Yesterday, we celebrated Father’s Day. As usual, my Facebook newsfeed was flooded by pictures and greetings, honoring fathers. Because of modern times and technology, daddy-honoring has become more public, at least online.

But to be honest, I envy my friends whose fathers are still alive and who have the opportunity to honor them. My dad passed away back in 2006 due to sickness. Since then, my family hasn’t been celebrating Father’s Day. Whenever it comes, a part of me hopes to “survive” the day. I know there are others who can relate to this feeling.

My dad, my brother, and I

My dad, my brother, and I

We live in a time where fatherlessness is prevalent. It’s an epidemic. Eric Mason, lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, calls this “Daddy Deprivation”.1 He observes in his church:

We initially thought that fatherlessness would be primarily concentrated in the poor ethnic minorities. To our dismay, though, daddy issues have been a cross-ethnic, cross-socioeconomic, cross-generational problem that doesn’t discriminate.2

In other words, Mason was saying that fatherlessness is present in all ethnicities, races, socioeconomic levels, and generations. It is true for his church and in society in general.

Some have lost their fathers early (like me). Some have fathers who abuse them, either physically or verbally. Some have fathers who abandoned them already. But some have fathers who are absent, either physically or emotionally. Doug Wilson, who calls fatherlessness “Father Hunger”3, writes:

We live in fatherless times. We have the obvious problem of fatherlessness when the fathers are long gone, but we also have the problem of fatherlessness when the fathers are present but not accounted for. If fathers are on the premises but don’t know what is expected of them, we have another kind of fatherlessness.4 (Emphasis added)

So what if you don’t have a daddy? The good news is that even if we have not-so-good experiences with our earthly fathers, we have a heavenly Father. Earthly fathers are imperfect and can be wicked. But our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). He delights in having an intimate relationship with us, His children (Romans 8:14-16). He knows our needs and wants to meet them (Matthew 6:25-34). He gives only what is good for us (Matthew 7:7-11). What a reminder for the fatherless!

Do you have a relationship with the heavenly Father?

P.S. In His infinite wisdom, our heavenly Father has blessed us with earthly fathers (we won’t be alive if it wasn’t for them) and has blessed some of us with wonderful, though imperfect, experiences with them. So let’s honor our earthly fathers. And let’s praise our heavenly Father for them.

(Belated) Happy Father’s Day to the fathers out there!


1Mason notes that this phrase was originally coined by his friend Blake Wilson. See Eric Mason, Manhood Restored (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 19.
2Ibid, 19-20.
3Wilson writes: “Father hunger is one of the central maladies of our time, and when there is widespread hunger like this, it is obviously a manifestation of a shortage. Fathers are absent, or gone a lot, or they have somehow turned themselves away.” Douglas Wilson, Father Hunger (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2013), 19.
4Ibid, 20.

I dedicate this entry to my fellow full-time workers. I hope this will be an encouragement to them, even for a bit.

Life and ministry can be tough on a Christian minister (pastors, missionaries, and other full-time church workers). I would testify to it. We—ministers—deal with messy people, toxic schedules, heavy workload, organizational targets, and a host of other pressures. Add to that the personal sins we face every single day and the tough journey of sanctification.

Ministry can be so draining physically, mentally, emotionally, and of course, spiritually. It can become, at many times, discouraging (see my blog Discouragement: The Subtle Disqualifier for a related discussion). It can even cause disillusion on the minister.

Sometimes—even many times—it can be tempting to quit the ministry and settle for a simpler life. Admittedly, it’s the easy way out from a growingly-complicated ministry.

But I think of the following:

  • There are many who are highly desirous to work full-time for the church but couldn’t get in (maybe because of timing or a different calling). But here I am, wanting to quit easily.
  • There are thousands, maybe millions, in the city where I serve who are lost, bound for hell, and need to hear the gospel. But here I am, wanting to quit, thus giving up the blessing of higher availability for evangelism and discipleship.
  • There are many ministers out there who serve in dangerous places, risking safety and security for the sake of the gospel’s advance. Like the apostle Paul, they despair of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8). But here I am, serving still in a safe and comfortable location but wanting to quit.
  • Ministry afflictions are meant, as the apostle Paul asserts, to strip me off of any self-sufficiency and make me rely on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9). That alone should be my consolation. But here I am, wanting to quit, thus forfeiting the opportunity to rely more on Christ and experience His comfort and help.

