A Core Problem with the Core Kids Ministry

By Dawn Hill


The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Charles Spurgeon

One of the greatest privileges and blessings I have as a parent is to share the gospel with my children and to have meaningful moments of Biblical discipleship. Though it is not always picture perfect, there have been numerous opportunities to talk about Jesus, the cross, sin, repentance, and eternal life. There have been conversations with our seven-year-old daughter about reading the Bible, the importance of prayer, the facets of worship, and life lessons with Scriptural application. I would not trade these moments for anything.

When my daughter was three years old, I can recall her laying on prayer requests during intercessory prayer gatherings, lifting her hands while listening to radical worship music, and marching around as my shadow while I paced back and forth in prophetic declarations. This was during our time in the hyper charismatic movement. Personal experience was elevated, and I have no doubt that she would have gone down the same path had it not altered course. Over the past several years, things turned out much different than what I had expected or anticipated, but the changes have been for the better. This is not to say that I discourage her from lifting her hands in worship to God or in praying for others. Rather, I encourage her to return to the Word of God as the final authority for understanding God’s ways and instruction while sharing our need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We never outgrow needing to hear the gospel.

I reflect on this in light of a children’s ministry called Core Kids, an offshoot from a women’s discipleship group, The Core Group. In order to be a Core Kid, the mother must be a member of The Core Group. I recently spent time watching some episodes directed towards children who are part of this group and the teachings being presented to the children. Some of these episodes have corresponding printable interactive workbook pages and journal pages covering topics such as breaking witchcraft and hearing a word from God. Monthly zoom meetings for these kids called Nights of Fire are held, and declarations that a children’s revival movement are being proclaimed in association with this group.

From what has been stated by the leader of the Core Group, the children are casting out demons, speaking in tongues, and rushing the stage to praise and to worship the Lord. They are laying on the platform crying and lifting their hands. They’re identified as being radical, and they are encouraged to lead now at their age, citing Isaiah 11:6 for confirmation.

When watching the teaching episodes for these children, I observed some things worth mentioning. I noted the teaching of the Law from the Old Testament without the presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In one of the videos dealing with breaking witchcraft, the children were told they were forgiven of their participation with things such as tarot cards, objects of witchcrafts, and horoscopes. Yet there was no call to repentance for sin, no mention of the cross and the need for redemption. In other words, there was no good news. The thought occurred to me that perhaps a young person watched this video and had no understanding of why the things mentioned were a sin against God. What if they did not even ask God to forgive them, but the leader is telling them they are forgiven without personal repentance? This gives a false assurance of salvation and reconciliation without true repentance.

Personal testimonies from the leader were shared without the gospel being presented. I understand that we can be encouraged by other’s stories and testimonies of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace. At the same time, we must acknowledge that our personal testimony is not the gospel. People are not saved by our personal testimony. They are saved by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). They are saved by hearing the proclamation of the gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the atonement of their sins.

The leader encouraged the children listening that they are to be “all in for God.” I wondered if the children knew what that meant, and if they believed “all in” meant having radical emotions and experiences. Does all in mean claims of casting out demons and prophesying? Does all in mean waving flags and jumping up and down with passion and enthusiasm? Does being all in mean that you blindly follow the leader without question? What happens to these young people when they feel nothing or the hype fades? Will they have lasting fruit testifying of Christ?

I am going to say some things that may spark frustration for those who disagree, and I mean no ill will or malice in saying these things. As a mother, I am thankful my daughter is no longer in this type of environment with this type of influence. Though I was not part of the Core Group, I was associated with similar beliefs and practices. As a mother, it saddens me to hear children hearing the Law apart from the gospel. Yes, our children need to understand the Law of God found in Scripture because they are sinners. Our children are not saved because we take them to church. They are born again when they receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. From there, they need proper Biblical discipleship within the church and within the home.

As adults, we need to understand the Law because it places a mirror before our face to show us our need for Christ. Having said that, if all one hears is the Law, then all one hears is legalism. You and I and our children need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, without apology and without compromise. This is the good news to the bad news of being a Law breaker. Our children are not someone else’s deliverer. Our children need to know the true Deliverer and as believers, they are to testify of Him for salvation of souls. Those who have been truly delivered by Christ Jesus from the domain of darkness will desire to walk in God’s ways and to obey His Word, not out of obligation but out of love for God.

My concern in these types of movements is that a superhero mentality is created to claim power and authority leading to pride, while using the name of Jesus for validation of the message. My concern is that emotional hype and experience are elevated and used as the litmus test for true passion for God, and those who are not as radical are called spiritually dead. My concern is that false converts are being manufactured, an eternal consequence that is too important not to voice these concerns. At the core of our Christian faith is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and though I hope my daughter unashamedly lifts her hands to God when meditating on His goodness and holiness, raised hands and outward expressions of zeal without knowledge will not mark her as a believer. That work lies in the power of God and the finished work of Christ on the cross, and that is sufficient.

Listen to this episode of The Lovesick Scribe podcast, discussing this topic in more detail: The Lovesick Scribe Podcast: A Core Problem with the Core Kids Ministry on Apple Podcasts.


Ladies Gave The First Resurrection Message

By: Brother Sam Waddell

MATTHEW 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. –5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Comments: Luke wrote: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other woman, Luke 24:10. (NKJV Matthew 28:1-10 and Luke 24:10).

