For some people, "not speaking" is very hard, especially when they see their dear friends and loved ones participating in activities and filling their minds and lives with things that grieve the Lord.
Now, I am not perfect-far from it. However, I was reading 2 Timothy this morning and the teens I work with sprang to mind. 2 Timothy 2:19-21 says, "Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And, let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
"If a man therefore purge (clean) himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet (appropriate) for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
I love our teens (and their families!) so much, and desperately want God to use them mightily in this world!! I often listen to and counsel teens who are at a loss as to why God isn't using them, or can't feel His presence in their lives.
Now I ask, if I were to take a clean glass, and scoop the contents of a used toilet bowl into it, would you want a drink? What if I wiped it out first? Would you enjoy using it?
My friends, THAT is EXACTLY what we are asking the Holy Spirit to do. We attend films and watch shows that CLEARLY dishonor God, (and the temple in which we have ASKED Him to make His home). We fill our minds with ungodly content, and our eyes with worldly images, and then ask Him to bless. We are asking a Holy God, the purest Being, to dwell in and USE a vessel (us) that is DIRTY.
Paul admonished young Timothy, that as a believer, we are to depart (leave, stop doing) iniquity (sin). He likens our bodies, to vessels to be used. But sometimes we use them to dishonor. Verse 21 tells us PLAINLY that a dirty vessel CANNOT be used appropriately for God's work. Prepared to every good work, Paul says.
"Why isn't God using me?" Are you ready to be used by the Lord?
"Why do I feel like God is so far away?" Would you want to fellowship with a poo-lined glass?
Let's all take a moment and reflect on our purpose here in this world. Ask God to help you make better choices. Stop filling your mind with ungodly entertainment. ADULTS need to remember this too, because WE are to be examples.
Now I am SURE that this post will offend some (who isn't offended at least 20x a day anymore??) but I really don't care. For those who have gotten this far, and have read this post, may it be known that I am NOT judging anyone. I need to bring myself to the Lord daily and be cleaned and refreshed so He can use me.
Friends, PLEASE purpose in your heart to be clean. Fathers and husbands, LEAD your family in the ways of righteousness! Your kids NEED YOU!! Parents, KNOW what your kids are up too, and with what (and WHO) they are filling their lives. Teens, MAKE that choice to NOT go to that film even though other Christ followers are, NOT to participate in slandering others, NOT to share that joke.
I love you,
Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4:24
Stephen grew up in a rough part of East London and fell into crime by the age of ten. He said, “If everyone’s selling drugs and doing robberies and fraud, then you’re going to get involved. It’s just a way of life.” But when he was twenty, he had a dream that changed him: “I heard God saying, Stephen, you’re going to prison for murder.” This vivid dream served as a warning, and he turned to God and received Jesus as his Savior—and the Holy Spirit transformed his life.
Stephen set up an organization that teaches inner-city kids discipline, morality, and respect through sports. He credits God with the success he has seen as he prays with and trains the kids. “Rebuilding misguided dreams,” he says.
In pursuing God and leaving behind our past, we—like Stephen—follow Paul’s charge to the Ephesians to embrace a new way of life. Although our old self is “corrupted by its deceitful desires,” we can daily seek to “put on the new self” that’s created to be like God (Ephesians 4:22, 24). All believers embrace this continual process as we ask God through His Holy Spirit to make us more like Him.
Stephen said, “Faith was a crucial foundation for me changing my life around.” How has this been true for you?
Ancient Jewish Marriage
Marriage in ancient times was a negotiated match involving an agreement on conditions and payment of a bridal price.
In biblical times, people were married in early youth, and marriages were usually contracted within the narrow circle of the clan and the family. It was undesirable to marry a woman from a foreign clan, lest she introduce foreign beliefs and practices.
Negotiating a MatchAs a rule, the fathers arranged the match. The girl was consulted, but the “calling of the damsel and inquiring at her mouth” after the conclusion of all negotiations was merely a formality.
