Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Holy Spirit's Work

Despite the chill outside, a late season frost swept the Northland overnight, Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly on this Pentecost Sunday. "Jesus said to His followers, 'You're better off if I go and the Holy Spirit comes,'" which leads into the very heart of today's theme. What is the life that we can expect based on what God has promised to those who follow Him?

But first, announcements.
1. CHIC Banquet will be this coming Friday, June 5 at the church.
2. With VBS approaching, there will be a meeting after church this coming Sunday for all involved.
3. Paula Saxin reminded us to bring our "good stuff" that we want to get rid of to the church any time prior to June 26, cleaned and priced, for the Rummage Sale June 27, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds will be shared between the ministry "Break the Chains" (dealing with human trafficking) and the Women's Circle.
4. Susie Lane invited everyone to come to John's grad party at the Lane home on Friday, 5-8.

Darlene's intro was very moving, followed by a time of worship led by Brad, Ellie and Pearl. After an offering, the Scripture reading included Acts 2:2-21 and Romans 8:22-27.

The was much enthusiasm expressed when Darlene V. and Judy E. announced their retirements this week. Congratulations!

But there is a lot of pain in the church right now, and many people carrying burdens who need our prayers. Several church family members are battling cancer, and others dealing with difficult situations. We need to keep lifting up one another.

The Holy Spirit's Work

Pastor Brad began by telling us to ask someone near us, "On a scale of 1-10, how was your weekend so far?" This was a lead in to the theme expressed earlier, what kind of life are we expected to have as Christians?

As a starting point we were directed to two passages in Gospel of John, the first in chapter 7. It was the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, a big feast. Jesus shows up and makes a remarkable statement.

37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

The King James version states, "Out of his belly will flow rivers of living water." The Greek word here means, "the center of your being."

Jesus is essentially saying that anyone who's discontent, dissatisfied, empty, unhappy and who comes to Me, trusts and begins to follow Me, right down to the guts in your belly you will be flowing with energy, hope, joy and power. And He ties this directly to the Holy Spirit.

The second passage is found in John 10:10... "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Yes, you'd expect Satan to show opposition to this kind of life.

Peter also wrote about the abundant life in Christ. In I Peter 1:8 he writes, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him… and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…”

Unfortunately, for most of us there is a gap between this joyful, abundant life we read about in the Scriptures and our own personal experience, which does not look like this at all. So what do people do when that gap doesn’t get smaller the longer we follow Christ? Here are some of the most typical responses.

1. Try harder. Just keep trying. Unfortunately, these attempts to experience abundant life in the flesh only lead to exhaustion. It is to such as these whom Jesus directed the words, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

2. Pretend the gap is not there. These are people who focus instead on managing impressions. Brad told a story of a mother who told her son that fake happiness is better than real depression, so “smile.” Pretending emotions that aren’t really there is not a way to close the gap or experience abundant life.

3. Repeated re-dedication. Many of us have been in churches where people are urged to repeatedly re-dedicate their lives to Christ. Each summer at camp, or at the next revival meeting.

4. Keep switching spiritual venues. Brad said it may be that the problem is not the place you are at, and you will run into the same wall at the next stop. Playing musical chairs still doesn’t close the gap.

5. Some eventually give up. After a while the gap is just too painful. Inside they feel discouraged, even hopeless. They decide inwardly that such a life is not even possible. They may stay in a church, keep being Christians, but inwardly give up believing that life can be different. Truth is, some of you here are probably there.

But what if there’s another way? What if Jesus was right? What if He really meant what He said about rivers of life? What if He really meant it and knew what He was talking about?

Brad then proceeded to share with us a few other verses which spoke about Who is at work within us to shrink that gap.

Paul said this: He who began a good work in you when you were converted will be faithful to complete it. And in the same letter Paul wrote, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good pleasure.”

To the Christians at Corinth he wrote, “Now the Lord is spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness…”

It is only by grace that we can close the gap. Yet somehow we think that we can close the gap some other way, by our own human effort. Dallas Willard notes that grace is not simply for salvation, but for the completion of the Lord’s work in us as well, the renovation of the heart. It’s an illusion that the saints do not need much grace because they don’t sin much. But the reality is that Christians burn more grace than anyone because it is the fuel that they are running on.

The picture Jesus uses is of a river… streams of living water. Robert Redford directed a great movie on this theme called A River Runs Through It. The river equals life. A dry river bed indicates death. The river in this story is a picture of grace.