These ladies were the first to see JESUS RESURRECTED.  Why? Because they were the first ones there! JESUS loves all His followers the same, no matter the gifts or calling, but it is the ones who SEEK HIM FIRST who find Him. As James wrote: ” Draw near unto God and He will draw near unto you.” James 4:8 NKJV

REMEMBER, it is the ones who are there, when GOD MOVES, that get the BLESSING. Not the ones hiding away, or in bed with a hangover, or at the river fishing. If we want God, as Believers, we must pursue Him diligently and if we are lost sinners, we must repent, call on JESUS, to save us, and believe in Him, in our hearts, then pursue Him diligently. These ladies were first to the empty tomb. Then, JESUS appeared to them and sent them to tell the other Disciples, who weren’t there. Verse 9 “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So, they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.

Comments: JESUS always has a call and a mission for us. He sent these ladies to ANNOUNCE, to the other Disciple, that He had RISEN from the dead and that He would meet them in Galilee. All believers are called to ANNOUNCE THAT JESUS IS RISEN AND ALIVE AND HE RULES AND REIGNS FOREVERMORE. So go with JOY, like these ladies, and tell all those you know in this world, JESUS is alive and will meet them. If them turn around and COME TO HIM.

Brother Sam Waddell was a missionary in Africa and other parts of the world. He holds a M.Div. Theology, Missions and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary.


Life in the Blood

By Fran Gardner Mora

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22

Have you ever watched an animal sacrifice scene in a historical documentary or show and marveled at just how horribly pagan and offensive the ritual was – and then thought, “These people were barbaric! What kind of god would …”

… And then you’re tracking along through Exodus and Leviticus and [insert the sound of screeching tires here] you come right up into chapters of scripture that detail the exact order of events when offering sacrifices to our God – and they include animal slaughter, catching blood in bowls, and sprinkling people and surfaces with the blood!

Because of my love for understanding God’s Word and my analytical nature, I found myself doing a deep dive into the possible answers to the question, “Why?” I didn’t hit the Internet or check the commentaries because I wanted the Holy Spirit to place His illumination on the subject.

I saw that the blood was sprinkled on people and smeared on specific parts of the body (ears, thumbs, big toes, etc.), which means that the blood of the sacrificial animal would have, undoubtedly, gotten on their clothes. Also, when men brought animals to be sacrificed, they had to slaughter them at the place where they burnt the offerings, which was a messy task! At this time in history, clothes were not washed very often, so these people would have walked around for days, or maybe weeks, with the stains – and the smell – of the blood on their person. Very disgusting! The priests, however, were told to wash their garments if they got blood on them.

Scripture also tells us that life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:14). But once the blood leaves the body, life leaves the blood, and it becomes putrid. So, sin causes this cycle of death and waste that destroys both the innocent and the innocence. In the sequence of events that were prescribed for sacrificial atonement, it seems that God wanted us to be conscious of His blood covenant with us. But, perhaps God was also demonstrating that atonement for sin is very costly and that we should bear the smell of the sacrifice in our nostrils as a reminder that life is sacred. It’s no small thing for one life to be slain for another, whether it’s a full-growth bull or a tiny dove.

But Jesus ended the requirement of wearing the stench and shame of our own sin. By pouring out His righteous and precious blood and taking the cup of the sins of humanity, He placed the seal of redemption on us and gave us the only way back into the Fathers holy presence. His blood carries eternal life, washes away all other blood and guilt, and restores our purity and innocence. We are free to hope because we are validated by this new covenant and not bound by lies. We are free to love because we can move in the graciousness of God and not be bound by fear. We can live to the fullest because we can drink from the flow of living water and not be limited by thirst.

Oh, Jesus, I love you. The only thing that I can ever do to thank you for my salvation is to serve You by humbly serving others, to honor You by being a reflection of You to those around me, and to glorify You by making Your influence over my life known. Holy Spirit, help me to do this well. Increase my measures of faith and perseverance, place before me anointed opportunities, and breathe into me a mighty, fresh wind. Amen.

And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:24


January 6th Two Years Later

By: Jeff Sutherland

Two years ago, on January 6th congress was counting electoral votes to decide the election. There has been over 1000 lawsuits brought against the votes claiming fraud and despite that, these were ignored, and Biden was elected President.

Uncountable millions of hours on media and social media have backed that President Trump incited an insurrection, calling people to kill and destroy our democracy. But in reality, our democracy is a constitutional republic where the winner of the electoral college in each state ultimately decides the outcome of the election and congress approves the vote.

A committee was formed to look into the happenings on that day but only those who hated Trump were allowed to be on the committee. When one side or other controls the media, education, congress, and the Presidency, where it is considered almost unlawful to discuss anything, we are turning Marxist in our government thinking. The first amendment is being butchered.

While in college I ran around with the people in the Debate Club. At the time they were discussing nuclear armament. You would get up and argue for disarmament then thirty minutes later you were required to argue for armament. Imagine if school was still taught this way where both sides are exposed, discussed and thought through rather than just decided that your side is right and everyone who doesn’t believe that is wrong. Even if you are right and the other side is wrong, we can be civil and discuss the issues. This has not happened.

One side hates Trump and will do anything to make sure he is never able to run for President again. The other side believes that Biden has done well, heading our country in the right direction, determined to shut up the right and their thinking.

In the founding of our country, over the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, there was much debate that lasted for months. However, there was one agreement, a general consensus that no matter what direction we took as a country, that God, not government was the giver of our rights. This thinking lasted well into the 20th century where President Eisenhower began his inaugural address with a prayer to God that we would continue to look to Him for answers, for security and that He would lead and guide us as a country of believers. January 20, 1953. He was a general in world war two and was determined to keep our country focused not on arguing with the other side but focusing together on our walk with the Lord. He is the one who added “one nation, under God” in our pledge of allegiance. He determined to put, ‘in God we trust’ on our money. He was not considered a radical but a man who wanted to continue to lead this country as our founding fathers did, focusing on putting God first in everything.

