"YOU HAVE THE POWER".............. November 14, 2017
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea,
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
I try to find spiritual applications to everyday life and here is one of my favorite lessons the Lord taught me.
One day when I was a roustabout in the oil field, my “pusher” (crew boss) gave me the job of refilling all of the fire extinguishers on an oil platform.
There was probably over a dozen if not many more.
I was given several 50-pound buckets of Ansul powder and dozens of compressed gas chargers. The powder was light blue, sticky when wet,
and was very light so the slightest breeze would cause it to swirl around me light a tornado. By the time I got done I was light blue from nose to toes!
First, I had to take the security tab off of the gas canister (charged at 800 psi), unscrew the lid of the fire extinguisher and pour out the old powder.
(Clouds of powder, clouds.) When that was done I put a large funnel in the tank and poured powder from the bucket into the tank.
(More clouds of powder and because it was hot and I was sweating, I became blue colored and slick.)
After I put the lid back on I would take a new gas cannister, screw it onto the tank and put the security tab on the trigger. Good job Mario!
But as I was working I prayed and asked the Lord to give me an application to this hot, dirty, dusty, work.
If you encounter a fire and you have a 50-pound bucket of Ansul powder, you can throw handfuls or even small bucketsful of that powder on the fire
do you know what will happen? Nothing! That powder will do nothing when used that way to put out the fire.
However, (and that is an important word!) if you press the trigger on the extinguisher, and engage the gas, you can direct the nozzle at the
fire and the powder comes out with force, creating a cloud of powder that robs the fire of oxygen. No oxygen, no fire!
The powder without power is almost useless! Look again at this verse from Acts -
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me . . .”
So, let’s break it down.
What will we receive? Power!
From Whom? The Holy Spirit!
Why do we need the Holy Spirit’s power? To be witnesses!
Witnesses of Who? Of our Lord Jesus!
“But I don’t talk very good, Lord!” You know, Moses tried that and God sent him Aaron! God has already empowered you with His Holy Spirit –
the third member of the Trinity. God is already in you to help you witness!
“But I don’t know how to witness!” What “how”? We are talking about Jesus! If He saved you, isn’t that the most wonderful news you have ever had?
Then tell someone what Jesus did! That is witnessing!
“I don’t know what to say!” Again, the most miraculous thing ever to happen to a human has happened to you! Jesus saved you so that you might live
with Him forever!
How can we not tell people?
God has given us the power to witness! If you are having a problem getting started, ask God to make the Holy Spirit’s power real to you! Ask Him to
provide you opportunities to share your salvation with others.
You have the power! You have the authority! So tell somebody what the Lord has done for you!
"Tell somebody what the Lord has done for you!"
"WHO NEEDS TO SEE?"............. November 7, 2017
“At the Cross! At the Cross! Where I first saw the light . . .”Some years ago in Orofino, Idaho, Bonny and I went to our church’s picnic one Saturday for food, fun, fellowship and games. We were all playing volleyball and Pastor Al kept missing the ball almost every time it came his way. Of course, we were all laughing at him
until he grabbed the ball and said,“Hey! I just got brand new glasses with bifocals! I see big ball, little ball, big hands, little hands! I don’t know ball to hit with what
set of hands!” Which only made us laugh the harder!
When I was 16 my folks took me to the eye doctor on the base (Daddy was in the Navy) and the doc put those huge steam punk looking googles on me and asked, “What do you see?”
“Sir, I see a blank white wall.” So, he adjusted them several clicks and with a satisfied look asked, “Now, what do you see?”
“Sir, I see a blank white wall.” So, he adjusted them several clicks again and asked again if I could see anything.
“Sir, I still just see a blank white wall.” He asked me if I was messing with him and I told him no, so with many clicks he said, “Now?”
“I see a blank white wall with some black lines.”
The doctor turned my dad and said, “Chief, your son is blind.”
After more testing it was discovered that my eyesight was 20/450. That means that while normal people (20/20 vision) could see clearly an object at 450 feet, I had to be 20 feet away from it to see the object clearly.
