An incident on the 25th of May in the US changed the attention of many people from the fight against COVID 19 to something else. It spilled over the streets, nations and into the whole world. “Black Lives Matter” has become the logo, the cry, the reason for many incidents happening across America and many other nations. Where we are, we may observe that many of us are not black or white either. We are more like beige – different shades of beige. Are we spared from what is happening in the west? And why does it evoke such reactions and protests?
In India, there is a famous facial cream known as Fair and Lovely. The obsession with fair skin is a known secret among many Indians. The influence of media in perpetuating this obsession has cost companies billions of dollars. It cost many lives, career, livelihood and even marriages. As a result of what happened on that day, rumour has it that now there are plans to change the name of the cream. I wonder what it will be. Dark and Lovely?
Recently in Singapore, it was reported that a Malay man, posing as a Chinese woman was charged over offensive tweets against racial harmony. Some of his tweets were against his own people and against the Indians. The government was quick to address the situation and deal with it. In a small country like Singapore where people from different walks of life converge, it is not surprising to find such sentiments. Perhaps this is the reason the founding fathers found it crucial to inculcate a sense of unity among the people of Singapore. It was stated that the ‘wording of the pledge was based on the belief that Singaporeans could overcome the divisions caused by differences of race, language and religion.’ (https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_84_2004-12-13.html)
The pledge reads
“We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”
As a foreigner living in Singapore, I find this pledge very moving. How this pledge will become a reality is beyond me. The leaders of Singapore have done a tremendous work in trying to make this pledge a reality. As with many things, it demands a lot of hard work and a change in our mindset and attitude. To truly see others as ourselves, we will need to go beyond the words and check our hearts and thoughts.
The words of our Lord Jesus Christ in the sermon on the mount reminds us that our thoughts are as important as our actions (Matthew 5). While many of us may not post our opinions or thoughts online, or even say it out loud, perhaps it is also time for us to look at our hearts and what is happening in our homes.
Many years ago, I was invited to my friend’s place. She lived with her mother. As we neared her block, my friend turned to me and said, “No matter what my mother says or ask, don’t let her know you are Indian.” I went and greeted her mother and tried my best to avoid picking up a conversation for fear of stoking my nationality. It was very awkward having to pretend to be someone else. But in order to maintain the peace and friendship, I had to comply.
A small child once told me “You are Indian? My mother told me never to talk to Indians.”
These are just some examples of what I have experienced. I know that I do not fit into the stereo typical Indian look and hence all these interesting encounters. As an Indian, I belong to the slightly fairer category so I am also guilty as charged.
As believers, we will need to see what the Bible has to say when it comes to such a burning topic. When we we become believers, it does not change our race, colour, gender, our vocation, or our ethnicity, but it does relativize all these things.
The Bible records for us two important events. In Gen 11, a group of people wanted to build a name for themselves. They were united and spoke one language. They wanted to stay put and build a tower that would reach the skies and make their own name great. Ironically, the Bible tells us that God had to come down to see the city and tower that the people were building then. The Lord confused them and scattered them from all over the earth. The city and tower failed. The story of the Tower of Babel is a reminder that not all forms of unity is good. It can turn otherwise.
In Acts 2, we have a group of people from different backgrounds gathered for the Jewish festival of the Pentecost. In fact, verse 9 tells us these people were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya near Cyrene, visitors from Rome, Cretans and Arabs! The Holy Spirit enabled them to understand each other despite their differences and disperse into the world for a very different cause. They went out not to make a city or a tower but to make the name of the Lord great. They were united for the gospel.
The power of God is such that it cannot be confined to one colour, race, tribe, language or country. The Holy Spirit deepened the unity of the global church at Pentecost and today we are recipients of that incident. If we ever find ourselves inclined towards the mentality of our own kind (a name for ourselves, our city, our tower), may the story of the Tower of Babel be a reminder that God does not delight in it. His plan is truly unity in diversity.
As believers of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us be reminded of the many passages in the Bible about our unity in God so that we may continue to be salt and light in this city of many races.