In those days a father was more concerned about the marriage of his sons than about the marriage of his daughters. No expense was involved in marrying off a daughter. The father received a dowry for his daughter whereas he had to give a dowry to the prospective father-in-law of his son when marrying him off.
The price paid by the father of the groom to the father of the bride was called mohar. (The term continues to be included in the text of the traditional ketubah, or Jewish wedding contract.) In Genesis, (Parashat Vayishlah), Shekhem [Dinah’s suitor] said to Dinah’s father and her brothers: “Let me find favor in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give. Ask me never so much mohar and mattan, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me; but give me the damsel to wife.”
“Mattan” was the Hebrew word for the gifts given by the groom to the bride in addition to the mohar.
The mohar was not always paid in cash. Sometimes it was paid in kind, or in service. The Book of Genesis relates the story of the servant of Abraham, who, after his request for Rebecca [to marry Isaac] was granted, “brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebecca; he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.” The servant thus gave mattan to Rebecca, and mohar to her brother and mother.
The Bible does not specify what was to be done with the mohar in case the marriage agreement was broken by either of the two parties.
Mohar as Purchase and GiftThe mohar was originally the purchase price of the bride, and it is therefore understandable why it was paid by the father of the groom to the father of the bride. In ancient days, marriage was not an agreement between two individuals, but between two families.
The newly married man usually did not find a new home for himself but occupied a nook in his father’s house. The family of the groom gained, and the family of the bride lost, a valuable member who helped with all household tasks. It was reasonable, therefore, that the father of the groom should pay the father of the bride the equivalent of her value as a useful member of the family.
Yet in the course of time the mohar lost its original meaning as a purchase price paid to the father for his daughter and assumed the significance of a gift to the near relatives of the bride. As far back as in early biblical times, it was customary for a good father to give the whole of the mohar or at least a large part of it to his daughter. A father who appropriated the whole mohar for himself was considered unkind and harsh.
The portion of the mohar which the bride received from her father, and the mattan, which the groom presented to her, were not the only possessions she brought to matrimony. A rich father sometimes gave his daughter a field or other landed property as well as female slaves.
Betrothal and the WeddingUntil late in the Middle Ages, marriage consisted of two ceremonies that were marked by celebrations at two separate times, with an interval between. First came the betrothal [erusin]; and later, the wedding [nissuin]. At the betrothal the woman was legally married, although she still remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed. The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colorful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated.
This division of marriage into two separate events originated in very ancient times when marriage was a purchase, both in its outward form and in its inner meaning. Woman was not recognized as a person but was bought in marriage, like chattel.
Marriage, as with any type of purchase, consisted of two acts. First, the price was paid, and an agreement reached on the conditions of sale. Sometime later the purchaser took possession of the object. In marriage, the mohar was paid and a detailed agreement reached between the families of the bride and groom. This betrothal was followed by the wedding, when the bride was brought into the home of the groom, who took actual possession of her.
In those days the betrothal was the more important of these two events and maintained its importance as long as marriage was actually based upon a purchase. But as women assumed more importance as individuals, and marriage ceased to be a purchase, attaining moral significance, the actual wedding became more important than the betrothal.
A New Attitude Toward WomenDuring biblical times, even before the Babylonian exile, Jewish life evolved and changed in many ways, including the attitude toward women. Over time, women came to be regarded as endowed with personalities just as were men.
Even as far back as early biblical times, we find traces of a new moral attitude towards women. For instance, although a man was legally allowed to marry more than one wife, barring kings and princes, very few used this right. As a rule, the ordinary Jew lived in monogamous marriage. [However, as history progressed, monogamy has been observed predominantly by Ashkenazic Jews, following the ban on polygamy in about the 10th century by Rabbenu Gershom, Meor Ha-Golah (the Light of the Diaspora). In Sephardic communities polygamy has never been outlawed, and several sources relate that Christians in Muslim Spain were scandalized by the not infrequent cases of Jewish polygamy.]