Everything about January 6th 2021flies in the face of this thinking. It is a small tip of a huge iceberg headed right at our capitol. This isn’t even about politics, there is a much deeper more sinister root to this malodorous bloom that started in the 20th century.

But how do we fix the problem? As a former landscaper, I can tell you that if the real problem is in the roots of a plant, you will never fix it by pruning, fertilizing, or doing anything to the top of the plant. Our country wants to focus on everything but the roots.

There is a great example in the Bible of how to deal with problems. It is found in John 8.

 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple area, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began teaching them. Now the scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in the act of adultery, and after placing her in the center of the courtyard, they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” Now they were saying this to test Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. When they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Now when they heard this, they began leaving, one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman where she was, in the center of the courtyard. 10 And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on do not sin any longer.”

Consider the Pharisees. They thought it would be great to show Jesus this woman caught in sin. They may have thought that He would bless them for exposing this ‘evil’ woman. He didn’t. His statement hit right at the heart of the problem. He who is without sin, cast the first stone. None did. Jesus is the only one who could have but He didn’t either. He simply told her to go and sin no more.

This small teaching, if applied to January 6, our government and those involved, would simply realize our own sin, drop the stones we are ready to throw at others we could make a huge repentant turn across this whole country.

HOME | Fortmorgan (fortmorganministries.com)

Resurrection is Coming

By: Tresa Walker

Think about that feeling of waiting expectantly for something. Christmas and birthdays as a child, your wedding day, the birth of a baby, a long anticipated visit or trip, milestone birthdays (maybe when you were younger, now you probably dread those big birthdays). Most of the time, our wait is a few short weeks, months or maybe even years. But there is coming a day that Christians have awaited for nearly 2,000 years! John 5:28-29 says, “A time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.” For believers, there is a glorious new life in our future that is much more than anything this earthly life can provide. The joy will far surpass anything we have anticipated here on earth, and it will be a joy that endures through eternity!

Easter is a time of celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but the events prior to the resurrection were heartbreaking for those who witnessed the events. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tortured, and then crucified on a rugged cross and died for all to see. The Gospels retell the details of these events leading to the death of Jesus.  After His death, His body was wrapped in linen cloth and placed in an empty tomb which was sealed with a heavy stone. The tomb was then secured by guards to ensure that no one could attempt to steal His body under cover of night and then falsely claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. But no stone or army of guards could have compromised God’s perfect plan!

On the third day, an angel appeared at the tomb and removed the stone causing the guards to collapse in shock.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to the tomb to anoint His body with burial spices, and the angel announced that Jesus had risen from the grave. The tomb was empty! Imagine the confusion the women must have felt. In Matthew 28:6, the angel said to the women, “He is not here! For he has been resurrected, just as he said.”

Just as He said! Jesus had predicted His own death and resurrection and tried to prepare His disciples for this moment on three different occasions. Matthew 16:21 says, “From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” Similar statements are also found in Matthew 17:23 and 20:18-19. This idea was completely incomprehensible to them, so they did not grasp the concept of resurrection and His future return.

The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christian belief. If Jesus had not resurrected from the grave, He would have simply been a great teacher. But He conquered death just as He predicted and as had been prophesied many times in the Old Testament 700 years prior to His crucifixion!  Jesus was truly the long awaited Messiah, the Savior of the World which was precisely who He claimed to be! Everything prophesied had come to fruition. Everything believers of that time had trusted, shared, and held onto had become reality because death could not hold our Savior in the grave! And everything that we hope for today is irrevocable truth!

The story of Jesus did not end at the tomb. He arose victoriously from the grave! Therefore, the story of a Christian’s life doesn’t end at the grave either. This is confirmed in John 3:16-17 which says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” His resurrection changed everything! It finalizes God’s promise of eternal life for those who believe. If there had been no resurrection, there would be no basis for our belief as Christians.

After hearing from the angel that Jesus had been raised from the grave and seeing the empty tomb, the two women left full of joy and ran to tell the good news of the resurrection. Jesus then met them on the road, and they immediately fell at His feet in worship. What a moment! Their beloved Jesus was alive! He had conquered death and rose from the grave just as he claimed he would do!

His resurrection gives us confidence that there is more to our existence than just this earthly life of pain and sorrow. It gives us hope of everlasting life with the almighty God. It gives us assurance that what we hope for is real. The resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament and secured the promise that followers of Jesus would have everlasting life. John 11:25 states, “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.’”  Because Jesus is life, those who believe will be resurrected to new life with Him. Even when we die, death will not defeat believers; we will have eternal life. We will be raised to everlasting glory!

As Easter draws near, make time to reflect on the resurrection. Death did not win the victory. Jesus did! Reflect on the empty tomb that could not hold our Savior. Reflect on the witnesses who saw Him, touched Him, and worshiped Jesus in all His glory. Reflect on the love of a Savior who took onto himself every sin that you have ever committed and then suffered and died in your place so that you could have eternal life. Reflect on the promises of a resurrection to a new life in glory that we have been promised as believers. The resurrection for believers is coming! Until that day, worship Him, teach about Him so that others may believe, and faithfully wait with joy and anticipation for that day! What a day, glorious day that will be!


Will The Asbury Revival Transform America?

