Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Sin, deliverance, grace, faith and mercy.  We throw these words around freely assuming that people understand what they mean. Yet one can’t help but think, “Do people truly understand the Gospel and its significance for their lives?”  Are people grasping the basic teachings and foundations of Christianity?  Do we truly understand what it means to be saved and have eternal life through Jesus Christ?  So in my last post I began to talk about how we in sharing our faith and even every now and again as we teach and preach from the pulpit, have to lay down the basics of Christ and Christianity for our audience.

But before I can go any further however, I think it is absolutely necessary to lay out what I consider to be some essential truths or perspectives that I personally consider PARAMOUNT in following God through Jesus Christ. I learned pretty early-on if you get a good handle of these concepts, its makes it just a little easier to develop and grow in your relationship with the Lord.  This list is by no means exhaustive and please note the disclaimer that this is my personal opinion.  I am sure others and perhaps even some of you reading right now if asked may have similar overlapping suggestions or perspectives that may be somewhat different. Either way, I pray that this list will help bring some enlightenment and understanding to someone as we aim to go back to the basics of Christianity.

Here we go…

1) You cannot follow God strictly by intellect.  Get over how brilliant you think you are.

I know….Ouch!  But yes, you are hearing right.  The truth is, you are just not that smart.  This was a difficult lesson I had to learn firsthand because of the way I am naturally wired. Listen, I’m blessed to work as a medical professional.  By nature I am analytical, detail –oriented and somewhat of a deep thinker.  Confidence, sound judgment and at times quick decisive action are just a few of the skills that I must have in my arsenal in order to care for those who walk through my office door.  All of these facets of intellect allow me to do what I do, just as it allows you to perform certain tasks using the talents and gifts you have been given.

It’s not quite so simple when it comes to the Lord. Why?  Because God is beyond human understanding.  He is an oxymoron in every way. He’s in some ways simple yet mind-blowingly complex; He is loving, gentle, compassionate and meek and at the same time frightening and terrible, especially in times of anger or quite frankly just because of His majestic power.  He can come quiet as a dove or as forceful as a raging fire storm. He knows everything about everything at all times and in all places. Sometimes He gives, sometimes He takes away. Sometimes He punishes, sometimes He pardons.  I could go on and on. My point is, you could merge together the genius of the world’s greatest minds throughout history and it would not begin to scratch the surface of God’s wisdom and knowledge.  And on top of that, He shares with us what He chooses to share.  So there are things you will learn and understand about God because He chooses to share them. And things you will not know because he hides it or alternately because our limited human minds cannot understand it.

A widely accepted basic belief that is rooted in the teachings of ancient philosophers and commonly accepted in Christianity and among many world religions today is that human beings are essentially made of 2 main parts:   the material and the immaterial or what is considered the natural (the things in the world we can detect with our human senses) and supernatural (those things in the world that are present beyond the natural senses).  That being said, there are different theories proposed to further explain the makeup of human beings with 2 such popular thoughts in Christianity being the tripartite theory and bipartite theory of humankind. Stay with me now! The tripartite theory asserts that human beings are comprised of three main parts:  body, soul and spirit.  The bipartite theory asserts that human beings are made up of two parts:  body and soul/spirit.  So in other words, although tripartite and bipartite theory share the belief that human beings are made of the body, bipartite theory sees no separation between soul and spirit.  The word soul or the word spirit are different words that can both be used to describe the same thing.[1] Tripartite theory would argue that the soul is a distinct entity and the spirit is a distinct entity.  For reasons beyond the scope of discussion for this blog post, my personal belief is in the tripartite theory of man so I will elaborate more from that perspective.  I hope you are still with me? I know some of this detailed information may seem pointless, but trust me in believing you will soon see that these points will help to bring greater insight into why following God is not strictly about intellect and reason.   Almost there!

So the body constitutes the natural or material part of us. It would include our natural senses, organs and limbs for example.  It is essentially the parts of us that can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, etc. and it is also through the natural senses that we interact with the natural world we live in.