An Ancient Marriage RecordAt the beginning of the 20th century, an actual Jewish marriage record during the period of the return from the Babylonian exile was discovered — the oldest marriage contract in Jewish history. The marriage did not take place in Palestine or among the exiles in Babylon, but among the Jews of Elephantine and Aswan, at the southern border of Egypt.
The marriage contract of Mibtachiah [the bride] and As-Hor [the groom] began with a declaration of marriage by As-Hor to Mibtachiah’s father. “I came to thy house for thee to give me thy daughter, Mibtachiah, to wife; she is my wife and I am her husband from this day and forever.”
Following this declaration of betrothal, all terms of the marriage contract were written in detail. As-Hor paid Machseiah, the father, five shekels, Persian standard, as a mohar for his daughter. Besides, Mibtachiah received a gift of 65 1/2 shekels from As-Hor. From this we gather that the mohar that fathers received for their daughters was then merely a nominal payment, the formality of an older custom.
According to the marriage contract, Mibtachiah had equal rights with her husband. She had her own property which she could bequeath as she pleased, and she had the right to pronounce a sentence of divorce against As-Hor, even as he had the right to pronounce it against her. All she had to do was to appear before the court of the community and declare that she had developed an aversion to As-Hor. We do not know to what degree the equality of rights enjoyed by Jewish women of Elephantine was due to Jewish or to Persian-Babylonian law.
In many points of content and form, Mibtachiah’s marriage contract resembles the version of the ketubah (wedding contract) still in vogue in modern Jewish life.
In references to marriage throughout the Bible, the mohar was paid and gifts presented, but a written contract was never mentioned. However, the Book of Deuteronomy specifically states that if a man dislikes his wife, “he writes her a bill of divorcement and gives it in her hand” (24: 3). Modern critics of the Bible have agreed that on the whole, the Deuteronomic law is a product of the century preceding the Babylonian exile. If a written document was employed at that period in dissolving a marriage, we have to assume that it was also employed in contracting a marriage.
A Divorce PenaltyThe mohar institution was entirely transformed during late-biblical and post-biblical times. From a bridal price it finally became a lien to be paid by the husband in case of divorce, or by his heirs in case of his death.
The change in the mohar institution was a direct result of changes in the material conditions of life. In the simple conditions of early biblical days, all sons and daughters married young. No one stayed single.
The situation changes, however, in conditions reflected in the wisdom book of Ben-Sira, written not long before the uprising of the Maccabees. Apparently, bachelorship, common among Jews in Talmudic times, had its beginnings in pre-Maccabean days. Economic conditions were such that men hesitated to shoulder the responsibility of matrimony. It was not unusual for women to support the men they married.
Under these conditions there was no place for the old mohar institution. Fathers no longer expected any material gain from their daughters’ marriages. On the contrary, fathers often gave rich dowries to daughters as an inducement to marriageable men.
Yet the mohar institution did not pass out of existence. It was reformed intermittently in the course of this period, adapting itself to new circumstances. The first stage in this process was to make the bride’s father a mere trustee of the mohar. The money was then inherited ultimately either by the husband or by his children. This reform availed little, so the husband himself was made the trustee of the money, which was employed to buy household articles.
The last step in the reform of the mohar institution was made by Simeon ben Shatach, head of the Pharisees, who were the ruling party in the state during the reign of the Maccabean queen, Salome Alexandra (76-67 B.C.E.). He declared that the mohar, which was ordinarily 200 silver dinars for a girl, and 100 for a widow, should merely be written in the ketubah , the marriage deed, as a lien of the wife on the estate of her husband, to be paid to her only if he divorced her, or at his death!
This reform served two humane purposes. It made marriage easier, and divorce more difficult. A man did not need 200 dinars in cash in order to marry a girl, but he needed this amount if he wanted to divorce her. The ketubah thus protected the woman from being arbitrarily divorced by her husband.
Fathers have always been deemed as important for children but what is the importance of good Christian fathers for their children? What critical differences can they make?
