asking here. Instead, He is stating a fact about what will happen if we choose to “dwell” with them, and it is not good.

Don’t shoot the messenger!

Every morning when I get up, I am very thirsty. I usually have some ice tea to start, but I am currently trying to change that to water. It is a struggle, since I don’t like water. I guess I am not like the Israelites in today’s portion of Exodus. They were thirsty for water. Then again, I don’t think ice tea was an option for them!

I may not be like them in thirsting for water, but there are others ways I am like them, and I bet you are too. They were accusing Moses of something he had not done. Look at Exodus 17:3. The Israelites are thirsty for water because their wanderings have led them to a place without water.  Their actions and attitudes go “south” when they start complaining to Moses. Look at what they say: “Why did you….”. They are accusing Moses of taking them out of Egypt and then have the audacity to go so far as to accuse him of intending to kill them. Maybe they were being facetious, or exaggerating. I don’t know, but one thing I am sure of: they are WAY out of line AND they are accusing the wrong person. It was not Moses idea to bring them out of Egypt. It was God’s idea. If they are going to grumble and complain about their circumstances and the turn their lives have taken, the least they can do is aim it towards the one responsible. God. He is responsible for leading them out and for the exact geographical location with no water where he has led them. It was His plan, not Moses’.

Consider this: If instead of blaming Moses, what if the Israelites had looked at their difficult circumstances and recognized God’s hand was specifically in it instead? Would they have still complained? I don’t know, because that is not what they did. I can guess. They could have complained to God. If they did,  it would have at least, in part, brought them to Him. They may have thought to ask Him to provide for their needs. It would have refocused them to realize God was the supplier of all their needs. For goodness sake, the manna they had probably just had for breakfast had been provided by Him!  Perhaps they would have at least seen hope in God as their leader, trusting that while things were hard, He had a plan and could be trusted. If only they had looked at the true source of their current circumstances and moved forward from there.

But they didn’t. They looked to the wrong person who, by the way, could do nothing on his own about their problem. Moses didn’t have a case of water bottles hidden somewhere that he was keeping from them. You can bet he was thirsty too! They looked to the wrong person and lost hope. They should have gone straight to God.

This is where we are alike. I falsely accuse as well. I can blame trials on people or things that really are not responsible and can’t help me. I can lose sight of the fact that God has me in whatever circumstance to bring himself glory through my little life. I forget to ask Him to help me with my dire needs. Instead I just try to help myself, ask others who can not help or just wallow in frustration, lashing out at the closest person I can find. None of these things are productive. None bring hope. None help me trust God. The old saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger” certainly applies here. God reminded me today (and hopefully you too) to stop complaining and falsely accusing others when I am struggling, and instead, to come straight to Him. He is the only one who can give me what I need to survive my current trial and any I will face in the future.


Grab a sharpie…

Did you ever write a note on your hand with pen so you wouldn’t forget it? This is a fairly common method used through the ages when you REALLY want to remember something. I bet you didn’t know it goes all the way back to biblical times, did you?

While they did not have ballpoint pens or sharpies back in Moses day, they did have parchment and writing instruments. And God had reminders too. In Exodus 13, he is further laying out the passover celebration, and likens it to a written reminder that would always be before their eyes. The custom was to not eat “leavened” bread (think something like Naan bread)  for 7 days (along with other things) so as to be reminded of what God did for them in the exodus out of Egypt. He does not want them or their future generations to ever forget that He has a strong hand, and was responsible for saving them.

Why was and is this important? It points to two apparently very important characteristics of God: He is VERY strong and He is trustworthy. They were to remember these things and realize they could trust him to save us them in the worst of circumstances. God knew what the Israelites would face in the future including the Assyrians, Babylonians and more. If they could remember to trust and keep following God, and not to turn back to trusting other things (ie: like their tendency to turn back to Egypt) they would be able to walk in God’s blessings. To help them remember this, God says in Ex. 13:8, “You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ They were to say “We eat this bread and celebrate a whole week long like this because of what the Lord did for us in Egypt.” In other words, “Don’t forget what God is like and has done for us.”

God is still all-powerful. God still saves us, knowing what our future holds, which most likely includes hardships. Part of helping us get through those difficult times when we will be tempted to not trust God or think he is not strong enough to help us is to dwell on the characteristic of God that we need to be reminded of. Is it hard for you to believe God has not lost control of a situation? Memorize or write down a scripture like Prov. 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Maybe you worry. Remind yourself of Phil. 4:6-and pray God would help you not be anxious, give Him your requests, and pray for the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Are you emotionally or physically tired? Carry Isaiah 40:30-31 in your pocket, to remind you that everyone gets weary, but if you are faithful to wait on God, he will renew your strength. Whatever the characteristic of God is that we specifically tend to forget or that we need most, find a verse and write it down to remind yourself. Try to memorize it so you can call it to mind. Perhaps pick a time of day every day that you commit to reading it or having it pop up on your phone. Whatever you need to do to keep it with you, do it. If you need to borrow a pen or Sharpie, I would be happy to lend you one!