I feel ashamed and convicted when I think of these thoughts (and there are many others!) and that I’m complaining and grumbling instead of being grateful to God that he appointed me, by His grace, into full-time ministry.

So every time we find ourselves seriously considering quitting the ministry, we better think again. (I say “seriously” because thoughts of resignation are normal, I think, for the Christian minister.) And if you happen to see me whining and complaining and seriously considering resigning, I give you the authority to tell me, “Shut up!”

The Single: Holy and Happy

It’s been a while since I last wrote on the single life. So let me take a shot with this blog entry.

I once wrote that singles enjoy more flexibility than their married counterparts. A single is more flexible to devote his time, energy, and even money to the ministry than a married one. A married man, as the apostle Paul argues, is “anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided” (1 Corinthians 7:33-34a). A married woman also is (v. 34c). But the unmarried man and woman—the single—are “anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord” (v. 32) and “how to be holy in body and spirit” (v. 34b).

This doesn’t mean that married people aren’t anxious about the things of the Lord, or aren’t pleasing the Lord, or aren’t concerned about personal holiness. But reality shows us that their interests are already divided. Their marriage (and family, if they have kids) has become a ministry as well, and a primary one.

Indeed, there are benefits that married people enjoy but single people don’t, and vice versa. But undeniably, flexibility is something that is enjoyed more by singles at higher levels or even at a unique level.

Singles can enjoy high levels of flexibility for ministry work. But I realized that they can also enjoy high levels of flexibility to try new things. Since they have no spouse to take into consideration, they are freer to use their time, energy, and money for new things.

Of course, I don’t mean to say that married people can’t do new things. They can. How lovely and exciting it is to try new things with a spouse (I can just imagine!). However, a married person will be less flexible because he or she will always take his or her spouse into consideration.

So singles, while you still enjoy high levels of flexibility, try something new. Here are some suggestions:

TRY NEW SKILLS

I once loved watching cooking shows. But I didn’t become serious in cooking. Only recently did I manage to buy ingredients and try out some new recipes. I’m proud of my recipes Aglio e Olio and Mac & Cheese, though they can be better.

Learn new skills. Try cooking or driving if you haven’t been (I plan to take driving lessons within the year). Or if you’ve been blessed with an elegant lifestyle, try doing simple household chores like doing laundry and washing the dishes. Believe me; it will be useful in life.

TRY NEW PLACES

Last week, I came home from Baguio. I spent a week there, with the first five days with my fellow church leaders and friends. But in the last two days, I was alone (though I had a dinner with some friends who live there).

Baguio Trip with My Best Friends (Taken at Ben Cab Museum)

Baguio Trip with My Best Friends (Taken at Ben Cab Museum)

Baguio isn’t new to me. But just with any city or place, there is always something new to discover. In my “alone days”, I found a used-books store, an affordable Mongolian buffet restaurant, and a nice hang-out place.

Go and explore new places. It could be an entirely new place, somewhere you haven’t been to. Or it could be a familiar destination, somewhere you’ve been to (like I said, there’s always something new to discover). (This year, I plan to fly to new destinations, both domestically [hopefully in Coron, Palawan] and internationally [hopefully in Singapore].)

TRY NEW EXPERIENCES

I acknowledge that a new skill or a new place is a new experience. So when I say “experience”, I mean “something that is out of the ordinary.” It could be as extreme as bungee jumping and white river rafting. Or it could be as engaging as short-term missions trip and charity work. (I plan to do an international missions trip, hopefully next year. And if I only have the money, I will get scuba diving lessons.)

What “new” would you add to the list?


Recent blogs on The Single: Happy and Holy:

Single Men, You Need Money for Marriage and Family
I’m Not Comprehensively Attracted to Her
Just Enjoy the Friendship

This post is the (edited) manuscript of my message for Elevate Makati last Saturday (April 18).

You might be convinced that Jesus was fully human. But you shouldn’t just stop there. Many do. For others, He is just another good man, even a great moral person. You might say, “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” To which C.S. Lewis warns: “That is the one thing we must not say.”1

We must believe that Jesus is also God and not just a mere man. So is He really God? In this blog, allow me, in my simple way, to show to you what the Bible says about Jesus’ divinity or, if I may coin a term, “God-ness”. I’ll divide the bulk of the discussion into three parts:

  • What did others say of Jesus?
  • What did Jesus say of Himself?
  • What did Jesus do to prove what He said?