In Scripture this theme of the river appears from Genesis to Revelations. In the Beginning we see a river runs through the Garden of Eden. In the last chapter of the Bible, we again see a river. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb…”

Another passage exclaims, “There is a river that makes glad the City of God…” and Jeremiah 17:8 also speaks of God’s stream which nourishes those who are planted by it that they might bear fruit.

What Brad sought to convey was that this river has been flowing from the beginning of time, and it is flowing through all things, including us. “What if your assignment is just to jump into the river?”

He then talked about surfing. Surfers don’t make the waves, they just learn how to recognize them as they’re coming, and time their moves to get in harmony with what is already there. If they crash and burn, they just get up and take another one, because there is always another wave on the way.

Brad proclaimed, “Surf’s up! Jump into the flow of God’s grace. This is the Gospel.”

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Loving the Lost

What a beautiful sunny Sunday morning here this Memorial Day weekend. Pastor Brad Shannon began by noting that this is Ascension Sunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter. During this period after the Resurrection there were many proofs that He was alive and that we would be His witnesses.

Pastor Brad commented on the Craig Groeschel's book It which Brad had been reading this week, which tries to define what "it" is in those churches which are thriving. One theme which Brad draws out is the importance of loving the lost, a theme to be highlighted in today's message. Do we love those people who are far from God?

Announcements began with noting that there is no more Jr. & Sr. high youth group for the duration of the summer, as well as no men's Bible study. The Building Committee will be meeting on Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

The quartet -- Chuck, Darlene, Ken and Dale -- led us in worship this morning, followed by the offering.

Brian Muecke was with us today and spoke to the congregation about the work that we are helping support at Covenant Park. This year is the 70th anniversary. The theme is Win, Build, Equip. That is, win people to Christ, build them up in the body of Christ, and Equip them for lives of service.

This was followed by a song by Levi Landsverk. Levi missed Confirmation last week and Brad said, kidding, that Levi would have to sing this week as a consequence. It turns out, Levi brought a CD and indeed performed for us a song that perfectly dovetailed with today's message about reaching out to others as Christ's body. The song had penetrating lyrics and it was a nice way to learn that we have yet another singer in the church.

The Scripture readings, from Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:44-53, were followed by a time of prayer.

Loving the Lost

Brad said he feels a little like One-Note Johnny as he repeats this ongoing theme that we need to love the lost. "It breaks my heart when people in churches say 'We need new members because we can't pay the bills.'" This and several other statements were cited to make the point that many non-Christians are far from Christ not because they were rejecting Jesus but they were rejecting the church.

One example of a problem in many churches is that the people are friendly, but often only to each other. That is, an outsider might visit, and instead of feeling welcome they can be made to feel unwanted, uncomfortable and awkward. This "inward focus" is a signal that the church is unhealthy. Healthy missional churches have a passion to share Christ with others.

Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was, and He said to love God. And the second greatest, "to love you neighbor as yourself." The two are actually one, because loving God means loving people.

All too often instead of loving the lost Christians insulate themselves from them because of the way they look, the movies they watch, the music they listen to, the clothes they wear, the cussing after a bad golf swing, the tattoos or piercings, or they are homosexuals. But these are the very people for whom Christ died.

Love propels us to reach out to the lost. "Do you love the lost?" Brad asked.

Brad pointed us to a passage in the New Testament from which important lessons could be drawn pertaining to this theme. One day, Jesus was teaching in someone's home. The door was open, which in Palestine meant you could enter, and when Jesus entered the house quickly became flooded with people. Four guys who saw that Jesus was here went to bring a crippled friend who desperately needed Jesus. They were thinking of someone else and not just themselves.

A healthy church can not just focus on itself, Brad said, and challenging us with the question, "How many meaningful conversations with non-Christians have you had this past week?" Fortunately, we can ask God to grow our heart for the lost.

Brad called these four men in the Gospel story the Fab Four. And he outlines four lessons we could take away from this account.

1. They recognized their friend needed Jesus.

2. We see that it took four people to get this one to Jesus. A healthy church recognizes it is not all the pastor's job. It's everyone's job. Outreach is a team effort.

3. The Fab Four did everything they could to get their friend to Jesus. The Gospel account states that they had to actually break in through the roof to get their friend to Jesus. They were determined to eliminate all barriers.

4. Faith that Jesus can actually change a person's life. The Fab Four had this kind of faith.

At this point Pastor Brad shared a line from the film The Guardian, in which Kevin Costner is an elite Coast Guard rescue diver. At one point someone asked Ben Randall (Costner) how many lives he's saved. The expectation is for a number in the hundreds, because his reputation is as one of the greats in this. He replies, 22. "That's the only number I ever counted." It was the number of those he'd failed to save. Instead of boasting of our achievements for Christ, healthy churches focus on how many more there are whom God wants to reach.