Have you ever watched the show “Intervention”? I watched it while I was up visiting Gege and Grandpop. On this show, family and friends get together with trained professionals to confront substance addicts to convince them to go to rehab. They do this to get them to help themselves, and save themselves from further destruction. Unfortunately the addicts are not always willing. They all too often, choose to continue in their downward spiral of actions and choices further destroying themselves and those around them. It is very, very sad, and preventable.

How do you think an addict, prior to addiction, would answer the question; “Will drugs help you in life or hurt you?” Surely any heroin addict would say it would destroy them. They know it before hand, but still choose heroin. What they are doing is consciously disregarding what they know to be true.

As I read through Exodus, and particularly today through God’s instruction to his people for the passover, I see a connection between the drug addict and the Israelites. Both willingly opt for what they know to be destructive and wrong. In the Israelites case, God gave His people preventative measures against this. We see in Exodus today how God laid out a specific ritual, passover, to be repeated over and over again. It was to remind them and all future generations what God had done for them, who God was, and to obey and keep their lives focused on God. This would prevent them from turning away from God through disobedience, turning to idols or their own sinful desires because that would lead to their destruction.  If you asked those first Israelites “Will disobedience to God help you or hurt you?” they would all know the right answer. Sadly, history shows that they, just like the drug addicts, deliberately chose disobedience, and the spiral downward began.

We know the right answer too. Unfortunately, we too, like the Israelites need rituals or habits as reminders. Without them, we will be tempted to ignore what we know to be true and disobey God. The difference is, we now have the Holy Spirit to help us stay the course. He is the ultimate “Intervention”. God gave us His word and the Holy Spirit to keep us on track and away from disobedience. In fact, this week’s verse (James 4:7) sums up perfectly what we ought to do, so we don’t start down that road of destruction. We should continually submit to God and obey Him. and flee the devil’s temptations to disobey, convincing us that God is too “restrictive” in our lives. I was reminded in a sermon last week that Satan is always trying to convince us God is “restrictive”. Just consider this: Adam and Eve were granted freedom to eat from EVERY SINGLE TREE in the garden except one. What did Satan do? He focused their attention on the one tree they could not have, instead of focusing on the wealth of gifts and the incredible freedoms God had given them. It destroyed them. He will do the same to you and I. He will try to get us to disobey by convincing us we are “missing out”, which leads to destruction.  Just consider this question honestly: Which must you choose to experience blessing or life? Obedience or disobedience? We all know the clear, true answer. It is as clear and simple as the fact that drugs lead to a destroyed life.

God told the Israelites to put practices. like the Passover celebration, in place so they would remember what God had done for them and who He was. It would keep them on track and obedient. It would keep them on the path to life. What practices are we putting in our lives, so that we foster the “intervention” of the Holy Spirit daily to keep us on track and off of the road of destruction? If we have very little or none, guess which road we will end up on?


Heads or Tails?

The Super Bowl this Sunday will begin with the flip of a coin. Just one coin-with two sides: heads or tails. There are only two choices.

Flipping a coin, even in the Super Bowl, is not that big a deal. But there are other things in life with just two choices that are a really big deal. Today, in the life of Joseph, I see one of those really “big deals.” His dad has died, and now there is nothing to stop him from seeking revenge on his brothers. He has two distinct choices- he can pour out complete vengeance on them with all the powers he has available to him being the second in power in Egypt, or he can choose not to. His brothers know this and he knows it. His brothers, knowing this, are in dire fear of Joseph’s choice. Apparently, they still don’t know Joseph well at all.

Joseph does not live like his brothers. He doesn’t act or think like them. This is why they miscalculate him. They expect him to do what they would do. Instead, Joseph views life and his responses to what life hands him completely different. His brothers did do egregious evil to him. This is a fact. Joseph does not deny that it was evil. What he does, though, is sees a purpose in it. He sees that he is NOT God, and not in God’s place. He also sees what God was able to do with their evil act. He sees good that God brought about through and despite the evils done to him. This allows Joseph to completely dismiss the idea of seeking revenge on his brothers.

The difference between Joseph and his brothers? How he thought. Joseph interpreted and lived life differently. Good and evil came into his life just as it does ours, and in his case, in much more life-altering ways than we may ever experience. He watched how God meant it for good and was even able to rejoice in that. By doing so, he demonstrated incredible mercy and forgiveness to his brothers. He saved the lives of 11
men, who became the nation of Israel. He experienced joy instead of bitterness from anger. He healed family relationships that had been severed for decades. He provided for his family who might have otherwise died in a famine. The list could go on. The point is, by living out the truth we read in Romans, that God can “work all things together for good to those who love God”, Joseph’s life and the lives of all those around him were richer than they ever could have been otherwise.

Think of that last “evil” thing done to you. Can you see any way God was able to use it for good? If not, pray about it and ask God to show you. Pray for eyes to trust and see how He is working it for your good. Look and see how others around you are blessed by your decisions in difficult circumstances or when things go wrong. This is how we learn to actually stand on the promises of God (not just memorize them) and how our trust in God’s faithfulness will be strengthened. Seeing the good that God can bring about despite evils done to us will also surely be a blessing to all of those around us, bringing life where there might otherwise be death.