Book Review: “A Century Turns, New Hopes, New Fears” by William Bennett

•February 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I just recently finished reading William J. Bennett’s book “A Century Turns, New Hopes, New Fears.” Inside the pages of this book the reader is afforded a very interesting and largely unbiased look at the past 20 years of American history from the eyes of a man who was intimately involved in that history. Beginning with the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency Bennett guides the reader through the policies, scandals, triumphs, and failures that shaped American history from 1988 to 2008. From the initiation of America’s failing war on drugs to how the Internet and technology has changed the American political process, Bennett gives an inside view of what and who shaped the moments in the past 20 years that have shaped into 21st century America.

I found this book to very captivating. Bennett’s style is an easy one in which no motive to gain or lose is apparent. His mostly non-partisan presentation of the facts in this book is very refreshing. This book was a stroll down memory lane for me as being a person in my early 30’s I was just becoming fully aware of the world around where this historical account begins. If you are interested in the American political process you would be hard pressed to find a book with more researched and documented book than this one. I would recommend that all read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Book Review: Pretend All Your Life by Joseph Mackin

•February 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Note:  This book will be on shelves April 1, 2010 from The Permanent Press.

I don’t read much fiction these days.  I was however offered an opportunity to read a new work of fiction by Joseph Mackin entitled “Pretend All Your Life.”  From the top let me say that this is an adult book and deals with several adult issues including murder, sex, grief, and the overall bleakness of the human condition. 

Centering around the life of Dr. Gallin, a New Y0rk City plastic surgeon, the book is set six months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  This is the first fictional book I have read that deals with this American tragedy and I have to say that Mackin takes this challenge and handles it well.  In the midst of exploring six days in the life of Dr. Gallin who had lost his son in the 9/11 attacks, Mackin manages to make something happen I did not think possible.  Mackin makes the time after 9/11 seem nostalgic.  With his references to popular culture issues at the time such as the musical artist Prince’s name change controversy Mackin allowed me to look back at that time in history through  a lense that filtered out the overall sadness and fear that surrounded this country.  I’m not sure if that is a good thing but it was refreshing none the less.

The book puts Dr. Gallin to the test though.  How far will he go to alleviate the grief he feels about not only his son, but his life in general.  Filled with regret and pain over trying to fill the voids in his life with fast living and worldly pleasures, Gallin is eventually faced with an opportunity to possibly make right some of the wrongs he has committed.  This book causes one to stop and ask how many wrongs do make a right as Gallin’s attempts to better his life lead to more destruction. 

In this short 200 page book Mackin manages to introduce a very intriguing cast of characters including Gallin’s mentor physician who has great faith, the son of a guerilla warrior trying to make his way in the land of promise, a nurse diagnosed with AIDS and his gay lover looking for vengance, and an unnamed character for this review who has been given a chance to simply press the reset button on life. 

This book was a slow read for me.  The overall story is an interesting one and I must say that the opening paragraph of chapter seven is one of the most well written pieces of literature I have read in some time.  The book ends abruptly and is untidy to say the least.  Overall, if you enjoy books that explore the condition of man without faith in anything but himself and the peril that comes when we trust ourselves, pick this book up.  If not, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Counseling Ethics

•February 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I have mentioned many times before on this site how much I enjoy the publishing company known as Focus Press.  One moment I look forward to each month is the arrival of their Think Magazine in my mailbox.  As I find with all the other issues, this month’s is not only invigorating spiritually but causes time of reflection and thought. 

In big letters on the front of this month’s magazine is a question.  The question is GOT ETHICS?  Having sat through countless hours of ethics training in my field, I hesitated at first to even begin reading this issue.  Let’s face it, ethical training is boring, especially in training with people who lack the ability to make the training at least somewhat interesting. 

In review though, this issue is very well put together and covers many fields of employment that offer many opportunities to behave unethically.  If nothing less, this issue takes the post-modern view of no absolute rights or wrongs and smashes it into the ground.  As I read it I envisioned myself rolling it up and using it to smash the bug which is relativism. 

The article that most caught my eye however was written by Bud Lambert.  Lambert’s view on the ethical standard of Christian counselors is excellent.  He writes from the standpoint of someone who does Christian counseling and I would have liked to see him address counselors who are Christian but work in the secular world as I do.  His primary message is spot on though.  HIs point that everything we do, including our work, should be centered around the gospel. 

The beauty of working as a counselor (if you work in an organization that is worth working for) is that as a counselor, you have the liberty to develop and implement your own styles and theories, so long as you remain within ethical standards.  Honestly, as a Christian, remaining withing those ethical guidelines should be very simple.  Christians should live the gospel.  This is very different from living the law, which sadly is either forgotten or not taught to many Christians today.  If we live the gospel, that belief that Christ crucified and our placing Him at the center of our lives shines forth, then there can be no ethical dilemma. 