Glasses were ordered and the day my brother and I picked them up at the Base Exchange I was excited to put them on. We went outside to the shuttle bus shelter and I said,
“Julian! I can see the ships!”
“They’ve been there the whole time.” He said.
“Yeah, but now I can see them clearly!”
Where before the ships at the piers were just one gray blob, I could see individual ships, their numbers, the masts, everything!
The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see through a glass, darkly;”
November 11, 1973. Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, the Base Chapel. The guest speaker was a man by the name of Junior Browning (yes, his first name was “Junior”) and he preached the gospel to a young airman who did not wait for the altar call before practically running to that altar to surrender his life to Christ.
Two dear sisters, Angie Cisco and Kim Thomas sang the invitation, “God’s Final Call” and for me it seemed to be His final call! I responded, repented and received Jesus as my Savior, Lord, and my God. Now my vision was no longer shadowed, blurred or blinded – it was clear!
No “double-vision” as my Pastor, Al, talked about. No more “Big Man Upstairs” that was just some big blob. No, my God made Himself real to me and took away the spiritual blindness!
"To God be the Glory!"
"TRAINING IN CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES"............... October 31, 2017
Let me tell you a story (I can hear you now, “Oh boy! Story time with Mario!”). In the early 80’s we were attending an Assembly of God in Boothville/Venice, La.
Our Pastor, Anthony Marquez, preached a sermon one Sunday called “Blackberries”.
Our church had experienced growth that stunned the community. It went from a fellowship of 6-10 people to over 200 in less than two years. Anthony applied
some of the same principles that Pastor has spoken of; preaching repentance and seeing people either getting right or leaving because of the “heat”.
What does blackberries have to do with anything? I’m glad you asked (snicker, snicker)! Well, one day Anthony and his family were picking blackberries
(they grow wild in Louisiana and abundantly. Usually harvested in April/May) and he said as he was moving through the brush there were times when he
would find handfuls and there were times he would only find one or two.
However, he said when he would only find the one or two they were huge! As he began to ponder the situation he felt God speaking to him.
I’ll try and paraphrase. “The Lord began to show me that there are times when the church is flooded with people who come forward to be saved. Then there
are times when no matter how hard I preached there was hardly a response but when someone did come, they became solid Christians.
God told me that during those times when growth seemed to plateau, it was the time that we (as a church) needed to disciple the new believers. This was a
time when we needed to train them in Christian principles and to prepare them to minister to the next group of people who would come.”
"COMPARE YOUR WALK WITH CHRIST"................ October 24, 2017
I was talking with one of my cardiac rehab workers Friday while I was doing upper body weights, and I told him about my friend who was a
body builder and had a life-sized picture of Lou Ferigno’s biceps posted on the wall of his workout space .
The idea was to compare your arms with “The Hulk’s”. At the time when Ferigno played “The Hulk” his bicep was 22½”! That is almost two feet around!
Of course, I had to put my arm up for comparison. I was dwarfed!
Ephesians 5:1 says, “Beye therefore followers of God, as dear children;”
No less than 19 times in the Gospels Jesus says “Follow Me”. He is our example! We are to compare ourselves to Him!
The hymn says,
“Footsteps of Jesus, that make the pathway glow.
We will follow the steps of Jesus, where ‘ere they go!”
When I was first in college, one of my professors was working (during the summer) on his doctorate at Notre Dame – and he was younger than I was!
I looked at him and thought, “What is wrong with me? Why don’t I have degrees?”
First of all, I had spent my first 6 1/3 years after high school in the Air Force and although I could take some classes, my schedule did not
permit me to go full time.
Why was I comparing myself with him? The Word says I am to follow Christ, not someone else’s educational program!
I even compared myself to my pastor in Louisiana. Here he was pastoring a church of over 200 and he hadn’t gone to college at all!
What was my problem?
Do not compare your walk with God with anyone else!
Paul told the Corinthian church, TWICE, to follow him AS he followed Christ!
We are to compare ourselves with Christ and with the man or woman of God He has called us to be and no one else.
"Why was I comparing myself with him?"