This is the Gospel.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Choose Life

This morning was Confirmation Sunday, an important step in which young people say, "It's not my parents' faith, it's my faith." Pastor Brad welcomed us, exclaiming, "It thrills us when young people want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ."

Announcements included:
1. Eric and the Youth would be selling "Stock Shares" after the service as part of the CHIC fundraising they continue to do. The "Stock" was on sale for $10 a share, which can be redeemed at a dinner on Friday, June 5 here at the church.
2. Church Council Meeting will be Tuesday the 19th at 7:00 p.m.
3. Today was the last day of Sunday school. Thanks was extended to all teachers, substitutes and volunteers for the school year now completed. (Thank you, JoaAnn for your dedicated leadership!)
4. Next Sunday the summer schedule will kick in. Worship begins at 9:30 a.m.

The youth in our church led the call to worship, invocation and Scripture readings. The Scriptures today included Daniel 1:11-21 and I Timothy 4:11-16.

Our prayer time this morning was especially poignant. There are many hurting people in the church family dealing with a wide range of issues, some quite heartbreaking. Many needs, much pain and heartfelt prayers touched many of us today. It is good to be part of a church family.

At one point a visitor stood and encouraged us to keep doing what we are doing, loving one another. And Brad noted that God is in "the Restoration business." Despite the challenges we have much to be grateful for.

Choose Life

Today's message was based on Deuteronomy 30:11-20.
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

"I wish I could infuse in our young people how much God loves you and how important your choices matter," Brad began. His message continuously returned to this theme of the importance of our choices based on Moses' appeal to the people of Israel as he was about to depart from them. It was the end of a forty year trek in the wilderness. Moses would not be permitted to lead them across the Jordan into the Promised Land as God was bringing him "home." So Moses speaks to this ragged band, these stiff-necked people whom he has loved and led all these years. His aim is to infuse in them an urgency. We have daily choices to make. Some lead to life, others to death.

Brad noted that we have many opportunities daily to make choices which are not neutral. One path leads to life, freedom, joy, fruitfulness. The other path leads to guilt, bitterness, death and destruction. It is up to us to make every choice count, for the rest of our lives, in light of these words.

In verse 16 Moses states that the path to life is obedience which is demonstrated three ways.
(1) Love God.
(2) Wise conduct.
(3) Obey his guidelines for life, His commandments.

Do this and you will thrive. God's blessings will be with you.

The answers are not far off, not hard to understand, not obscure and difficult. As Moses states in verse 14, "The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it."

But Moses goes further. If your heart is not tender toward God and attentive to God's Word, you will be led astray. (vs. 17) No one starts out in life seeking destruction. What happens is that they do not have a strong aim and therefore drift there. Disaster follows when we slip away from the community of faith and hope.

Choose life! It does not seem that hard to understand. Yet so often we can get deceived and some things we think will lead to life actually lead to death.

By way of illustration Pastor Brad shared three anecdotes. The first was a story about going to Jackson Hole in Colorado. He thought this would be the end all and be all of really living. Starting off on the wrong foot he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed on the way after a 20 hour drive. This did not deter them from continuing. At the mountain itself he felt expansive and confident, ignoring warnings to "respect the mountain." Needless to say, the adventure concluded with a friend's blown out knee, and some other lessons.

Another story Brad told was about a lifelong smoker whom he visited in Minneapolis who had to breathe through a tracheotomy as a result of his many surgeries. As a youth he thought smoking was something glamorous. His addiction, which led to bad health and much personal suffering, was no longer that glamorous when he had to smoke through the hole in his throat.

Brad also recalled some mean this he'd said about a classmate in his school days which were cruel and unkind. He cringes to this day for having said things which seemed "cool" at the time.

We have many places where we encounter forks in the road and decisions to make. It may be decisions about finances. Scripture speaks of tithing and giving to the needy. This is a path which leads to life. The other path -- hoarding, coveting, scheming to acquire things we don't need or which seem life-giving but are not -- leads to death.

Another fork has to do with relationships. We come to this fork hundreds of times a day, and most often the decisions are not neutral. We can be listeners or tune others out. We can say hurtful things. We can gossip. Sometimes we need to confront but we keep silent. In short, your daily choices matter. Choose life!