The soul and spirit are considered to be more supernatural aspects of ourselves and the parts we know the least about. The soul is made up of the mind (intellect, reasoning and judgment), will (the power of choosing one’s own actions, conscious choice in regards to actions or thoughts, desires)[2] and emotions (feelings).  It is through the soul that we have our cravings, passions, appetite and desires for certain things.   You can now imagine why someone with a “sick” soul can make bad decisions based on irrational judgment or unhealthy emotions.

And then there is the spirit. This is perhaps the most mysterious and supernatural aspect of us that we know.  The spirit is believed to be the part of us that makes us conscious or aware of God.

It operates in ways outside of the natural world as we know it. Now am I saying we don’t use our minds in some capacity to have a relationship with God? Of course not.  You have to love and follow God with every dimension of your being:  your body, your soul and your spirit.   But the ego and pride that naturally comes with our human intellect must be buried to follow and love God. First as I keep emphasizing, your intellect is less than adequate to fully decipher the vastness of God so there is no reason to boast. Second, if you approach God with a superior know-it-all mindset, how can you ever humble yourself and give Him the reverence that He demands and the honor that He is due?

Because of sin (deeper discussion in later posts), every human being is born with what is known as an unregenerate spirit. It means by nature, humans are naturally wicked and we naturally oppose the things of God. However, when we open ourselves, surrender our will and allow God’s Spirit to have an authentic encounter with our spirit, he will give you the gift of spiritual regeneration.  In other words, God will illuminate, renew, restore and transform your spirit and cause you to gravitate to Him. And your regenerated spirit, under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit will then influence your soul and body to live a life that honors and desires God and the things of God.[3]  The deeper in relationship you get with God, the more your appetite and cravings will be for Him and what He represents. Through this ongoing transforming process, you will learn to love the Lord God with all your body, soul and spirit.  It is

especially through our spiritual connection with God, as God Himself is a Spirit that we get insight based on what God shares with us that is outside of what the mind can understand.  It is primarily by the leading of our spirit by God’s Spirit that we love Him, obey Him and love each other, even the unlovable, when it naturally doesn’t make sense and when we naturally would choose to do the opposite.  It is God’s amazing Spirit that enables us to do extraordinary things beyond our natural human ability. The concept of the spirit will come up over and over again in this Back to Basics series where I can elaborate further on this crucial part of who we are.  Furthermore, this Spirit-to spirit connection between us and our Creator is why people can still worship, have relationship and connection with God despite mental, intellectual or physical disability.  The point is not to get hung on the details but to realize that God connects with us prominently through the supernatural aspects of ourselves.  He wants to have a deep connection with you!

At the risk of becoming too long winded, I will stop here for now.  Looks like each concept will have to be its own separate post versus completing it all in one writing as I initially thought.

So remember—the mind and the intellect is a gift from God.  But make it easier on yourself and humble yourself from now. Never think you are sharp enough to outthink or fully grasp Him.  He will baffle you every time.  A mind tempered in humility is the best mind to have….and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

Bibliography

[1] Strauss, Lehman, “Man A Trinity (Body, Soul, Spirit),” published June 14, 2004, https://bible.org/seriespage/2-man-trinity-spirit-soul-body (accessed October 14, 2015).

[2] Dictionary.com, s.v. “Willl,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/will (accessed October 17, 2015).

[3] Strauss, Lehman  “Man A Trinity (Body, Soul, Spirit)

Please check out this post and others on my blog “And Yet Still I Rise” athttps://andyetstillirise.wordpress.com/
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As the summer is winding down and we are moving full steam to the last quarter of the year 2015, the perceptive mind will reveal that now is the time of “back to.” For many students in the United States and in other parts of the world, August and September marks the dreaded end of summer break and the time of going “back to” school; for many on holiday, now is the time of going “back to” work; even this Sunday September 20th, 2015 marks the annual return of what has been dubbed as “Back to Church Sunday,” where churches across the nation make a concerted effort to draw those who have strayed away from or who do not know about the Christian faith into their open doors.
Yet, as I took an excellent course on biblical theology over this summer with Dr. Louis A. DeCaro Jr., I was reminded that in sharing our Christian faith we have to sometimes follow this “back to” theme. We have to look back in order to continue to progress forward. We have to be intentional about going “back to the basics!” So often we teach and preach the Gospel assuming that our audience understands common Christian terms and concepts. We throw out terms like grace, deliverance and redemption freely. Do people really, especially those new or early in the Christian faith, know what they mean? Do people even know what the Gospel is? Do people understand what the term means when we say it?
It’s time to get “back to basics!”