Is a Generation Cursed Without a Father?John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah although he was not Elijah. Jesus spoke about John saying that “this is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.“ (Matt 3:3) “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matt 11:14). Jesus even seemed to tie in the hearts of the children to that of their fathers saying that “he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared“ (Luke 1:17). Malachi predicted this in writing, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with utter destruction.”(Mal 4:5-6). Now why does it say that the land will be struck with “utter destruction” if the “hearts of the fathers” are not turned to their children? Is there a connection between curses and the negligence of fathers?
When Fathers are AbsentIs there evidence that when a father is missing from a family that the children have greater difficulty at home? Absolutely! Here is why I can say that. From a study done by the Department of Health and Human Services in 1996, the results of which are astounding, we read what happens when the father is absent from the home. If you’re wanting to be a good father, consider how critical it is for you to be present in the home or if the father lives in the home, to be available. The facts above were provided by the Department of Health and Human Services from 1996 and so these statistics may be even worse today. These were just the last statistics available.
When a father is missing in the home or missing from a home, the home is at risk for life-changing, life-altering, life-shattering experiences that impact a child throughout their entire lifetime. Even more tragic is that these cycles repeat themselves when these children grow into adulthood and have children of their own. Maybe the reason the say history repeats itself is because we are not learning from it.
Christian Fathers Begat Christian Children
There is overwhelming evidence that when a Christian father attends worship service on a regular basis, the rest of the family follows. A 2000 study found that when both fathers and mothers attended church regularly, about 41% of the children would go to church when they reach an adult stage. Amazingly, when the father attends church on an irregular basis, 60% of the children reaching adulthood will be irregular attendees or drop out all together. When the father doesn’t ever attend church, only 2% of children that grow into adulthood will attend church with nearly none of them ever becoming Christian. When this same equation is with the mother, the numbers are not nearly as drastic. The conclusion is that fathers have the greatest influence on their children’s lives and have the most impact on their becoming a Christian and attending church regularly as adults.
What this shows is that when the father takes the church and Christianity seriously, almost all of his children will too. When he doesn’t care about Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the church, then the overwhelming majority of his children won’t either. This shows you the critical importance of a godly father. This doesn’t only show you the importance of role modeling but of the father being the spiritual head of the family. His position is likened to that of the high priest in the Old Testament. As the priest lives and performs his duties and takes them seriously – without hypocrisy or duplicity – so too does the family. You simply can not fool children. A superb example of that is when Aaron’s son’s brought a “strange fire” before the Lord in the temple and took the performance of their priestly duties too casually (Lev 10). Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were struck dead and the worship of the entire nation was negatively impacted.
The importance of children coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ can be broken down like this:
Father’s can break the cycle of negligence in their families and keep family history from repeating itself. So many fathers are “missing in action” that we are causing our children to be placed under a curse. Maybe that’s why Malachi wrote, “he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” (Mal 4:6). Let me add some emphasis and paraphrase this verse in case we miss God’s point; unless the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children the hearts of the children can not be turned to their fathers. And, unless the hearts of the fathers do turn to their children, God says that he will “strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” How can this be? Is this possible? Does He mean…strike all of the land? Yes! God is giving us fathers a serious warning here just like he tried to warn Aaron about his sons offering strange fire. I am not belittling the mothers impact of course but God has placed fathers in the position of having the greatest influence in their children’s spiritual lives and into adulthood. He will hold us responsible. We can actually bring a curse down on our family (so to speak) by our negligence and our absence. And as any sociologist will tell you, as the family goes, so goes society…and the nation. Now maybe God’s warning that He will “strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” makes more sense, for as the family goes…so goes the nation.
This article was by Jack Welman from patheos.com. It can be found here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2013/07/29/the-importance-of-good-christian-fathers/
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(taken from Our Daily Bread)
An Overview of Job
We know that God is loving and all-powerful. We know He has the power to heal us and take away our suffering, and we know He loves us. Still, we suffer, and we wonder why God doesn’t take us out of our suffering. We wonder why He leaves us in our pain. Doesn’t He care? Has He forgotten us? Has He turned His back on us?