Don't you know that this is the one and only life you have to live? Choose life. Life and death are held out to you hundreds of times a day. Choose life. This is the Gospel.

The message was followed by a Rite of Confirmation ceremony for Grant Borndal.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Raising Whole Children

This morning there was a breakfast given for mothers at 9 a.m. made by the men of the church. They made waffles, and served fruit and sausage. All the mothers were also invited to take home a geranium provided by The Petunia Patch Greenhouse.

We were reminded that the summer schedule begins on May 24th. The last day of Sunday School will be on May 17th. On the 24th church will begin at 9:30 a.m.

We are also being reminded to invest in our youth. “Stock” will be sold at church over the next few weeks which will go to support the youth going to CHIC. There will later be a “stock holders dinner” held for those who have purchased stock. Those who have helped support the youth in this way will be sent postcards also from the kids who are at CHIC who will keep us up on how they are doing and what they are learning.

Chuck then told us a bit about Sarah Borndal’s planned mission this summer with Grip Outreach for Youth. This is a youth ministry in Chicago for disadvantaged youth and Sarah will be working with them from May thru part of August. We took a retiring offering to help support her in this.

Today Olivia Pearl Grages, daughter of Brant and DeeDee was baptized. Her grandfather Rev. Jim Swanson baptized her with Rev. Shannon also present to deliver thoughts and reflections.

Pearl and Ruth Anne’s class then sang Happy Mother’s Day and the small children in the class ran and gave their mothers a flower.

Ten year old Ali Anderson read scriptures. Her excellent reading ability elicited applause. The Scripture readings were from Acts 8:26-40 and John 15:1-8

The Message: Raising Whole Children

Glen Wiberg spoke of an idea he called “plotting the resurrection.” Hebrews 11:3 speaks of what is seen not being made out of what was visible. A story was told about E.B. White watching his wife planting bulbs in her garden even as she was sick and about to die. Even though her own day’s end was at hand she knew that there would yet be another spring. She went about “calmly plotting the resurrection.”

We are the company of those who plant seeds in the dark days of uncertainty, no one knows how the tender shoots appear. We are oblivious to the end of our own days. Mothers plant the seeds of hope into their young children. We are beneficiaries of the plot of those who went before us and planted the seeds. We stand in a stream of “history making” and would be wise to remember where we came from. We are the end result of someone else’s dream who possibly faced hardship as they came over on a ship to America. What do we have that we have not received? Other planters and planners have prepared the way before us. We also must invest ourselves now in what has value for the future. Don’t get discouraged though you might not see the result yet now.

Hebrews 11 speaks of Jacob blessing his sons while leaning on his staff. Sometimes we are acting on a blessing that we hope for.

Hebrews 11:13 says “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised, they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance…” They pre-enacted the future for a stream they would never see. We are called to plant bulbs for a spring we may never see. All of us need a grander vision of God’s in-breaking kingdom.

On Mother’s Day we are thinking of a mother’s influence on her children, but a single person can also invest in children. There is something much greater than meeting my own needs in life. Keep alive a sense of miracle and surprise, we may never know where a planting may lead.

Joseph had given instructions concerning the burial of his bones but it was 400 years later when his bones were finally carried to the promised land. A small disheartened church may yet see a new ministry, a child struggling today may see a wonderful future. The thing that keeps people gardening is the sense of surprise and wonder. A story was told of a person who was planning to plant some flowers called “Persian Jewels” and just as they were about to plant the extremely tiny precious seeds a gust of wind came up and blew them out of his hand, and he believed there was no hope for those flowers. Not long afterward though, they came up in another part of the garden.

Resurrection never happens as we plan it out. There’s a mystery beyond our control, beyond the ache and pain of our planting. Once we plant, things will never be the same again. We never know the effect we have on another person, nothing goes down the drain. Not a cup of cold water given in His name, not Persian jewels planted, not your efforts as mothers and fathers.

Be part of the conspiracy of resurrection. His Kingdom can be extended through us even though we don’t see the results. This is the Word of the Lord.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Ten Lepers

Eric Borndal, who leads our youth, welcomed us this morning and led the service. This weekend Pastor Brad is on a foray somewhere in the wilderness in pursuit of morel mushrooms.

The announcements today were brief, but no less important for their brevity. Paula Saxin made two announcements. The first pertaining to a memorial for Ben next Saturday. A light lunch will be served. The second was a reminder regarding a June church rummage sale in which half the proceeds will go to the Breaking the Bonds outreach that seeks to increase awareness of and put an end to the trafficking of women. Susie Newman stood and gave practical instructions regarding the picking up of things which had been donated to the art show.