We share the truth that Jesus died as a living sacrifice for our sins so that we would have everlasting life and be restored in right standing with God. How many truly grasp and understand this concept? Has anyone taken the time to really explain the core meaning of salvation and the magnitude of its implications? Or are people left with unanswered questions like what is sin? What do I need to be saved from? Who cares if Jesus died—doesn’t every religion lead to God?
Beloved it’s time to revert “back to basics!”

How many people attend church week after week out of duty, ritual or family tradition, but have no true understanding of what we teach? How many Christians have a robotic connection with God, just going through the motions, while lacking a richly authentic and fulfilling relationship with the Creator? How many people fall away from the Christian faith when trials come because they were never properly anchored in the first place?
People of God we must heed the call to get back to the true foundation—we must run “back to the basics!”

So often we look to the Bible as an anecdote for life’s problems, a guide book of how to live, for encouragement and hope. Sure the Bible tells of us man’s origin, what the end will look like and insight into the character and nature of God. It gives us wisdom on a vast array of subjects including relationships, morality and social justice. No one can deny that the Bible is a strategic map to living your best life, the blueprint to understanding God and His ways and is the Word and declaration of God. Yes! The Bible is and does all of these things!

But despite all of these themes, Biblical Theology emphasizes that the primary theme or core concept of the Bible is that it is God’s story of love for what He created and how from a posture of love, He intentionally worked to save His creation (yes that includes you!). The Bible is the powerful and inspiring documentation of how God simply saved. Saved intentionally, step by-and-step and with unfathomable love.

Now despite all I have said, I realize that depending on the audience it is not always necessary to explain every basic concept when preaching or teaching on a large scale. It is assumed certain concepts are understood as people are more mature Christians. Of course, it is sometimes appropriate to focus on specific themes like victory, breakthrough, hope, faith, anointing, etc. as the Holy Spirit directs us. And small groups like Bible studies and other focused meetings are designed to teach and elaborate on the basics of Christianity especially for new believers. But especially when evangelizing (sharing with others about our Christian faith) and every now and again even from the pulpit, we must take the time to teach the simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the story of redemption.

Journey with me over the next few posts, as the Lord leads, as I attempt to just simply share what I have learned and understand about the Gospel and God’s story of redemption (will even explain this word in later posts). I humbly don’t profess to have every answer nor am I trying to do a comprehensive teaching about Christianity. But simply based on my own experiences and the teachings that I have accepted from a variety of sources on my Christian walk, I will share what I understand at this point to be the truth…..my truth. Please feel free to comment, correct or share your own understanding and experiences as we go along. If you can bring insight into a certain topic, please share. My prayer is that someone will be drawn to Jesus Christ, others will get further understanding of who He is and we will all be reminded, even those who know Him, that God indeed loves us with an unapolegtic, everlasting love!

A firm and basic foundation will always lift you higher….and yet still I rise.
With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,
Stillirise323

Good morning friends,
This morning I was sharing this message with a friend of mine going through a difficult time where she has been mistreated and I felt led to share more globally. It is something I am sure many of you have heard before and already know. However, sometimes as we go through our difficulties, we are feeling low or people make us feel like we are less than we are, we forget and take God’s love for granted. I pray this will minister to someone and serve as a reminder to us all. You are loved!


Jeremiah 31:3 New International Version
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Roman 8.26 NKJV
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Good morning! This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in this day! No matter what we are facing we are alive and God is for us! So we always win!