By: Stuart Kellogg

The revival that began during the regular February 8th chapel service at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY caught the imagination of not just the church, but the country as a whole.  For those unfamiliar with revivals, it was a strange occurrence, seeing young men and women for hours, days and eventually, more than two weeks, praying and worshipping.  (“Isn’t that supposed to be something you do once a week?”)  For the evangelical church it was a promise of an awakening within an increasingly secular and hostile culture.  We won’t know the real impact for years.  The question of whether it will go down as a localized experience, or the start of something much, much bigger will depend not on the thousands who were part of the outpouring.  It will depend on those of us who heard about it and then responded or did nothing.

Whether an awakening or revival, it was a powerful event that began with young Generation Z members and touched many more than those who witnessed it in person, including several residents.

Now, America is certainly no stranger to revivals, being part of world-wide awakenings since before we became a nation.    Some examples:  The First Great Awakening in the 1700s, The Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s, and the 1970 Asbury Revival which occurred at the beginning of the so-called Jesus Movement and is popularized in the current hit movie Jesus Revolution.

These large movements are a testament to the Holy Spirit moving among His people, and drawing in those thirsting for more than what the culture offers.  Dr. Timothy Tennent, president of Asbury Seminary (a separate school across the street from Asbury University), prefers to call the event an awakening.  It will be a revival, he believes, if something more permanent comes of it.  As he wrote on his blog, “It is first, last and foremost a tribute to the grace of God to reveal himself and to call a new generation to faithfulness at a time when we most needed it….However, a deeper look at this outpouring reveals that it has the same elements which are found in any authentic revival:  people repenting of their sins; people being filled with the Holy Spirit; men and women finding reconciliation with God and their neighbor; people capturing a renewed love for Jesus, the gospel and the Holy Scriptures.”

“The Presence of the Spirit”

A Baldwin County pastor, Dr. Barry Carpenter who leads Resurrection Church in Daphne AL., experienced the power with five others who travelled with him to Kentucky.  What made the time special?  “One word.  Presence.  That’s the word that captures me, captives me,” Dr. Carpenter told me.  “The presence of the spirit.  It was gentle.  There was no leader.  He was the leader.”

Started during chapel service February 8th and lasting 16 days, Asbury University president Dr. Kevin Brown told The Christian Post that 50,000 students and visitors came to the campus to pray from more than 260 colleges and universities.  Similar outpourings of prayer were reported at other colleges and universities across the country.

For Loxley, AL resident Tim Philpot, the revival was a reminder of the powerful work of the Spirit in 1970 at that Asbury Revival.  Tim was a freshman at the time.  The son of evangelist Ford Philpot, Tim was not a Christian.  He told me the revival 53 years ago transformed his life.  As he wrote on his blog when this awakening broke out, “About sixty hours into the revival, I knew it was my time. I located a friend and said, ‘I know you wont believe this, but I am not a Christian.’ She smiled and said, ‘Thats no surprise. Five of your friends are in the basement right now praying for you.’

As Tim witnessed the incredible moving of the Holy Spirit in February, he was taken back to his own earth-moving experience.  “This was my moment — one divine moment. I slithered to the altar, hoping no one would see me but also believing that this was the biggest moment of my life. And sure enough, it happened. I experienced God. I wrestled with God and He won.  He redeemed me. He washed me.  He healed me.”

The key, however, is not just the powerful experience, but the fruit of those awakenings.  For Tim, he wrote that the change was immediate.  “For starters, when I stood up from the altar, I loved people that I hated the day before.   I am thinking of two very specific young people. It was a juvenile eighteen-year-old teenager rivalry, but very real at the time.  Next, the incredible burden of sin was gone. It was like going from being a caddie carrying a 100-pound tour bag full of thirty clubs and junk up a hill to being the a tour playerwith God Himself on the bag, carrying all my burdens for me. Essentially, it is the freedom that comes from being forgiven!”

That encounter with Christ didn’t just change Tim, it’s changed the hundreds of lost souls touched around the world through his one-on-one discipleship and various ministries he’s been involved with and led for more than half a century.

Lasting Transformation?

As Dr. Tennent from Asbury Seminary wrote, “Only if we see lasting transformation which shakes the comfortable foundations of the church and truly brings us all to a new and deeper place can we look back, in hindsight and say ‘yes, this has been a revival.’”

What is your church doing in the wake of this outpouring?  What are we doing individually?  If we simply cheer and go back to our everyday lives—-a little bit of Jesus mixed with a lot of other stuff—-odds are there will be little fruit.  If, however, Christ followers become more engaged with Christ, listening, and obeying the work of the Holy Spirit, well, watch out world!

The fruit of those earlier revivals, or awakenings, is obvious.  Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter wrote The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, and noted that each  movement had a lasting impact because of major changes in the church and the culture.   “The First Great Awakening in England, for example, resulted in Sunday school and educational reform, changes to labor and child welfare laws, significant prison reforms, and the abolition of slavery,” they wrote.  “During the Welsh Revival, the culture was so transformed that new mules had to be secured to work in the coal mines: The old mules wouldn’tt respond to miners who no longer cursed and abused the animals! In these and many other ways, revivals in England, America, and other nations have historically shaped those societies into more Christian communities.”

The Second Great Awakening birthed many great evangelistic organizations, such as the Baptist Missionary society, along with the modern missionary and Sunday school movements.   Calvary Chapel is credited with planting more than 1400 churches in the wake of the Jesus Movement of the late 60s and early 70s that began at that small church.

In other words, there was no “going back to normal.”  It was a wonderful new normal, with a revived church plus many, many new followers.  You know what term didn’t rule the day after these revivals?  “We’ve never done that before!”