If you did not see the creativity which was on display, you missed something. There was a lot of talent on display here this past week and we're hoping next year to see even more. Thanks to all who contributed.

Darlene played a moving introit again, helping shift the mood from light hearted church business to reflective preparation of the heart and mind for worship, which today was led by Pearl, Ellie, Chuck and Ken, accompanied by Darlene.

Ed Newman led a children's moment this morning, illustrating some Biblical truths from a painting the kids did Wednesday night at Adventure Club. The project involved having each young person choose a color, choose a brush and choose a location on the painting to paint a stripe. (The image above is the finished piece.) Ed commented on his delight in watching each one choose a color, a brush and apply the paint. He noted that God, too, delights in us and enjoys seeing our choices, our creativity, hearing us sing, all that we do to bring beauty to the world.

Then Ed asked one of the children which stripe she painted, and she pointed out the stripe second from the top. When he asked if she knew who painted the other two stripes on the sides of hers, she didn't... The point was made that often unaware of how our lives touch the lives of those around us.

Ultimately, God is delighted at the various colors our lives contribute to the larger painting that is our church family. Though from our human vantage point we cannot see it, from His perspective it is a work of exceeding beauty.

Today's Scripture readings were from Acts 4:5-12 and John 10:11-18. After a time of prayer, and a hymn, Leonard gave the message.

The Ten Lepers

The passage upon which today's message was based is found in Luke 17:11-19, the famous passage where Jesus heals ten lepers. Despite the familiarity of this passage for some, Leonard brought us insights and observations that made the text fresh and alive.

11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
14When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.
15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

In verses 12 and 13 we read that the lepers stood at a distance a shouted to Jesus. This is because in accordance with the Old Testament rules and the laws of the day, lepers could not approach people. They were unclean, and had to let it be known as such.

Leonard noted that Jesus did not do all His miracles or healings in the same way. In this instance he gave them instructions to go show themselves to the priests. When they followed His command, they were healed along the way.

One of these, a Samaritan, when he discovered he was healed returned, praising God and throwing himself at Jesus' feet.

It's a passage that contains many lessons for us, but the one Leonard effectively highlighted was with regard to gratitude.

Leonard asked two questions regarding gratitude. (1) Are we expressing it? And (2) are we expecting it?

With regard to the latter, we seldom get as much as we think we deserve. The result, if we allow ourselves to dwell on this feeling of being unappreciated, is bitterness. Expecting gratitude and not getting it will eat away at us.

It's important to talk about gratitude because gratitude has a real impact on our relationships. In this story, the Samaritan came back to give thanks not because it was a rule to follow, but because it was an attitude and an expression from his heart.

Sometimes, we expect others to thank us, to express their gratitude, and it spoils it. We can even get it into our heads that God, who owes us nothing, ought to be grateful for us and that sometimes we expect gratitude from God, who has already given us more than we deserve.

In chapter 6 of the Book of Esther, King Darius was having difficulty sleeping one night so he ordered the chronicles of his reign to be brought in and read to him. When he hears of the good deed of Mordecai who uncovered a conspiracy against the king, he asked if Mordecai had been thanked or honored in some way. It was important to show Mordecai the king's gratitude.

Leonard pointed out that God rewards us not for having followed the rules, but rather when our praise or good deeds are a generous expression of the gratitude that is in our hearts.

Paul at one point asked God to remove a "thorn in the flesh" which was problematic for him. But God did not remove this thing. Rather, He said, "My grace is sufficient for you."

Sometimes our expectations will only leave us disappointed.

Leonard then directed us to how Medal of Honor winners often achieve their awards. The classic example is a hand grenade which a soldier dives onto, sacrificing his life in order to save the lives of his brothers in arms. We learned today that the son of one of our former pastors died in Viet Nam in this manner, sacrificing himself to save others. And how like our Lord, who likewise gave His all to save us.

Leonard told an emotional personal story about his father who expressed gratitude to Leonard on one occasion and how much it meant to him. Unexpectedly, his father died shortly thereafter. Leonard was moved when in the aftermath of his father's loss many other people expressed gratitude for his father. Leonard said that even if you can't express it directly, these indirect expressions can be very powerful.

We were urged to share our gratefulness for spouses, and others. And to not expect too much in return. In this story we see that even Jesus only received 10% of the thanks which He deserved.

The message touched many, and after the service I believe there were many expressions of gratefulness conveyed.