"GOD GETS THE INCREASE".............. October 17, 2017
In the mid 80’s while living in Oregon, Bonny and I went to an event that featured Mike Warnke. Afterwards as we were leaving this young lady (about Bonny’s age) came up and said, “Bonny?”
Bonny was startled and remembered her name, Gia. It seemed that she and Gia had gone to high school together in Seattle in the 70’s more than 10 years before. Gia was so happy to have run into her and was excited to tell us about her conversion to Christ and she attributed it to watching Bonny’s walk in the Lord.
I’ve spoken before about people watching Christians and basing their acceptance of Christ on the other person’s walk. Of course Bonny started thinking about all the things she did and said that were not Christian-like, but like many others, Gia was blinded to it.
All she saw was someone who claimed the name of the Lord and lived it to their best.
Our testimony is not just in words but deeds as well! When I was in Spain there was one fellow Security Policeman we all witnessed to; Kramer. He was a self-avowed Satanist (I think mostly just to keep the Christians at bay) and told us all in no uncertain terms that he wanted nothing to do with Christ, God, the Bible, etc.
I rode Patrol with him once and he told me if I wanted to listen to my music I needed to use an ear piece because he didn’t want to listen to it. We all spent many hours praying for Kramer but it seemed the harder we prayed the further it drove him away.
After I came back to the states I was talking with one of the brothers, James, who was still in Spain. He was telling me how everyone was doing and then he told me that something exciting had happened to Kramer.
They were on patrol one afternoon and James said he looked at Kramer and just said (paraphrase), “Isn’t it about time you gave your heart to Jesus?” and Kramer said yes!
"Plowing, planting, weeding, watering, but again God gets the increase!"
"AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY"................. October 10, 2017
As Paul Harvey was famous for saying, “And now, the rest of the story!”
I left Zaragoza and the fellowship in July of 1975 for my next duty station in Rapid City, S.D. I wrote a few letters and sent a box of tracks and literature to the brothers back in Spain, but as time went on and the years passed I lost track of my friends.
Sometime in the 90’s I was able to find my old pastor, Ron Waggoner, in a web search. As we caught up with each other and how his family was doing I asked him about some of the brothers and sisters from Spain and he started getting really excited.
Our little fellowship, which had about 100 people attending on an average Sunday, had launched ministries! As a matter of fact, out of 100 attending, Pastor Ron told me there were at least 22 or 23 FAMILIES in full time ministry (as I was at the time)!
Brother Ray, the man who watched John Bickett for 6 months telling God if John stayed “saved” for six months, then he too would receive Christ – and he did!, was an evangelist.
One young man who had married on of Ron’s daughters, Charles Morris was in the ministry (he had been here in Las Vegas for a few years). Another, Ken, and his wife pastored in Kansas City and have even bers of the Spanish Baptist Pastor and they pioneered a work in Dodge City and are there to this day! There were many more stories of exciting ministry that had been birthed out of that little fellowship in the mid 70’s Zaragoza, Spain.
Acts 8:4 “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
Just as those who were transferred out just before I arrived, we were sent out, whether to a new base or to discharge and the Word of God was brought with us!
So now, take a good look around some Sunday morning or Wednesday night. Who has stepped forward to answer the call to ministry? Have you been called? Look in the balcony and pray for the youth that God would call them and that they would respond!
"What ministries is God birthing at Desert Hills right now?"
"MISSIONARY IN THE MISSION FIELD".............. October 3rd, 2017
“Wherever there is sin, there is a mission field and the Christian nearest it is a Missionary”
Bob Harrington, Chaplain of Bourbon Street, quoting one of his seminary professors.
Paul the Apostle makes his plea to have his case heard by Caesar and unwittingly the Roman government sent him into the mission field!
When I arrived at Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, in August of 1973, I had just missed a great revival on the base. When I came there were two families, the Smith’s and the Cisco’s, a half dozen teens and a couple airmen.
When the revival came, by way of a missionary who preached the Word to the men and women servicemen and to the families, the base commander, a full colonel, and one of the chaplains were among the dozens that were gloriously saved!