WHAT DID OTHERS SAY OF JESUS?

Let’s take a survey at what the biblical figures claim about Jesus.

THE DISCIPLES
Let’s start with Peter, Jesus’ disciple. In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (v. 14). In other words, some claim that Jesus is just another prophet or another man. Then Jesus asked them again, “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). To which Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16, emphasis added). Then Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (v. 17).

Others have their own opinion about Jesus. But what’s important is what you think about Him. For Peter, Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And he got it right! Jesus is God!2

Let’s turn to another disciple of Jesus whose name is Thomas (or more known as Doubting Thomas). When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples. However, Thomas wasn’t there (John 20:24). When the other disciples told him that they had seen Jesus, he wouldn’t believe (v. 25a). He even said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (v. 25b).

But eight days later, Jesus showed up again to the disciples (v. 26). This time, they’re with Thomas. Jesus told him, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (v. 27). To which Thomas responded, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28, emphasis added). He believed that Jesus was alive when he had seen His Lord. He believed that He called him his God. But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). Do you believe that Jesus indeed rose from the dead and is really God as did Thomas?

Finally, let’s turn to John the Beloved who wrote the Gospel of John. Why did he write the book of John? He answers: “[T]hese [referring to signs or miracles] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, emphasis added).

(The other disciples also claimed that Jesus was God [see Matthew 14:33].)

THE APOSTLE PAUL
Paul used to be a persecutor of the church (see Acts 8:1-3). He did not believe in Jesus. But on his way to Damascus where he will continue his persecution of believers, he encountered Jesus (read see Acts 9:1-9). Eventually, he began proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 20) and He was the Christ (v. 22).

Paul also wrote letters (or epistles) to different churches, which eventually constituted most of the New Testament. In some letters, he called Jesus “great God” (Titus 2:13) and also said that “he was in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6). He also wrote that “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God…For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:15, 19).

THE DEMONS
Surprisingly, demons had an accurate view of Jesus. We can see this in the following passages:

[When Jesus came] to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:28-29, emphasis added)

[A]ll those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to [Jesus], and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” (Luke 4:40-41, emphasis added)

Mark Driscoll (yes, I still quote him) makes an interesting comment:

Interestingly enough, the demons have some of the highest Christology in the gospels, though they themselves do not love Jesus or receive the gift of salvation from him. The demons even have a higher Christology than most present-day cults and world religions, which is, to say the least, tragic.3

Let me add that the demons even have a higher Christology than most Christians these days. Again, it’s tragic.

WHAT DID JESUS SAY OF HIMSELF?

So did Jesus say about himself? In the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly, emphatically claimed Himself to be God. One of the ways He did this was by saying “I AM” statements. There are 7 of these:

  • “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)
  • “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)
  • “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7)
  • “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14)
  • “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
  • “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)
  • “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser”/“I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:1, 5)

We have to realize that these statements were no ordinary statements. For you to understand, let’s go back to the Old Testament where Moses encountered God via a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17). When Moses asked for God’s name, He answered: “I AM WHO I AM” (3:13).

So when Jesus was saying “I AM”, He wasn’t just declaring another statement. He was declaring Himself to be God! It is because of this “I AM” declaration that the Jews tried to stone Him (John 8:58-59). They thought He was blaspheming. Before the attempt to stone Him, the Jews were already seeking to kill Him, “because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).

Let’s now go to Jesus’ arrest and trial, when he was before the religious leaders. The high priest Caiaphas questioned Him.

[Caiaphas] the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64Jesus said to him, “You have said so.” (Matthew 26:63-64; see also Luke 22:70-71)

Clearly, along with other evidences, Jesus claimed Himself to be God.

WHAT DID JESUS DO TO PROVE WHAT HE SAID?