1. We are commanded to love one another (John 15:12)
2. We are all made in the image of God (Gen 1:27)
3. We are all one in Christ Jesus, neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28)
4. We are all sinners (Rom 3:21)
5. We are made one through Christ who broke the wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14)
6. We are to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:31)
7. We are not to hate our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:15)
8. We (every tribe, people, language and nation) will be represented in heaven (Rev 5:9-10)
May this be our pledge as Christians:
‘We are one in Christ Jesus, all one body
all one spirit, all together.
We share one God, one mighty Lord,
one abiding faith, one binding love,
one single baptism, one Holy Comforter,
the Holy Spirit, uniting all.’
(Authors: Anonymous; tr. Alice Parker, Anonymous; arr. Phillip W. Blycker)
One day in October last year, I returned home from school to find a little green caterpillar climbing up our front door. Carefully I picked it up brought it into the house and put it in a container, much to the delight of my children. The very next day, to our surprise, the caterpillar was gone and in its place was a chrysalis. Without realizing it, I had provided a safe place for this little caterpillar to turn into a butterfly.
Eagerly we waited for the butterfly to emerge, but as the days passed and with winter approaching, we began to grow doubtful that a butterfly would emerge. And even if it did, with all the flowers and leaves gone, how would it survive? Could it be that the caterpillar had chosen the wrong time to pupate?
For some reason, while all this was happening, thoughts of a similarly unexpected experience resurfaced in my memory. Not too long ago (and quite out of the blue) I managed to reconnect with a friend I had not seen for many years. We caught up over coffee and after some time he asked what my future plans were. After a pause I awkwardly replied that I was in the process of quitting my job to become a missionary. Though he continued smiling and we kept talking, we did not return to this topic again. After we parted ways, I gave out a sigh, wondering if we would meet again. However, to my astonishment, I received a text from him a few weeks later asking to meet.
During our 2nd meeting he shared that since we met, several inexplicable things had happened to him. In a nutshell, he had felt confronted by the presence of God and because of our recent conversation he felt compelled to speak to me about it as he had decided he wanted to become a Christian. Naturally I was overjoyed, to hear such words coming from my friend’s mouth and as we sat down to pray together, I felt amazed at what God had done and so grateful that I could be a part of someone’s conversion story right there and then.
The Work Belongs to the Lord
It has been said time and time again that the work of conversion is entirely the Lords. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, the Apostle Paul reminds us of this in his words,
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
This truth was made manifest to me at this moment as here was a person who I had not interacted with in years, never once shared the gospel to, nor even once prayed for. Had it not been for — what I considered then to be — a ‘foolish’ decision to share my plans to become a missionary I probably wouldn’t be sitting together with him rejoicing in his decision to follow Christ. While I had failed at that moment to recognize that my friend had been in a ‘chrysalis’ state, thankfully God’s work has never been dependent on me or my ability to judge when a person is ready to receive the gospel.
Much like the caterpillar on my front door, all I had done was be in the right place at the right time: God had done everything else. And just like how caterpillars invisibly transform into a butterflies, my friend’s transformation process had happened invisibly inside his heart.
The Timing Belongs to the Lord
Thoughts of my friend’s conversion would come up again and again throughout the months that passed since the caterpillar had become a chrysalis. Because of this, I harbored a secret hope that the chrysalis would be fine and eagerly awaited the coming of Spring.
Sure enough, in April, when the weather had warmed enough, the chrysalis started to change colour and one morning we awoke to find a beautiful butterfly had emerged. By God’s hand, the magical process of metamorphosis had been completed. Indeed, it is a great mystery how nature knows exactly when something should happen though this wisdom is also recorded in God’s word in Ecclesiastes 3:1,
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”.
In subsequent conversations with my friend, I learnt that it was his father who had been praying tirelessly for his salvation all these years. Why the Lord chose to open his heart only at that moment I will never know, but for my friend’s father, his long awaited ‘spring’ had finally arrived. My friend’s salvation was by no means an accident but had happened perfectly, according to God’s timing.