That the Bible's central message is atonement, that is, that God has provided a way for humankind to come back into harmonious relation with him, is everywhere apparent in Scripture. From the first stories in Genesis to the last visions of Revelation, God seeks to reconcile his people to himself. Atonement, however, cannot be usefully discussed in this way, and translators have settled on it, and its cognate expressions, as a translation for a relatively circumscribed number of nouns and verbs in the Bible.
The Old Testament
In the Old Testament atonement, and related phrases, such as sacrifice of atonement, most often translates the Hebrew piel verb kipur [ruPiK] and two related nouns, one, kippurim, found always in the plural and signifying the noun equivalent of kipur [ruPiK], and the other, kapporeth [t,roP;K], meaning the so-called mercy-seat or the place where the sacrifice of atonement happens. These occur with meanings related to atonement around 140 times, almost always in the context of the cults, as a sacrifice for sins and to provide reconciliation to God.
The breadth of the use of the concept in the Old Testament is striking. Atonement is provided for inanimate objects such as a mildewing house, the altar in the temple, the sanctuary (i.e., the Holy of Holies within the Tent of Meeting), the holy place, and the tent of meeting/temple itself. In one place atonement is also provided for an animal, the scapegoat used in the atonement rituals found in Leviticus 16. Sacrifice accomplishes atonement "for sins" in many places, though these passages always mean atonement for people "because of" their sins rather than atonement "on behalf of" sins, as if sins were being personified and therefore in need of redemption. Of course, the majority of all the references are to atonement on behalf of people, either individually or as members of the community of Israel.
Atonement for inanimate objects is found twelve places in the Old Testament: ex 29:36-37; 30:10; le 8:15; 14:53; 16:10, 16, 18, 20; eze 43:20, 26; 45:20. Eleven of these passages refer to cleansing either the tent/temple, one of its rooms, or the altar inside it. The lone exception refers to the cleansing of a contaminated house. In one of the stranger passages of the Law, God instructs Moses and Aaron about the purification rites they are to apply to a house that has "a spreading mildew" and declares that, if a house responds to the treatment, then it can be declared clean ( Lev 14:33-53 ). The priest cleanses the house by sacrificing a bird, and dipping cedar wood, hyssop, scarlet yarn, and a live bird in the blood of the dead bird, then sprinkling the blood on the house seven times. He then is to release the live bird into the open fields outside the town. "In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean" ( Lev 14:53 ).
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. --Luke 5:32
A local newspaper carried an article about my work of helping drug addicts. Later, the paper published this letter: “I commend Mrs. Yoder for trying to help drug addicts, but sadly, she is dealing with a problem that shouldn’t be there in the first place.” That’s true, but it’s no use saying it shouldn’t be there—it already is!
Sin shouldn’t be here at all. Yet God anticipated our sin and prepared a perfect sacrifice—”the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). In Romans 5:8, Paul emphasized that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
No matter what circumstances drive us to God, He won’t deride us for honestly seeking His deliverance from our most regrettable sins. Jesus insisted that He came into the world for this very reason, not to “call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32). When we repent, we not only admit our wrongs, but we willingly turn from them and open ourselves to God’s transforming power.
Repentance is necessary to enter into a relationship with Christ. Daily repentance is necessary to stay in close fellowship with Him and to grow spiritually. Both lead us to the fountain of God’s forgiveness and His life-changing power. -J. Yoder
Which repentance do you need today?
Devon Still grew up in a tough neighborhood in Wilmington, DE. There were temptations and dangers all around him. Unfortunately, a number of his friends and acquaintances didn’t make it out. They either had trouble with the law or worse, ended up dead. Surviving that type of environment took several acts of grace, but it also required an inner strength. It was a fortitude that was passed onto him by two parents who both protected and equipped him for life. The resolve they imparted lead him to avoid trouble, get a college scholarship, and have a successful football career that allowed him to make it all the way to the NFL. That same inner strength was especially needed when he faced the hardest challenge a parent can go through. He shares in his new book, Still in the Game that when his daughter Leah was just four years old she was diagnosed with stage four cancer.