Will the awakening/revival at Asbury University be more than a fondly remembered event in a year or two?  It all depends on us.  There has never been a greater need for Christ and what He can do to heal the wounds, repair relationships, and lead a country full of sinners to repentance and a new life.  What are we willing to do to make that revival a reality?

Stuart Kellogg, author of The Post Covid Church: An Action Plan to Thrive Not Just Survive ( amazon.com) is host of What Now? The Post Covid Church Podcast, available on your favorite podcast platform.  (Contact: stuart@thepostcovidchurch.org)

What Real Love looks like

What real love looks like…

By: Jeff Sutherland

I almost walked out of church last night. One of my favorite pastors started speaking and asked if we remembered Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, and a few people in the congregation were quick to google and share what Maslow taught. At this point I was getting angry. This is supposed to be church not psychology class.

But quickly our pastor asked, where is God in that pyramid? And he wondered what our needs pyramid should look like if God is the center of our life. At that point not only did I want to stay and hear what he had to say but I wanted to create a ‘God’s hierarchy of our needs pyramid’.

In Maslow’s pyramid and in the world’s view love is all about ME. Most people only think about love being the good things that happen to me but the Bible stands this whole idea on its head. Consider being sold into slavery, false accusations, imprisonment and other horrible things that happened to Joseph yet in the end he was able to say, ‘you meant it for evil but God meant it for good’.

Consider 400 years of slavery for God’s chosen people followed by 40 years wondering in the wilderness before they made it to the promised land and only two of those original two million people actually crossed the Jordan into Israel.

And to see what real love looks like we only need to look at Jesus.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, anyparticipation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2


What real love looks like is not pleasing ourselves and getting what we want so we can move up the ladder toward self-actualization. God showed us the way. He did the opposite, He climbed down the ladder, all the way down. His focus was on our real needs, the only need that matters. Life. His death gave us life and He require those who believe Him to follow His example to die to self and live for others.

Ephesians 5 says to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies, and they shall become one flesh.

This totally destroys Maslow’s hierarchy. Life isn’t supposed to be about me and getting what I need, it is about following Christ’s example and dying to self and living for others.

Next time your pastor wants to make his sermon into a psychology lesson, walk out. Run from that church. I am so thankful for a man of God who preaches the Word. Those who follow Maslow sound a lot like the lesson plan for church last night in Proverbs 4.

Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15  Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

We can’t worship the world’s ways or worship self while putting God first. Quit trying to blend psychology and the Bible. Thank you pastor!

Below is Maslow’s pyramid. God provides our needs. If we are having trouble breathing, eating, sleeping He has a greater purpose. God is our security and if we lose a job, or a house He has a better purpose. If we show love, others may not show it back but we will grow in our love for God. Our achievement, our confidence, our status is based on what He has done for us, Godly esteem. Our potential rests not on our effort but on His.

This pyramid should be turned upside down and the cross should be the pinnacle and focus of our lives and others should see that in us.

That is what real love looks like.

Cynicism: An Enemy to Defeat

By: Donald Ward – Elder, United Church of God

Society has been trained to be cynical. No one trusts anyone else. We are continually reminded of our dishonesty. Leaders in virtually every institution you can name have had suspicion cast on their behavior. We have been taught to lampoon and poke fun at time-honored traditions and values. Nothing is sacred—everyone and everything is fair game for critical review. Unbridled criticism is the precursor of cynicism.

Are you cynical? Do you sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalms 1:1)? The Free Dictionarydefines cynicism as an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. One of the key words in the definition is the word “motive,” which can be defined as the reason and cause for one’s actions. The cynic believes that actions taken by organizations, and/or individuals are based on ulterior motives.

Is it any wonder that cynicism is one of the nation’s deadliest diseases?

Within the Church of God, we’ve had so many ups and downs in recent years that it would be easy to take up a seat with the scornful. But cynicism is a very insidious affliction and will result in eternal death unless we repent of it. For some people, cynicism is part of their being—their psychological make-up. They have a need to be cynical and critical in order to feel complete.

Cynicism is in fact a form of self-righteousness, in that the cynic always knows a better way. If the cynic were in charge, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The cynic criticizes and becomes bitter in his heart.

Respecting the Messenger

What would it take for you to become cynical and sit in the seat of the scornful? God’s Word says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1). The Hebrew word translated as “scornful” means to talk boastfully, to mock and to deride. It is the equivalent of cynical. God pronounces a blessing on the man that does not sit in the seat of the scornful—in the seat of the cynic.

But sadly, the pages of the Bible are filled with men who sat in the seat of the scornful and became cynical. God identifies these people in Jude’s epistle to the Church of God. “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, ‘to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’ These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage” (Jude 14-16).

One major reason people become cynical is because they perceive that there are double standards at work. Yet there will be double standards as long as humans are in the flesh. By contrast, there are no double standards with God. The standards of God and Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word of God do not change. He is faithful. With Him there is no variation nor shadow of turning (James 1:17).

Paul wrote, “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). In other words, the truth of God (the faithfulness of God) does not change because of the actions of men.

Will you let the actions or words of imperfect men take your crown? It’s a terrible irony that for a cynic, it is often the very person or situation they are cynical about who takes their crown. They become so cynical that they cannot separate the Word of God from the messenger. It can be easy to think that if the messenger is imperfect, it nullifies the message. Jesus’ detractors used this tactic against Him. They called him illegitimate and accused him of being demon-possessed.

But when the Word of God is spoken and you hear it, you had better take heed. Isaiah wrote down the proper view of His Word: “For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

You may not respect the messenger, but you had better respect the message—the Word of God. Cynicism toward the messenger can be forgiven if repented of, but to be cynical toward God’s message is to flirt with the unpardonable sin.