It started to have an impact on this small base (about 700 permanent party Air Force folk but every 90 days the Air Force sent air wings for training so that was another 100-200 people coming from bases in Italy, Germany, England, and Turkey) and the Word was being preached, the lost were being evangelized and saved!
The Air Force, in its infinite wisdom, decided that too many “religious” things were happening so orders were cut and people (Christians for the most part) were transferred out to other bases. Christians being sent to new mission fields!
During the time I was there, several Security Police were sent to a little radar site in southern Spain, Moron Air Base. It was a joint Air Force and Navy site with about 125 permanent party personnel.
They were sent there while Zaragoza Baptist Fellowship was in revival AGAIN! One young believer was asked to go to Moron and he said, “Why should I go when we are having revival?!?” and said “no.”
Out of over 100 Security Policemen, the supervisors came back to him, the only person they asked twice. And he told the church, after he returned, “My brain was saying ‘No.’ but my mouth said, ‘Yes!’.” And he went.
When he arrived, he was the only saved person, as far as he could tell. Then one day at the post office he saw a 3X5 card announcing a Bible study at a house. He went to the house and there was a young couple who had just gotten saved right before they were sent to Spain.
They knew nothing about the Word and even though this young man had only been saved about a year, they wrung him dry! They wanted to know everything he knew. So he told them.
Meetings began being held on the base and people began to come and hear the Word. A local missionary came on base and taught the people, the Airman from Zaragoza showed them what he knew from the Word.
He returned to Zaragoza after 90 days and was back in fellowship. As the church was kicked off base (the new chaplain didn’t like the competition! We were teaching the youth of the base scriptural principles but the chaplain was giving them cookies, pop and playing games) we were meeting at the Spanish Baptist Church downtown.
A few months after he returned the church, once again, was in revival! (Common theme) One night a lady from the fellowship of believers in Moron, came into that Spanish church and when she introduced herself (and her 9 children) everyone was curious as to why she had come all that way.
Pointing at the young man she said, “We’re here because of him!” and went on to tell us that over half the people on the base (civilians and military people) had received Christ!
Because of the Airman? No, because God moved upon the government to send this young man with a testimony to a group of people who needed to hear the Word!
"Are you where you are because God placed you there?"
"HERE'S A GOOD ONE"........... September 19th, 2017
I was a Corrections Officer for the state of Idaho. My friend and I published a bulletin, for the prison, entitled “Getting to Know You.” because of our high turnover rate. It was not unusual to have as many as 6 or 7 new officer’s in a month, almost 10% of a staff of one hundred.
We provided news and general info about new and old staff as well as interviewing the Director of Prisons and our own Deputy Warden, Pam Sonnen. When I interviewed Pam I asked, “If there was one thing you could tell all of us at the same time, what would it be?”
She gave, to me still, one of the best pieces of employer to employee advice I’ve ever heard. “Please come talk to me before I have to fire you.”
Understand the pressure Corrections Officers face, low pay, working with the worst people in the state, long hours, over time [in my first year at the prison I had 7 full weeks off and did not use 1 hour of vacation – that’s how much OT I had because we didn’t get pay, we got comp hours], and having administration and supervisors looking over your shoulder and questioning almost every decision you made.
So many times people were susceptible to whisperings of inmates. “Hey Boss! When you leave would you drop this letter off on your way home? I missed mail call.” “Officer Smith, can I get a cup of your coffee?” “My! Don’t you look nice Ms. So-and-so!” as the inmate flicks an imaginary piece of lint from the uniform.
Yes, simple things. Until you realize they are just a prelude to something bigger.
“Please come talk to me before I have to fire you.” Pam told me almost without exception she could rescue an officer at the brink of being fired if they would only come talk to her!
Spiritual application: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” I John 2:1
Sounds like good advice from God, ““Please come talk to me before I have to discipline you.”
"FEEL FREE TO LAUGH........... September 13th, 2017
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; goodmeasure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
I can relate to this verse! And of course there is a story.
When Bonny and I were Freshmen in college we had one teacher who was chronically late. 5, ten, even 15 minutes late every time! Often I would lead the class in testimony to fill the gap.