God is so amazing. The scripture is saying you don’t have to have fancy words to pray. Just talk to God sincerely. And sometimes when we are so distressed and don’t have the words, the Spirit of God that is in us will go to God on our behalf. Even when we don’t have the words to speak God understands when we groan, cry out or just send thoughts and prayers to Him in our mind. He knows our heart. And He has compassion for us. No matter what we do God loves us even in our flaws. Don’t try to compare God’s love to human love. Although it is hard not too. God loves us in a way that is hard for us to imagine.

He loves you when you do well or even when you mess us. He loves the murderer, the robber and the thief. He loves the liar, the prostitute and the con artist. He may not love our actions but He loves us. He loves us all. He just wants you to surrender to Him, let Him take control, heal you and change you for the better. So you can be the very best you can be.
Even when people don’t love you or treat you right remember God loves you! You are loved! You are His beloved! You are His daughter (or son), His princess (or prince), His masterpiece, His treasure, His joy! Receive and be healed in God’s love.

Everyday wake up, look in the mirror and say: I am God’s , masterpiece! God loves me! God loves me and I love me! I am loved!

With peace and blessings may you be restored and renewed in God’s love!

Stillirise323

It is never easy to lose a loved one. We miss the sound of their voice, the warmth of their embrace  and the very scent that defines them.  Yes even for those of us who trust and believe that heaven is our final destination, in our humanity, the grief of loss is a pain that is comparable to none.  A verse that is often used for comfort or is commonly used in times of grief reads “to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). In other words, we can find some comfort in knowing that death takes us from the  perils, suffering and devastations of this world and brings us to an unimaginable place of joy and ecstasy, as we stand in the very presence of God.  

But as I read this verse a few weeks ago, The Lord would show me a different perspective. We don’t have to wait to be literally absent from the body through death to be present with The Lord.  We can be present with The Lord in this life. How?  By choosing to be absent from the body of our “fleshly ways” and walking in the power of the Spirit.  Besides the literal meaning of what our bodies are, that being the physical aspect of ourselves, metaphorically the “body” or “flesh” biblically represents the aspects of ourselves that are earthly, sinful, carnal. It is through the medium of the sinful flesh that we lie, steal, cheat, hate, walk in pride, lust, anger and indulge in all things sinful.

When we have a carnal or fleshly mindset it separates us from God. How could this be? Simply because the carnal mind is enmity(hostile) against God; it is not subject to the law of God nor indeed can  be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8, NKJV). So not only does the flesh or a carnal/fleshly mindset offend God, but it literally causes us to be hostile toward God. If not put in check, it pushes us away from the very Source of our life. That’s why every day, every minute, every second, we have to make the decision to be “absent from the body, so we can be present with Lord” even in this life. This however cannot not be done with sheer motivation or will-power. We alone, in our limited sinful human capacity cannot overcome the “flesh” on our own. We must accept the free gift of salvation through making Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Then God’s Holy Spirit, through our cooperation and submission, will transform us to become more like Christ. Just like Jesus willingly gave up his flesh to be crucified, through the power of the Holy Spirit fortifying and empowering our own spirit, we can crucify those fleshly ways. We can deaden that fleshly mindset that is hostile and contrary to God. We can begin to walk in holiness, righteousness and become all who God has called us to be. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can have access to God’s presence and all the benefits that it entails–indescribable love, peace, joy, wisdom, guidance, supernatural power and everything we need to endure the trial of this life.

It will not happen overnight. I’m not saying it is alway comfortable. The flesh to be sure does not go down easily or submit willingly. It will fight submission to God. You will even fight yourself. You may still say an unkind word when the Spirit says to hold your peace; you may still lie sometimes when you know it is wrong; you may still feel some bitterness when God says to love. Transformation is a lifelong process. But know that through the limitless power of the Holy Spirit it can be done. You can adapt the mind of Christ. You can the enjoy the presence of His Presence in the present…..and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,
Stillirise323

 

 