Respecting the Message

In each generation, people think that if God were to speak to them, they would listen. But when the Living Word was on the earth and speaking directly to them, they would not listen and take heed. Christ warned the cynical Pharisees to clean up their act—to stop trying to impute evil motives, to stop trying to trap Him (Matthew 23:29-33).

Time after time they came to Him with a statement, or a question filled with double meaning. “Master, we know,” or “the law says”; “show us a sign”; “by what power…” They were speaking cryptically, with hidden meanings. They spoke with nuance and innuendo, saying one thing, but meaning another. God’s warning against double talk is very clear: “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes,’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment” (James 5:12).

Love of God

Another reason people become cynics is because they have not developed a loving, sincere relationship with God and Jesus Christ. They allow the various ups and downs of organizations and men stand in their way. And sadly, oftentimes they are looking for an excuse to criticize and justify their actions. But we must never allow any excuse, reason, or cause to separate us from being faithful to our covenant relationship with God and Christ.

When you repent of your sins, are convicted of the truth by the Spirit and Word of God, are baptized, and exercise faith in the sacrifice of Christ for remission of sin, you enter into a covenant with God and Christ. You make the commitment to crucify the flesh and live by the Word of God. If you persevere and finish the race, a crown awaits you in the resurrection.

Cynicism’s Insidious Results

In the first chapter of Job, Satan comes before the throne of God. God asks Satan if he has considered His servant Job, who He says fears God and shuns evil. Satan replies: “Yes, Job fears God, but not without good reason!…But take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (Job 1:9, Job 1:11, New Living Translation). In other words, Satan cynically accuses Job of serving God because of ulterior motives.

Satan’s cynicism began long before the days of Job. He was at the very throne of God as the anointed cherub that covered (Ezekiel 28:14-17). He looked at his self-perceived importance, beauty and wisdom, and said in his heart that he shouldn’t play second fiddle to anyone in the universe. Revelation 12 reveals that he drew one third of the angels with him in his rebellion. Rebellion can be caused by dropping words of doubt and by becoming cynical and bitter.

After Cain murdered his brother because of jealousy, God asked him, “Where is your brother?” Cain cynically replied: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). But God clearly instructs throughout His word that we are our brother’s keeper. And we should love one another fervently with no ulterior motives. Note the words of the apostle Peter, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Cynicism Can Be Defeated

All the enemies of faith can be defeated. And every excuse for being cynical can be conquered. We can develop the same mindset that is in Jesus Christ. In fact, we are exhorted to have the same mindset as Jesus Christ and follow his example (Philippians 2:5).

Having the mind of Christ begins with examining ourselves in God’s spiritual mirror. We can hide the Word of God in our hearts and meditate on it. We can control our thought patterns and focus on the things that edify, exhort and comfort.

We can follow the admonition given by the apostle Paul, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).


 “Cynicism: An Enemy to Defeat” ©2023 United Church of God, an International Association



Neo-Paganism/Harry Potter/WICCA

By Rev. Clete Hux

Another area in which Christians have taken license is with the Harry Potter phenomenon. Through the vehicle of creative imagination and encouraging reading among the young, the Neo-Pagan and Wiccan worldviews have been on display in Potter films and books for a long time. By the way, did you know that in addition to Harry Potter merchandise, you can get Wicca & Witchcraft for Dummies at Walmart.com? That’s right, and not only this, you can get many other “how to” books on the same topics from this same retailer known as “America’s store.” (10) This alone should alert us not only to how prevalent occultism has become in our culture, but also to how enamored our culture has become with witchcraft.

As to whether or not Harry Potter stories promote witchcraft, there should be little doubt about it. Those trying to draw Christian parallels with the series seem to be straining to make a bona fide case. The very name Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ought to be a dead giveaway. What flows from J.K. Rowling’s books and movies, the number of which is unsurpassed in the area of children’s literature, is an occult worldview that has been glamorized and marketed specifically for children.

The proponents have said, “Oh, no! You’ve got it all wrong, Harry Potter is not real witchcraft, it’s fictional fantasy and Christian allegory!” If that is the case why use messages and symbols aligned with paganism and witchcraft rather than with Christianity? Using that which best aligns with paganism and witchcraft yet calling it Christian is nothing more than the baptism of paganism.

A warning sign to parents should be the vast number of pagan and witchcraft websites over the years that have promoted Harry Potter as representing occult practices and beliefs accurately. Consider a few of these endorsements:

“[The Harry Potter series], both as books and in movie form are a wonderful metaphor of how we, as witches/Wiccans/Pagans/Magical people, perceive our own spirituality/works/studies, and our vision of the world. The symbolism is so strong and I have found myself reacting so many times…positively, mostly thinking, “this is SO right!” Even, as I think Quirrell himself has said it so plainly…, ‘There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it…’ This might actually offend some, but it hides one of the great truths of Witchcraft, that there is no White or Black Magick, there is only Magick, and it is the use we make of it that defines its purpose, although we usually see a dark use of Magick as weakness, rather than strength.”(11)

“Sure you are seeing witches in Harry Potter…But it is positive. They are friendly. They are good. The book may change the way people feel about us.” (12)

“Harry Potter happens to be one of the best things for witchcraft, and the understanding of it.”(13)

Claiming to be Christian as Rowling does and claiming that Harry Potter has a Christian allegorical meaning, while at the same time promoting a worldview contrary to Christianity, defeats the purpose of any purported Christian message. Claiming to be Christian yet promoting a worldview hostile to Christianity is contradictory. We do not promote witchcraft in order to lead someone to Christ.  We do not promote something contrary to a Biblical worldview in order to promote a Biblical worldview.