I worked at a nicer local restaurant that had a bar inside. On Friday and Saturday nights I would hear a knock on the little door under my drying table and I would open it and grab a very clean 5 gallon bucket and fill it with fresh ice.
As I was sharing this with the class I told them I was often reminded of this verse, “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together.” which is what I would do to the bucket of ice. In the middle of the story our professor walked in.
When I got done I asked, “Brother Simmons, can you relate to this verse?”
“Brother, the only time I can relate to this verse is when I watch you eat!”
"Feel free to laugh, feel free (because I did!)."
"WHITE WALLS"........... September 5th, 2017
As Pastor Scott was speaking about Paul calling the High Priest a “whited wall” in Acts 23:3 (just covering up the rot) I thought about the time I was stationed at Williams Air Base, AZ in 1970 and living in WWII barracks as a Security Policeman.
It seemed that every year the Civil Engineering squadron would tour our barracks and condemn it. Within a couple days we (Security Police) would receive gallons of paint (usually white or grey) and we would paint the barracks top to bottom.
A week later C.E. would come and “inspect” our barracks and before you could say “General Curtis E. LeMay” (Chief of Staff of the Air Force 1961-1965) our barracks passed inspection! It was no longer condemned (that is until the next inspection!).
Indeed they were “whited walls”. Looked all nice and new on the outside, but the inside was filled with rot, mold, and decay.
Many times the world looks like that. Shiny, blingy, flashing attractive lights or clothing, yet on the inside it is death, decay and rot.
Don’t be fooled by how nice something – even ideas! looks on the outside! Check under the hood, kick the tires, and look for signs of a cover up!
"Ask the Lord to show you the truth of the matter! Test the “spirit”!
"SEARCH LIGHT...A BOAT, THE FOG, TRAVELING AT NIGHT, AND FAITH".......... August 15, 2017
One morning, after working as fire watch all night in the oil field, I was piloting my Jo boat (30 foot workboat) back to the dock. It was still dark and it was very foggy. You couldn’t hardly see 20-30 feet ahead of you. It was normally a thirty minute ride from the warehouse to the dock through the canals going by the wells and other facilities. It was so foggy that even passing within 50 feet of a platform I was unable to see the lights of that platform and that 30 minute trip took a couple hours. The way through the canals there were pilings every 50-100 yards along the route on my right side. As long as I stayed to the left of the pilings I would be in the channel and didn’t have to worry about sandbars or running aground. The pilings had very wide strips of reflective tape towards the top to help guide the boat drivers. But the fog was so thick it was hard to see from one piling to the next! I kept the boat at idling speed (just in case I did hit a sand bar or land it wouldn’t be at full speed!) and I used the spot light on top of the cabin to search out the next piling on my trip home. Often I would spot a piling and slowly go past all the while desperately flashing the beam back and forth trying to find the next one. Many times I would lose “sight” of the last piling but still not be able to see the next one. Yet I knew that there would be another one somewhere up ahead and each time when I felt the most anxious, I would see the next piling and there was a sense of relief! I was on the right course! A little like faith, right? We believe that God has set out a course for us and He has provided “pilings” (the Word), the “reflective tape” (individual verses), and especially (Ahhh, you see it coming!) “The Light!” Jesus Christ, our Savior. A Christmas musical I sang in during college had this song in it “Light of the world, Light of the world, Light of the world come shine through me!”
So as the chorus of that famous hymn says: Thy guiding radiance above us shall be a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.
"Yes, just like the search light I used to find my way home, He is Jesus, our Beacon, the Light of the world,
pointing the way to salvation for the lost and guiding His church through the night and fog of the world."
"Chicken Mario"........ August 8, 2017
I make a dish called “Chicken Mario” with rice, deboned chicken, the Cajun trinity (onion, garlic, celery, and green peppers – I know that’s 4 things not 3, but nobody said the Cajuns were good with math!). Our pastor and his wife came over for dinner and she just had to have the recipe.