Totality. Without partiality.  Complete.  ALL.  The word ALL is a  common word in most cultures.  We throw  it around fairly regularly.  “He or she is my all and all” or “I have to give it my all” are common phrases in English vernacular. But when you think of the concept of ALL is there anything or anyone that fully demonstrates or defines this concept more completely than God?  You might be pretty intelligent–but no one is all wise.  Your wife may be a fairly patient person, but is she always patient?  None can deny an artistic gift, but do you know anyone who is all-gifted?  The truth of the matter is none of  us are complete or consistent in anything that we are or anything that we do.  But when it comes to God, there is no shortcoming; there is no lack.   When it comes to every good thing on earth and in heaven, God in some way is related to, embodies or is the origin of it all.
How you may ask?  Well to start, one of God’s many names is El–Shaddai which has commonly been translated as the Lord God Almighty. That doesn’t mean on a good day God is mighty and on a bad day, God is half-way mighty.  It means God is consistently, irrefutably, undeniably mighty without fail. His might cannot be diminished.  That goes right along with the fact that  God is omnipotent or all powerful.  All power is in His hand.  His very essence is power.  Typhoons and tornados, the birth of a baby from a mother’s womb and the miraculous healing of a body ravaged with cancer are all a testiment to God’s might and power.  It would only make sense that somenone with all that power should know what their doing, right? Well, have no fear because  God is omniscient—He is all-knowing.  He knows everything about all things at all times.  He knows the grandest to the most minuscule details of your life.  So even when you have uncertainties and doubts, when you don’t know, God knows. Rest in knowing you have an all-wise God walking beside you.  Notice I said beside you because God is omnipresent.  He is always present.  Herbert Lockyer said it best in his book, All the Doctrines  of the Bible when he said God “has no center and His circumference is everywhere.” Remember , God Himself promised to never leave you nor forsake you.  These are common attributes that we ascribe to God, but it doesn’t stop there.  What can I say of a God who is all-faithful, all-loving, all-providing, all-righteous, all-holy and the list goes on.  We serve a God that is all good.
Now knowing this, why would you put your trust in people or things  who fail or fall short? Even the best of us who are appear to be “good” people are  inconsistent ?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to put your faith and trust in an all perfect, ever-faithful, consistent God?  It can only serve to benefit you.  Why? Because we serve a  God who has all and gives  all, so we can be all.
A GOD THAT HAS ALL
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,  the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1, NKJV). All things are created by God and all things are created for God.  Not only is the earth the Lord’s, but the heavens and the entire universe as well.  Angels and demons, celestial bodies and nature, man and animals–  God has complete dominion over all spheres of creation.    You may be thinking that’s great for God, but how does that pertain to me?
A GOD THAT GIVES ALL
The amazing thing about God is that He does not selfishly keep His resources to Himself.   He lovingly and mercifully blesses us from the abundance of all He has.  He is a giving and gracious God.   “… His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,….(2 Peter  1:3, NKJV).  Notice the passage says He has given us all things for life and godliness.  You need peace–God’s got it. You need wisdom? Ask and it will be given generously.  Next time you feel depressed, put in your request for a helping of unspeakable joy.  Issues with  self-control–He can give you that too.  All that you need is available to you in abundant supply through the gift of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven and we could have relationship with God.  This is why, the great apostle Paul could confidently say, “my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19, NKJV).  All that you need is available to you through God’s grace (God’s gift of undeserved favor to you).  Truly His grace is all-sufficient.
SO WE CAN BE ALL
When you surrender to God, you can become all that He has created you and destined you to be.   The bible says , “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).  In Christ, we have a whole new lease on life and and a glorious destiny to fulfill.  That old sinful man with those old sinful ways start to dissolve. The way you use to speak, you won’t speak anymore.  Anger and bad attitudes  give way to kindness and gentleness.  You start to see things the way God sees, strive to live to please God and  you will love the things that God loves.  Now don’t be fooled.  It doesn’t happen over night. But with the Spirit of God living inside of you and by your surrendering  and cooperating with God’s Holy Spirit, every day you will become more like Jesus.  Every day you will become the extraordinary person God has called you to be.  Everyday you will become a reflection of His light and His glory.
Finally, just as Jesus came with a purpose, every single human being on this earth is here to fulfill a purpose.  The road however, to fulfilling that purpose in the confines of this world can be tough. Walking with God isn’t always easy.  But I guarantee, the power of ALL through God will carry you through.  There are  days you may feel weary–but know that “you can do all things through Christ who strenghthens you (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).    Some situations and tasks may seem downright impossible and you are absolutely right; with man some things are impossible.  But trust and believe with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26, NKJV). You may have to endure trials, tribulation, storms and suffering—but no experience or circumstance is wasted by our sovereign God. He can turn every mess into a miracle, use that disaster for your spiritual development and transform every  trial into a testimony all for His glory.  The God of all can use every situation for your benefit.  Not some things, not most things, not a few things but we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NJKV).
So make the Lord of all,  your all and all.  In Him is all that you need…..and yet still I rise.
With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,
Stillirise323