The Planning Belongs to the Lord
One last lesson I received was how God’s plans are not what we expect them to be. After all, God’s word as recorded in Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
After a few hours of emerging from the chrysalis, it became apparent that one of the butterfly’s wings was deformed and it could not fly. Aside from trying to find flowers for it, there was little we could do and in a few days it died. After so many months of waiting our joy at finally seeing it was quickly extinguished by its swift demise. Yet, because of its wing and the amount of attention we poured on it, we managed to spend a lot more time with it than if it had just flown off. While we could not change the fate of our ‘pet’ we tried to give it as best a life it could have. After all, had it been out in the wild, it probably wouldn’t have survived for very long with a deformed wing. Perhaps it was the Lord’s mercy to it that we were there to keep it safe.
In a similar fashion, things did not go as expected following my friend’s conversion. Due to reasons beyond our control, we hardly met more than a handful of times afterwards. A year later I departed with my family to Japan and though I still message him from time to time, it has been difficult to maintain closer ties. While I cannot help but look back and wish that things had gone differently, I trust that I did everything I could. It seems that the Lord had other plans all along for his growth, plans which I am not a part of, at least for the moment I hope! Like the butterfly that could not fly, perhaps this too will be revealed to be a better plan after all?
In retrospect, it surprises me that the Lord used the life of a lowly caterpillar to bring some clarity to my own experiences with my friend. In many ways it has been a great encouragement to me that despite my many weaknesses and faults, the Lord still continues to use me. Thanks to this gentle reminder, I am at peace knowing that while things do not always turn out the way I want them to, the important thing is that the Lord’s work continues uninterrupted
Ultimately it is God who is in control and we, as His church are but humble servants; walking in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit. So whether He is calling us to share the gospel to another, or to be there when someone’s heart is ready to receive it, or even just allowing a little caterpillar to be a part of our lives, may we graciously accept our roles in God’s salvation plan for this world, until the next one comes.
Recently, The Sunday Times commissioned an online survey to find out how people’s perceptions of essential workers have changed, if at all, against the backdrop of Covid-19, and whether they would be willing to pay these workers more. Amongst the questions that were posed to the respondents was “Which are the jobs that they consider to be most crucial in keeping Singapore going?”. From a nationally representative sampling across age, gender and income groups that involved more than 1000 Singaporeans, the papers reported that more than 75% of the respondents ranked being a doctor/nurse, cleaner, garbage collector and hawker as the topmost essential jobs (The Sunday Times, 14 June 2020).
While it not surprising that being a doctor or a nurse is rated as the top essential job, some were considerably dismayed that 71% of the respondents ranked an artist as the topmost non-essential job. Although it is uncertain how the survey defined ‘artist’, the findings of this survey created quite a stir amongst the local artists in our country.
After all, if you are a musician, photographer or if you see your work as involving some form of artistic expression, it is quite understandable to be rankled when others think lesser of your occupation and passion. Furthermore, when one often has to justify his or her rates to tight-fisted clients or demanding audiences on a regular basis even before this pandemic, it will sting even more to discover that fellow Singaporeans appear to be blind towards your contributions to society. And to rub salt to the wound, many artists are already in a tight spot themselves, with gigs being cancelled and work offers drying up ever since the circuit breaker measures were implemented.
If there is any comfort to the artists, it is that even though their jobs may be deemed as “non-essential” by many, it does not mean that people have a negative opinion about what artists are doing. In the same survey, only 29% of the respondents indicated that they do not want to be artists in comparison to 57% who will shun being a rubbish collector and 24% who do not want to be nurses.
This suggests that the social bias towards certain occupations have not changed significantly. As much as people may have grown in their appreciation of some of those jobs considered essential, few are prepared to take them up unless they have no other choices. The reality is that it is one thing to consider a job as essential, it is quite a different matter for people to seek after such jobs or consider them as attractive.
Without going into further discussion whether there are better words to use to categorise the different jobs, it is suffice to say that comparisons are inevitable when it comes to occupations. Christians are also unwittingly caught up in it judging from how parents tend to “advise” their children to study certain courses over another. For that matter, even Christian conferences prefer phrases like “servant-leaders” instead of just “servants” in their publicity videos.