After surgery and a difficult stretch of chemo, his daughter Leah is doing well today. But in order to be a source of support for a daughter fighting for her life, let alone persevering through the heart-wrenching experience as a parent, Devon drew on that inner strength given to him by his parents. I identified 5 things they did that helped to instill that power. If you apply these 5 things you will create an inner strength in your kids.
1. Be There For ThemOne of the most painful things in Devon Still’s life was his parent’s divorce. However, one of the things that saved him from the pitfalls of growing up in a rough place with parents that split was that his parents were a constant presence. His mom and dad invested in him with both their time and their money. Be there for your kids. Carve out time to play and have fun, but it is especially important to be there when times are hard. Kids need a source of stability in their lives and most of that depends on the parents. The best way to do that is to be a consistent and powerful presence, physically and mentally.
2. Discipline ThemWhen Devon and his siblings stepped out of line, they were disciplined, especially by their father. Having clear boundaries and holding them when they are violated gives kids greater confidence. Again, it makes their world seem more secure. Being disciplined, when done with love, will give your kids greater self-discipline in the future. Being inconsistent or lacking borders will make a child feel like a helium balloon blowing the breeze.
3. Give Them ResponsibilityIf your kids aren’t given any responsibility they will never learn how to be responsible. Those muscles have to be formed and shaped in order for them to be dependable when they are needed. Give them age-appropriate chores and increase their responsibilities over time so they can handle more weight.
4. Shield ThemHaving grown up in a tough neighborhood, Devon’s parents knew there were things happening all around him that he wasn’t prepared to deal with, physically and emotionally. So they made him stay inside the house immediately after school. Protect your hearts and minds from subjects they aren’t ready for. Experiencing adult content before they have the maturity to make sense of it can cause confusion, instability, and in some cases, shame. All of that can lead to a lack of confidence and a weakened sense of self.
5. Let Them Experience ConsequencesWhen Devon was a child he stole a bike. The school ended up calling the police. Devon’s father took him to the police station where he spent the entire day in a jail cell. That day changed him forever. He never stole anything again. When our kids are young, allowing them to feel the consequences and pain of their actions enables them to make better decisions for the future.
Bonus: Nurture Their FaithThis is one that Devon’s grandmother passed onto him. She used to bring him to church, which at the time didn’t seem to make much of an impact. However, when Devon started to face situations far greater than himself he turned to God in prayer. Sooner or later we all face struggles, a sick child, an aging parent, financial difficulty, etc., and we will be desperate for help. My question is, why wait for the big things? Why not invite the God who created life into the daily life you and your kids are living? If He has the power and wisdom to influence our desperate moments, don’t you think He has answers and a perspective to add to your daily life as well? Wouldn’t that make all of us stronger?
What has made you strong in your life?
As the mother of 15- and 16-year-old daughters, I’m often puzzled by what my teens are thinking. In fact, several years ago my sullen and surly girls so perplexed me that I decided to study neuroscientific and psychological research on adolescence.
I discovered that adolescent brains are full of dramatic change, emotional upheaval and powerful neurochemical surges—not just hormonal, but whole-body altering adjustments!
Knowing what’s happening inside teens’ brains can help equip us to make better parenting decisions.
1. StressThey are stressed whether they look like it or not. But if others see they are stressed that means there is a problem. A problem means parents need to intervene and that means change and a lack of control. Listen a lot. Assume they are stressed and give them empathy and support. Giving your kid an ear and a hug is more powerful than your advice.
2. Going to Parties and Experimenting with Drugs and AlcoholYour child goes to parties or at least wants to. He or she needs to socialize and feel like they are part of the group. It’s not a revelation that there are drugs and alcohol at these parties. Teens are very different with their friends than they are with you. Kids you would never expect to be at the party, drink, or do drugs will surprise you. Assume the worst and talk to them about the risks.