There are things Jesus did to prove what He claimed. They are:

JESUS PERFORMED MIRACLES
He healed the sick, exorcised the demon-possessed, and even raised the dead. But while other bible figures also did this, Jesus performed miracles that only He performed and that have no human precedent or comparison. Some examples are:

  • Jesus multiplied food and fed thousands (Five thousand: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13; Four thousand: Matthew 15:32-28; Mark 8:1-9)
  • Jesus calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)
  • Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33 [The disciples even declared in verse 33: “Truly you are the Son of God”]; Mark 6:45-51; John 6:16-21) [Peter also walked on water, but drowned due to his doubt]
  • Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11)

These and other miracles prove that Jesus is God (John 10:38, 20:31).

JESUS FORGAVE SINS
In Mark 2:1-12, we read of the story about a paralytic who was brought to Jesus. When he saw the paralytic’s faith, as well as his friends, He told him, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). The scribes, who were experts in the Scriptures, questioned in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v. 7). They were actually right. God alone forgives sins. However, they did not recognize that Jesus is God.

So to prove that He is God and can forgive sins, Jesus told the paralytic to rise up. The paralytic stood up.

JESUS RAISED HIMSELF BACK TO LIFE
If Jesus did not resurrect on Easter, then let’s forget everything else that He said. None of His claims were true. But He did resurrect. Thus, everything that He said about Himself is true! So it’s true that He is God, as He repeatedly and emphatically claimed!

LIAR, LUNATIC, OR LORD?

At the start of this blog, I quoted C.S. Lewis. Let me show you the entire quote:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.4

What Lewis was trying to say is that Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord. If Jesus claimed to be God when He knew He wasn’t, then He’s a liar. If He claimed to be God but wasn’t sure if He really was, then he’s a lunatic (crazy!). But if He claimed to be God and was sure about it and even proved it, then He is Lord and that demands our faith and allegiance be placed in Him.

Jesus isn’t just a man or a great moral teacher. “He has not left that open to us” and “did not indend to.” He is God! He is Lord! And we must make our choice.

Is Jesus Your Lord?


1C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2001), 52.
2Peter claimed that Jesus is “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Paul did as well (Acts 9:20). So what does “Son of God” mean? An article explains: “Jesus is not God’s Son in the sense of a human father and a son. God did not get married and have a son. God did not mate with Mary and, together with her, produce a son. Jesus is God’s Son in the sense that He is God made manifest in human form (John 1:1, 14).” Moreover: “To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is ‘of God.’”
3Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books), 16.
4Mere Christianity, 52.

“He’s a good leader. But he’s not that relational.”

I’ve heard comments like this about me. To be called a “good leader” is somehow flattering. In the midst of a difficult ministry, this is an affirmation that I’m on the right path. But honestly, I’m not really sure how to react with the “not relational” part. Admittedly, I’m not relational.

But relational can mean a lot of things. It can mean “outgoing.” In this sense, then, I’m not relational. Some people, friends and acquaintances alike, describe me as suplado (snobbish). And they’re “accusation”, sadly, is valid. (So if you’re one of the people I snubbed before, please forgive me. I’m still working on it.)

It can also mean “not spending much time with people.” In this sense, again, I’m not relational. I’m a reserved person, preferring to be alone than be around with people. As a full-time church worker, specifically a youth minister, I find this trait a challenge to my ministry. Many people demand for my time. Sometimes, I experience a tug-of-war between meeting with people and wanting to be alone (because being with people can be draining for me).

But relational can also mean “having and valuing deep relationships.” So am I now relational in this sense?

I took an inventory of my relationships and realized the following: I have a group of friends who I met back in college and did campus ministry with, and I still see them regularly (my best male friends are from this group). I lead a ministry core team with people who aren’t just wonderful teammates but also trusted friends (we even have a saying in our team that came from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy: “We are Groot!”). I have fellow youth ministers who I consider “brothers-in-arms”; we meet weekly for coffee and share stories about life and ministry. And while I don’t boast to have many friendships, I still have a few others that are rich and deep.

Finally, I’m now relational.

Yes, I’m not outgoing. Yes, I don’t spend much time with people. And I only have a few relationships that are deep. Does this ring a bell? Okay, I’m coming out of the closet: I’m an introvert.1

UNDERSTANDING INTROVERTS

Many people misunderstand introverts. Thankfully, Susan Cain wrote a book to help us understand them. In her bestseller Quiet, Cain, in trying to define introversion, encounters a challenge. “I soon discovered,” she writes, “that there is no all-purpose definition of introversion or extroversion; these are not unitary categories, like ‘curly-haired’ or ‘sixteen-year-old,’ in which everyone can agree on who qualifies for inclusion.”2 Modern psychologists, however, tend to agree on several points.