In the Gospel of Mark, we see that Jesus’ disciples had a heated debate about who was the greatest (Mark 9:34). Perhaps out of pride or insecurity, they were trying to justify before one another whose “job” deserves the most recognition or which individual will be worthy of the highest accolades. They were possibly dreaming about the status, honour and power that they would enjoy since they expected Jesus to emerge triumphant against Israel’s enemies.
However, when you consider the context of their dispute, it does make their argument look rather silly. This is because it was not that long ago that the disciples would have beheld Jesus’ glory at his transfiguration and heard God the Father voicing his authoritative stamp of approval upon Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus had displayed his power by delivering a boy from an unclean spirit which the disciples themselves were unable to cast out. All these hints of Jesus’ unique divine identity should have driven the disciples to their knees when they were in Jesus’ presence instead of being caught up with petty one-upmanship.
Surprisingly, Jesus does not rebuke his disciples on this occasion. Neither does he dismiss greatness as something that should not be desired. Instead, Jesus patiently instructs them and realigns their understanding of what true greatness is all about. Undoubtedly, Jesus’ definition of greatness turns much of the first-century debate on its head for according to him, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (v.35).
One should note that the phrase Jesus uses is “servant of all”. Here, Jesus is saying that greatness lies in one’s willingness to be of service unto all, regardless of the latter’s status. In a culture of patronage, the disciples are not to be mistaken into thinking that they should only serve the well-heeled to receive some lucrative reward or that they will gain fame when their service impresses an influential person.
To drive home his point, Jesus called a child to himself and said that “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark9:37). In receiving children, Jesus was implying that true greatness is found in serving and caring for those who are unable to reciprocate, those whom the world accords little status, such as a young child. Indeed, to be true followers of Christ, the disciples must not to think of themselves as above any task, or for that matter above any person whom society deems as lowly or “non-essential”.
What makes Jesus’ teaching even more radical is that Jesus himself identifies with the social standing of a young child. As much as society at that time have little regards for a young child, the child is inherently valuable since he or she is a bearer of God’s image. Thus, whenever one affirms the inherent value of a child, he should also be able to recognise the true worthiness of Jesus. This in turn will place him in right relationship with God.
In a world where people end up idolising those with well-paying jobs or impressive achievements or belittling those doing menial jobs or having lower education, Christians must learn to regard everyone as equally valuable. Indeed, we are to walk humbly before God and fellow man who are made in God’s image. After all, our true value is assigned by God and not dependent upon our job scope, salary or social status. It is because of what Christ has accomplished that we are made valuable. Indeed, anything less would be a terrible affront to the greatest Artist the world has ever known.
COVID – 19 has thrust churches to grab whatever technology might keep them in doing ministry not as an emergency measure but as a new normal. Technology is changing the way the world works.. Businesses have been revolutionized. Families and lifestyles have been reconceived and transformed by our digital world. The church was one of the last remaining institutions to remain mostly unchanged.
Now leaders are planning how best to return to church after COVID – 19. It is interesting that some felt that the new habit of watching church services at home will continue even after the Circuit Breaker is totally lifted. Others believe that Christians will miss the fellowship with other believers and will crave being with them in person. Respondents to a survey done by Salt and Light Ministry* indicated that they are positive about the online Church service – the weighted average of 3.92 out of 5 coming close to a “very positive” score on the whole. When asked to rate their online church experience, the result was:
Less than 10% of respondents said their experience was somewhat or very negative. Looking forward will you head for the church or continue to visit the online services?
Slightly over half say they will only physically attend Church, eschewing the online option. A small minority, 5.36%, may opt out of physical services entirely, preferring the online experience. A significant proportion – more than 4 in 10 – say they will likely do both. Based on current sentiment, almost 49% of viewership could be retained even when physical services restart.
Very interestingly, the younger respondents were significantly more likely to attend physical church when the time for services resumes. More than half of every age group of those below 34 said they prefer the physical church experience, in contrast to the age groups above 35.