A couple weeks later we were talking and she said she had cooked “Chicken Mario” for some friends but they didn’t like it. I asked the following
(and the answers say it all)
Me “Was your chicken bad?”
Her “I didn’t have any chicken so I used turkey!” (yes there is a difference!)
Me “Was the rice not cooked right?”
Her “I didn’t have rice so I used potatoes! And I didn’t have any onions or garlic so I used mushrooms!”
You didn’t make “Chicken Mario!” I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t my dish!
So, then, that is what happens when one strays from the recipe – whether it is cooking or the Word!
“Well, we think of the Old Testament as just good stories, you know parables are just made up stories with good morals.”
“Salvation is just the start! Now you have to . . . (fill in the blank and it’s usually not found in the Word, but that’s okay . . .)”
“We believe that Jesus is just one of the ways to God and if that’s what you believe, that’s fine.”
“We’re all children of God.”
No, God is exact in His Word regarding salvation and being considered a Child of God. When people stray from the Word or try and add something to it,
then just like the sister who didn’t make Chicken Mario, it’s not Christianity.
"Once You Know what Motivates You"........... August 1, 2017
Since my earliest memory I always got up in the middle of the night and got something to eat. 4 or five pieces of bread, tablespoon of peanut butter, left over chicken, whatever I could find.
My parents became frustrated because of my nightly excursions and when they caught me they would punish me. Frequently I would spend the day in bed, no books, no toys, and especially no TV.
Yet it did not stop me. There was something that drove me and when I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning I had to get something to eat! The threat of punishment was outweighed by the prospect of eating.
So there were many pleasant Saturdays that I spent in my PJ’s in my bed with nothing to do. And during the summer, and whenever school was not in session, it was the same thing.
But I had to get something to eat! And I could not explain why. All I knew is that I was hungry – or at least thought I was.
This behavior continued during my teen years and into my time in the Air Force. We had machines that would heat up a cup of chicken and noodles, beef stew, or soup and I would be steady dropping in my .35 [yup! It was that long ago!] into the machine and pushing the button.
College days. This was a little more of a problem because a group of us young men stayed in a house owned by the college and there was a curfew. Yet somehow I would leave and go to the 24 hour store around the block and get an old, barely warm, shriveled up hot dog.
Even after Bonny and I were married I would raid the fridge late at night or early in the morning. I had to get up and eat, I had to!
It was 1982 and I was 30 and Bonny and I went to visit my folks in New Hampshire that summer. My family is a story telling family and we were all sharing stories from days gone by.
My mother made this statement, “From the time you were 2 until you were 4 when you got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom you had to pass through the kitchen. Your father and I would leave you a half sandwich or a piece of chicken, just a little something to nibble on.”
I was stunned! Didn’t they realize what they had done? They took this almost blank computer [my brain] and programmed it to get something to eat in the middle of the night! And they did that for almost two years!
Neither of them could tell me why they stopped but they remembered me getting up night after night and going through the kitchen in search of something to eat and they remembered punishing me for it.
When Bonny and I got back home to Louisiana, I knew that I had no will power over this thing! But what I did know is this verse,
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” II Corinthians 10:5
So I was almost instantly delivered from my eating habit! Uhhhhh, no. But every night I woke up and I felt that urge to get something to eat I DID NOT say that I was strong enough to battle this myself.
No, I quoted the Word! Over and over, night after night I would repeat this verse. “No! I am not hungry! I will bring this thought, this want to, into captivity and tell it that my desire will not override my God.”
So here is what I learned and what I know. Ready? You might want to write this down where you can see it if you are fighting a battle.
“Once you know what motivates you, it no longer controls you.”
Now if you want to give control over to that thing that hinders you, embarrasses you, separates you from your relationship with God, go ahead. But if you are tired of letting something or someone control you, cast down that imagination! Anything that puts itself ahead of God, even a thought, take it captive and say “No! I will not let you run or control my life!”
Do I still battle those thoughts sometimes at night? Yes! But what do I do? Get up and go to the fridge? No! I will quote that verse to myself because I know that I cannot allow it to take precedence over my relationship with God.
“Once you know what motivates you, it no longer controls you.”
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