Introverts and extroverts differ on the level of outside stimulation needed to function well. Extroverts need a high level of stimulation. They get pumped up with activities such as meeting new people and doing extreme sports. Introverts are okay with less stimulation. They can just have a coffee with a friend or read a book and be fine with that. (This explains why I naturally prefer to be alone or just surround myself with a few people.)

Both personality types also work differently. Extroverts tend to tackle assignments quickly, make fast (sometimes rash) decisions, multi-task, and take risks. Introverts often work slowly and deliberately, tackling one task at a time, normally with high-levels of concentration.

Another aspect in which the two types differ is in social styles. Extroverts are the people who add life to a party or to other social gatherings.

They tend to be assertive, dominant, and in great need of company. Extroverts think out load and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening, rarely find themselves at a loss for words, and occasionally blurt out things they never meant to say. They’re comfortable with conflict, but not with solitude.3

Introverts are really different from their extroverted counterparts, I must say:

Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.4

(The quote above perfectly describes me.)

Cain also explains what introverts aren’t. Introverts aren’t hermits or misanthropes (hater of mankind), though they can be. They aren’t necessarily shy either, though again, they can be. Cain helpfully distinguishes shyness from introversion:

Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.5

BE YOURSELF

I hope you now have a basic understanding of introversion.6 While reading the descriptions above, you may have found yourself saying, “That’s me! I’m an introvert!” And you may have asked yourself, “Is there a place for me in the church?”

Some people, especially in the church (I’ve encountered some), tend to look down on their introversion and even view it as a disadvantage. In my opinion, the church is partly to blame for this. We have unconsciously created cultures and programs that largely benefit the extroverts. We encourage church people to be welcoming and outgoing (an extrovert trait), to get out of their comfort zones (extroverts can do this easier than their introverted counterparts), to go out and be with people whom they are trying to win to Christ. There’s nothing wrong with these things; they are in fact biblical. But given their nature, introverts may need to have more time in becoming adjusted and comfortable with these things.7 So as a church, we have to be more patient with introverts. And as a church, maybe we should also consider creating cultures and designing programs with both extroverts and introverts in mind.

So is there a place for introverts in the church? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” I do believe that God, in His wisdom, created introverts and have put them in His church to serve her. Introverts are uniquely gifted with traits that their extroverted counterparts do not have naturally. So the church will greatly benefit from them.8

Introvert, you are gift to the church. You prefer to listen and think first than speaking right away. Staff/leadership meetings will have fewer headaches if you are in them. You prefer devoting time and energies to a fewer people. So go, invest, and focus your discipleship on a fewer people. You prefer deep conversations than small talks. Well, the church, sadly, has lots of shallow people nowadays. So spark deep, important discussions about life and faith.

Introvert, just be yourself in serving the bride of Christ to the glory of God!


1If you know me personally, this may come as a surprise to you. I’m naturally an introvert and just a learned extrovert. Ministry “forced” me to learn it—in a good way, of course.
2Susan Cain, Quiet (New York, NY: Broadway Books, 2013), 10.
3Ibid, 11.
4Ibid.
5Ibid, 12.
6If you want to have a deeper understanding of introverts, I highly encourage you to read the Cain’s book Quiet. You may find it highly biased towards introverts. Well, it’s a book on introversion written by an introvert. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it to you.
7I’m not in any way encouraging disobedience or delayed obedience. Far from it! The commands in the Bible should be obeyed (and be obeyed immediately), regardless of one’s personality type. However, I do acknowledge that the application of a command in the Bible of an extrovert might be different from the ones of an introvert. Experiences differ as well. Let me give you a scenario. Every Christian is commanded to make disciples and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Application-wise, an extrovert may be comfortable doing this in a large group, while an introvert may be comfortable doing this in a small group. Experience-wise, an extrovert may easily find himself comfortable doing this, but an introvert may find himself taking some time in becoming comfortable doing this. But whatever the application and the experience, it must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
8You may find Julia Howell’s Relevant article What Introverts Wish the Church Understood About Them helpful.