(*Source: Beyond the Circuit-Breaker, will Christians still visit online church? (Check-In Survey Findings, Part 3) by Edric Sng, May 21, 2020)
One result of the current pandemic situation may be higher church audiences, but less active participation. People are watching church services on the internet but are much less participative than they were before. The convenience of worshipping at home in front of a computer, tablet, mobile phone or television has become what many are calling the “new normal” of church life.
As a church, we have to start thinking about the possible scenarios, “Will people come back to active, in-person church attendance following the COVID – 19 crisis?” It’s hard to tell what church will look like after the current practice of social distancing. Many agree that our future depends not only on the behaviour of the virus, but on the actions of people – as individuals, churches, communities, and governments. The way forward will not be a matter of following a timetable, but of faithfully discerning the signs of the times, and responding accordingly. If we don’t continue our efforts to contain the virus, a new wave of infections and deaths will cause further damage, and we will lose what we’ve gained from the measures we’ve already taken. We may need to move back and forth between phases if second or third waves of infections emerge.
It’s vital for church to truly take time to pray and think through creative ways to initiate the transition into the physical location of the church to ensure the safety of our community is prioritized adequately. The Great Commandment states, “You shall love the Lord your God … and love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 22:37–39, ESV). During this pandemic, we express our love for ourselves in the ways we protect ourselves from getting infected. In the same way, we express our love for our neighbour in the ways we protect them from getting infected.
An adapted model for re-gathering in-person*:
- Gather in phases – Create a system that allows community gathering, safe entry facilities and temperature taking cameras positioned at entrance. Use a RSVP or ticketing system to monitor the number of people that can attend each service until we can gather in large numbers again. Communicate safety plans and best practices to the congregation.
- Small Groups or House gatherings – This will include people gathering within each other’s homes and streaming services together with 10-15 people. It’s going to be vital to keep these groups with those staying in close proximity and obey social distancing guidelines initially.
- Accept changes as the norm – Acknowledge that some traditions, such as communion, baptism, funerals, marriages may have limitations this year. Collections of offerings will go digital and e-bulletin will be the way to go.
- Hybrid worship services – Pastors may find themselves becoming even busier because they’ll be balancing both virtual and in-person worship experiences. There are still many who will want to participate from home. Continuing online options allows more people to hear the gospel, so if you continue virtual options, be sure not to make online attendees feel less valued than those in-person.
- Church mobile apps – The church will need to look into tools that are crafted specifically for church purpose. Those needs prioritize member engagement and visitor acquisition. Segmented in this way, church will be enabled to optimize the sites for new visitors and optimize the apps for engaged members. This means that small group curriculum, sermon notes, digital giving, event registration, and church communications will all be routed through the church mobile app.
(*Adapted from: “Reopening Small and Mid-Sized Churches: A Discussion on Leading After COVID-19” by William Vanderbloemen April 27, 2020)
What most churches don’t know is that the world has been setting churches up for this transition for a long time — and as it would have happened, COVID – 19 just expedited the process. I call this church online – we need to have our digital infrastructure in place, set up for scale, and work toward maximum engagement and growth. If we want church to grow in engagement, we will need to start implementing these future realities as much as we can now through a paradigm shift so that when these become common practices, members and visitors are ready to jump on the band wagon. Scripture says: “Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). Kind of paradoxical – the consequence of the technological revolution in churches today.
When we take the communion together, pray for one another and confess our sins to one another, it is better done in physical community with online enhancement or augmentation, not replacement. I prefer the phrase “church online” more than “online church.” Our church should be online, but I don’t think it should be an online church. As such, people should be transitioned from an online community to a physical one whenever possible, without abandoning the online aspect. Some people can’t get to church because of illness. Someone may be in a country where the Gospel is persecuted. Those and similar groups can continue to engage the church online. Those participants matter to God. They are real people.
So, the best way to do church online is to intentionally work to move everyone possible from being alone on the screen toward being in community with others and being incorporated into a covenant community. Church online can be a valid outreach if the church communicates that the normal expression of God’s intent and design is that we gather in worship with people and then scatter for the work of mission in the kingdom. A good balance could be for churches to say about their online presence, “We will be there only if you can’t be here.”