While Rowling’s works can be considered fiction, they do not fit the fantasy genre. Some have likened Harry Potter to C.S. Lewis’ stories which are true fantasy. In Lewis’ stories, the setting is an alternate reality quite different from our own. Have you met any talking beavers or talking lions lately? Do people enter alternate realities through a wardrobe? Of course not, that is fantasy. However, in Harry Potter, the stories take place in our present reality. While Harry Potter may be fictional, actual occult practices are being performed by Harry, who was born a wizard from his witch mother and wizard father who also attended Hogwarts, a school very similar to the modern day boarding schools found in England. It is there that Harry, like his parents before him, is in training to learn sorcery, complete with the casting of spells, learning to use potions, rituals and divination, similar to those who participate in these practices today.

There are plenty more instances of reality-based sorcery illustrations including a real historical character, Nicholas Flamel, in the book and movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The students have conversations with the dead Flamel as he walks the halls of Hogwarts, endorsing necromancy, communication with the dead. Flamel was a French alchemist who supposedly succeeded in making the Philosopher’s Stone in the late 1300’s. Students of alchemy know that the Philosopher’s Stone is a metaphor for turning our base, physical natures into our more metaphysical self’s, attaining self-actualization with the Higher Self. This inner transformation supposedly produces everlasting life. (14)

While I do not endorse Catholicism, I do however, endorse Catholic writer, Michael O’Brien, for his excellent critique of Potter. He compares Rowling’s’ Potter world to being gnostic in essence and practice saying, “The wizard world is about the pursuit of power and esoteric knowledge, and in this sense it is a modern representation of Gnosticism, the cult that came close to undermining Christianity at its birth. The so-called “Christian Gnostics” of the 2nd century were in no way Christian, for they attempted to neutralize the incarnation and to distort the concept of salvation along traditional Gnostic lines: man saves himself by obtaining secret knowledge and power.”(15)

Using gnostic-like power as ideal magical power seems to be the modus operandi in Potter. O’Brien further states, “This is consistent with the author’s confused notions of authority. In reality, magic is an attempt to bypass the limitations of human nature and the authority of God, in order to obtain power over material creation and the will of others through manipulation of the supernatural. Magic is about taking control. It is the fundamental rejection of the divine order in creation. In the first book of Samuel ({1 Sam. 15:23}) divination is equated with the spirit of rebellion.”(16) I agree with O’Brien about this being a rejection of the fundamental order in divine creation. The occult/pagan/witchcraft worldview is an upside down world. One should get a sense of this from the beginning of Harry Potter. The natural has traded places with the superstitious, the normal for the abnormal. Witchcraft is portrayed as normal while the “real” or normal (the “muggle” world) is portrayed as abnormal.

Again, this is another example where intention does not change meaning. The problem that most Christians have in trying to Christianize Harry Potter may not be that they do not understand that the Bible speaks against witchcraft and sorcery. Their problem is twofold: They really do not understand witchcraft and they really do not understand the Biblical teaching against such pagan practices. It needs to be said that we are not given Biblical liberty to mimic forbidden practices. To be honest, this is where the church has failed. It is not enough to say “stay away from witchcraft” if believers do not understand what they are supposed to stay away from. It appears that believers have not been properly warned enough to “abstain from all forms of evil” or that light does not fellowship with darkness.


In closing, Yoga and Harry Potter are just two of many examples that fit the mold of the “Trojan Horse” that has been camping out in Christian circles for a number of years. In Part Two, we will look at the Enneagram craze and the Contemplative Prayer Movement, both of which are penetrating the church.

Scriptures both warn and encourage us to see things from a Biblical perspective. God, through the prophet Isaiah says, “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” (Isa. 55:8-9). Judges 21:25 tells us “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” Further, Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Against such warnings we are encouraged to “Trust in the LORD with all our hearts, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov.3:5-6).

It is easy to get off base when popular human opinion or experience has become the reference point for interpreting life instead of the scriptures being the only rule of faith and practice. Unfortunately, some are using the Bible as merely one rule and not the only rule of faith and practice. It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. But we are set free to do His will, not ours! Since we have been set free, we are to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:5).


1Rev. Clete Hux. Attempts to Secularize Yoga in Alabama Schools. https://1593137887-da8479395cd0c713.wp-transfer.sgvps.net/product/2020-spring-worldviews-newsletter/

2Dr Peter Jones. Confronting Neo-Paganism Part 1. https://truthxchange.com/2019/08/confronting-neo-paganism-part-1/

3Swami Param, New age yoga: Old age theft and surrender. The Costal News Group March 25, 2013. (internet article accessed at https://www.thecoastnews.com/new-age-yoga-old-age-theft-and-surrender/ )


4Alabama Administrative Code (AAC), Rule 290-040-040-.02, Certain Teaching Techniques, (1) d, e.


5see: www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/testing-prayer/201908/why-christian-yoga

6 Ibid

7 Hans Ulrich Rieker, The Yoga of Light: Hatha Yoga Pradipika, New York: Seabury Press, 1971, p. 101, ( cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 606. )

8Rev. Clete Hux, The Evangelical Dictionary of World Religions. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kundalini p. 295

9 Swami Param, New age yoga: Old age theft and surrender. The Costal News Group March 25, 2013. (internet article accessed at https://www.thecoastnews.com/new-age-yoga-old-age-theft-and-surrender/ )

10 Diane Smith, Wicca and Witchcraft for Dummies. https://www.walmart.com/ip/For-Dummies-Wicca-and-Witchcraft-for-Dummies-Paperback-9780764578342/3401529

11 Richard Abanes, Fantasy and Your Family (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 2002), 194-195.

12Phyllis Curott, witch, as quoted in Buck Wolfe, “Witches Bless Harry Potter,” ABC Newscom. August 18,1999.