I can admit this week hasn’t been my best week of being the face of Jesus Christ.  If I keep it real I must confess I could have been just a little more patient; reacted a bit more calmly; chosen my words a little more carefully.  Yes…inspirational emails, passing out bible tracts, sharing  and quoting scripture, soul stirring church sermons and blankedly talking to people about the gospel can all play a role in  pointing people to salvation in Jesus Christ . But perhaps one of the most effective and powerful ways to show people the Way, the Truth and The Life is to be a light in all that we do.  We have to be a living marquee; a visible human billboard that  screams out God’s glory in our words, actions, behaviors and every aspect of our lives.

The great apostle Paul said in Philipians 4:9, “the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me these do, and the God of peace will be with you “(NKJV).

Paul could say that boldly and without reservation because from what we know of him, he seemingly always represented Jesus the right way.    The question is can you? Are you living in a way  that you would be justified in encouraging someone to imitate the Jesus in you? Is anyone learning from you?  Are you a blessing to someone or planting seeds which will blossom into them knowing God more?  Or are you living a life where your actions don’t live up to your words  and you fit  the mantra do as I say and not as I do? 

Your life is always in view.  People are watching and surely God sees it all.  Don’t live to please people, but live to please the God who is looking to use you to save other people.  The most powerful witness (i.e. evidence) of Christ you can be is to let every part of Christ be witnessed in your life.  If the facts of your life were on trial, let the witnesses say the character of Christ:  love, peace, patience, kindness, humility were evident in all you do.  Let the final verdict be that your were truly a worthy disciple of Christ and a genuine ambassador of God’s Kingdom.

Thank God for a new day and new grace to become more like Him…and yet still I rise…

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

You ever notice how funny it is to watch someone when their favorite song comes on?  All of a sudden they shift from regular conversation to American idol performance mode.They may jump up, snap their fingers, shake, shimmy or hit a two-step to the beat. We all know that one person who  tries to hit the note they have no business reaching for—all the while  completely lost in absolute bliss.   It is something truly amusing to watch. The right song can shift your mood instantly.  Weighed down with the heaviness and disappointments of life, the beauty of the right song transports  you to a light and carefree space.  A powerful  song can really speak to your spirit or your particular situation. Many a song have made some difficult life lessons and concepts easier to grasp. We can all attest that certain melodies have brought us through some rough seasons, memorialized beautiful memories and has been the balm that helped bring healing to some deeply painful wounds.

Witnessing firsthand the awesome display of God’s power, the children of Israel passionately proclaimed:  “The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation”(Exodus 15:2, NKJV).

If regular songs can do so much for us, imagine how much better off we would be if we allowed the Lord to be our song? If we allow Him to be the central melody in our lives? If we keep Him as the key rhythmn in our heart and march to the beat of His ways, His will and His plan for us? Our lives would flow so much more harmoniously. Not necessarily easier, but certainly more fulfilling, complete and melodically entwined with God to display all of the goodness and beauty that He is.

Let the Lord be your song and I guarantee you will make beautiful music together. Marching to the beat of His drum …and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323