(Adapted from “Is an Online Church Really a Church?”, Christianity Today, April 2 2014)
Grumbling (i.e. complaining or protesting) was something that the Israelites did in the wilderness (see Numbers 14:2). God was very angry with them and almost destroyed them if not for the serious intercession of Moses for the people. Grumblings before God and His chosen leaders reflect the lack of trust and faith in God and His leaders (see Numbers 14:11-12). God detests grumblings in the hearts of His people. The Apostle Paul instructed the Philippian believers to “do all things without grumbling.” (see Philippians 2:14). His purpose was that they “may be blameless and innocent” as children of God. The right attitude for God’s people to cultivate is: “Be grateful and be thankful.” Instead of grumbling, let us develop a grateful, thankful heart.
There is a slight difference between “grateful” and “thankful”. Extracted from https://smartleadershiphut.com, “By definition, grateful is feeling or showing appreciation for something done or received. The definition of thankful is feeling pleased and relieved. So, both grateful and thankful are positive feelings and both grateful and thankful are triggered by some event. But the difference between grateful vs thankful is that by definition grateful is directed outwards the person who is feeling it while thankful is generated inside the person.”
We are forever grateful to God who redeems us from sin’s wretchedness and sin’s punishment. At the same time, we are thankful to God for giving us a living hope in His beloved Son Jesus and through Him, receiving eternal life. This reminds me of a familiar song: “Give thanks with a grateful heart.” In this song, we give thanks to God because He has given us Jesus Christ, His Son. It is because of what the Lord has done for us that we are strengthened and enriched.
Through teaching the ACTS format of prayer at the Learning-to-Pray session, I am reminded of the letter “T” which stands for “Thanksgivings.” I explain that in the “Thanksgivings” portion of our prayer, we are telling God how grateful we are for everything He has given to us – even for the unpleasant things in our lives. Through “giving thanks to God”, our attitude towards what is happening in and around us would be changed. Our perspective of the event surrounding us would take on a unique and rightful one. This will enable us to acknowledge that God’s Will is good, pleasing and perfect (see Romans 12:1).
When we start focusing on God, focusing on His faithfulness and goodness, we will gradually become more grateful and thankful in our heart towards Him. When we start recalling how God has provided for our daily needs and how He has delivered us from many tough and unpleasant situations, whether in your workplace or your home, we will definitely offer to God our thanks to Him with a grateful heart.
I know that it is not easy to develop a grateful, thankful heart. I would think that we can be grateful only when we are thankful. During the Circuit Breaker period which is just over on the 1st of June, did we have a grateful, thankful heart? Or did we have a grumbling, unappreciative heart? In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, did we put our trust and faith in God, knowing with confidence that God will see us or bring us through this crisis, whether economically, politically or socially? Did we give thanks to God who is Sovereign, who is in control and knows what He is doing? Or did we grumble and murmur in our hearts against God?
As for me, during these past two months, the Lord has taught me many things. I am grateful to God for all those things which He has taught me. I am grateful to God for enabling me to have my Bible Reading Plan re-started. By the grace of God, I completed at least four New Testament books. I am also grateful to God for enabling me to have more time in “Listening to the Lord” and more “Prayer Closet” moments. One word kept popping up to me is: “Change.” There are many areas in my life which requires “change”. I am assured and encouraged that my God is changing me. With God’s guidance and help, changes would gradually take place. One of the changes I started having is: “Listening to the Lord.” I have learnt to be quiet before the Lord so as to listen to what He is speaking to me. I have tried not to anyhow share/send text messages to people because people might not like them without informing me. This is one of the changes which I have tried to do recently. Speak where necessary! Share when necessary! Always cultivate a prayerful spirit. It requires a lot of discipline in terms of maintaining a certain posture. God is doing His changing work in me! I am grateful to God for His people who are praying for me and encouraging me.
I pray that I will always have a grateful, thankful heart, rejoicing in what God is doing in my life and my prayer for you is that you too will develop such a heart: a grateful, thankful heart, bringing glory to God!