13quote from witchnox.net by “Heather.” Message #1432, November 24, 2001

14 Richard Abanes, Harry Potter and the Bible (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 2001), 26.

15Michael O’Brien’s Harry Potter and the Paganization of Children’s Culture https://1593137887-da8479395cd0c713.wp-transfer.sgvps.net/culture/harry-potter-and-the-paganization-of-childrens-culture/

16 Ibid

Mold Grows in Dark Places

By: Nancy Kilpatrick

What a title for an article!  I chose to add another bedroom and walk in closet to my house a few years ago. For the first couple years I had a leaking roof periodically. I’d have it fixed, but it would leak again a few months later.  Finally, I had complete reroofing done that stopped the leak, and I quit being frustrated when it rained. A year later my daughter came to help me move some furniture and she discovered mold in the baseboard and told her husband.

A couple weeks later, my two sons and two son in law showed up at my house to rip out the molded areas and repair and paint. Needless to say, my house was a wreck for a couple weeks. All the furniture had been moved into the living room, the damaged areas on the wall removed, and replaced with new material.  I’ve been leak free ever since.

Why did I say all of this? What does this have to do with anything several years later? It is a perfect picture of what I’ve been learning since I had my eyes opened in 2008, and I began to study and investigate what is taking place in America.

As a country, we did not just wake up one day and discover that we have all the division in our country that we see and hear every day.  I can tell you, for sure, that America IS divided. Two parties, at opposite ends of the fight, one side fighting for liberty, freedom, constitutional rights, common sense, balanced budget. And the other side wanting to do away with everything our Founding Fathers and our ancestors fought and died for.

My personal terminology for that group is demonrats. Demonrats, meaning anyone who is actively promoting and upholding this trend to destroy our Constitutional Foundation regardless of what political party they support.  The fake news calls them “global elite”. The term “elite” according to the internet means: superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society. The truth is: they are narcissistic. Also, according to the Goggle search: a narcissistic individual must have at least five of the following qualities. 1. self-importance 2. entitlement 3. superior 4. arrogance 5. grandiose fantasies of success, power, beauty, or love 6. need for admiration and craving attention 7. using other people to reach their goals 8. lack of empathy 9. envying others or believing that other people envy them.  Surprised?  These Demonrats have all these traits. The news media is evidence of all nine of these traits coming from those who support this agenda of transforming America.

America needs a change, that is true, because these Demonrats have passed legislation in Washington DC to take over our schools, our health insurance and hospital personnel; they constantly attempt to take away our gun rights, and many other areas as well.  The constitution clearly states that the federal government has no authority that is not precisely stated in the Constitution, or the Constitution precisely denies the state to have control.  That limits what the Federal Government can do. It’s time we got back to Constitutional law and save America from these Demonrats.

The mold in Washington DC has been growing for several years. It’s time to rip out the baseboards and portions of the wall that has been damaged and get back to a safe America.  Our Great America,  where our kids can go to school without fear of armed intruders, where food is available for consumption without GMO so it can sit on the shelf a year before you buy it, where pharmaceuticals are purchased that did not come from a country that hates us, where Government actually protects us from terrorists coming across our southern border instead of stealing our God given rights that the Constitution actually guarantees us, and where our leaders have the common sense to know what a “woman” is.

Satan and 1/3 of the angels were thrown out of heaven because they rebelled against God. Today, we have these Demonrats trying to replace God. They are saying that what God made “good” in Genesis, like food, isn’t good enough. It needs to be genetically modified or hormones added to it.  A child born “male” can change to female and vice versa. They have legalized same sex marriage and sex change surgeries.  They have given teachers licenses to give hormone medication to students against parental knowledge and went so far as to say that parents rights end when a student enters the school building.

When God looked down on the world in Noah’s day, He saw the wickedness going on and He destroyed everything and everyone.  Scripture says that “as it was in the day of Noah, so will it be when He return to earth again.”

My question to Washington DC is this? Just how much more time do you think you can try to undo or redo God’s creation before He comes back and puts a stop to your agenda? I say, Let’s tear down the walls and the baseboards and rebuild Washington DC before it’s too late. Tony Perkins at Family Research Center in Washington, DC made this statement in a recent e-mail: “you and I know neither the President nor this Congress can revitalize the spiritual condition of our nation. Only a national repentance and a move of the Holy Spirit can restore our nation. The Biden administration’s domestic agenda is poisonous toward that end.”

It’s time for the Church and the Conservatives of this country to join hands and pray that God will intervene and bring our nation back to a Godly worldview and, Lord have mercy, let us install Constitutional law back into our government.  I implore every Pastor to step up and inform your congregation of the necessity to protect our Constitution, our Rights, our Children from the enemy that is attempting to destroy Freedom in our America.  It was God who gave us this country, and just as God instructed Adam to tend to the Garden of Eden, He expects us to tend to our Country.   God Bless those Pastors who are already active Shepherds over their sheep.  But shame on those Shepherds who are not.  You will be accountable one day.  The Scriptures are also very clear about those Shepherds who are not leading their sheep as He intended.

When you find a mold in your home, you must consider immediate actions for its removal.



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