Unfortunately, many take this to mean that we must impose our lives and beliefs on our clients as I discussed in my thoughts regarding AA not being a Christian program.  This is simply not the case though.  If Christian counselors will look at their clients as being in the same boat as themselves, lost souls in need of a savior, why would we ever violate their rights?  This is a question those of us working in the secular world must ask ourselves though.  However, we must remember that the best counselors say hardly anything at all but rather guide their clients to find the answers themselves.  The truth is, if you are a Christian counselor or therapist and find yourself preaching to your client more than listening to them, you are possibly in the wrong field all together. 

Herein lies a dilemma, especially for those of us who grew up in Christian homes.  As Christians, we have the law of God written on our hearts (Psalms 40:8), yet, a large number of those we come in contact with in the secular world do not.  I personally work primarily with drug addicts and the cycle of addiction often stems from the fact that the parents of my clients abused substances as well.  Let’s just say that going to church and training their children in the ways of the Christian faith was not a priority of many of my client’s parents.  So, ethically, how can we as Christian counselors in the secular world get that law into their heart?  On our terms, we can’t.  Yes, we could sit and preach to our clients and call them sinners and say things like “be more like me and the people I go to church with.”  That can’t be done ethically though in the secular world as again, our employers have ethical standards that we must abide by.  If one of those standards is not imposing religious beliefs, at what point does it become sinful to ignore your employer’s order, a sin (1 Tim. 6:1-2), in order to fulfill your Christian ministry?  This could be quite the quandary unless you believe that two wrongs make a right. 

The answer though is quite simple.  Deut. 8:18 reminds us that it is God’s doing that you are in the place you are.  He has given you your job and it is He who has provided the opportunity to provide counsel to someone who has lost their way in this world.  This is quite the honor.  It is impossible for you to glorify God while disobeying your employer.  You can best glorify God in the role you have been given by living a Christian life and being there, as a Christian, for these lost people. 

What I find often is the fact that invariably, many of my clients will eventually come around to their faith questions in time.  It is part of who they are and as that exploration of a person’s psyche takes place, the faith and beliefs of a person is a stop on that road if you are providing proper counsel.  Normally by this time a good rapport is in place and an opportunity to discuss your faith arises without having to push them into it.  Remember, our role as Christians is to proclaim the gospel when the opportunity arises, and there is nothing unethical about saying the following statement when asked what you believe: “I believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came to Earth and lived a sinless life so that He could die as a sacrifice in order to atone for the sins of this world.”  That’s the gospel and the seed that Paul talks about planting.  There is no guarantee that the client will want to discuss that further, will agree with your belief, or will even understand what you are saying (I’ve had who is Jesus”‘ asked before after that statement).  This is not unethical though because it is done on the client’s time and in response to their query.  Often times this leads to more questions on their part and what is revealed many times is a prior faith in Christ lost, pain stemming from over-bearing, law-loving Christians, or failure to be able to forgive other Christians who have hurt them in the past.  What has happened though is an opportunity to ask your client, “would you like to address your spiritual confusion and questions on future treatment plans?”  This door that the client opens themself is a gift from Heaven and blows any ethical dilemma out of the water so long as you don’t force the issue 

If you are doing your job right, your client cares what you think and your opinion and thoughts matter.  Often in the counselor and client role, there is a level of admiration and following that will take place and a bridge that is formed between the client and counselor.  The Christian counselor’s role in the secular world is to make sure your bridge always leads to the foot of the cross.  If you reside there, your client will visit there as well through your example, kindness, empathy, compassion, words, and life.  Note, the word “guidance” is not in that list.  We don’t guide people, the gospel does.  If we live it and proclaim it when the opportunity is given, we can trust in Christ’s promises regarding doing those two things. 

I hope this is helpful to someone out there.  Ideally, all counseling services would be Christian based.  That is not the world we live in or have been promised.  When we believe that God is in control of all though, it makes this life easier.  I believe that every person who steps into my office is there because God wanted them to be there.  Sometimes I fail to be the Christian I should be but all those times are forgotten when you see that one client begin to ask questions about Jesus.  Is it easy to be a Christian and balance the role of counselor in a secular world?  No it is not, but we have not been promised lives of ease.  We are promised lives of opportunity though and Chrisitan counselors have multiple opportunities to not only show our clients what a Christian can do in this world, but to show our employers and peers as well.   

In closing, here are a few things that I remind myself of that help me serve my client base better as a Christian employee and therapist:

  • We don’t take credit for the changes in people.  If we take credit for the good, we must take credit for the bad.  Apply the same to the gospel – don’t take credit when someone leaves your time together wanting to learn more of the gospel – all honor goes to God.
  • Have a list of preachers/teachers in surrounding areas who you are comfortable making referrals to should a client want more Christian guidance than you feel ethically comfortable giving. 
  • Remember the law only convicts – many of your clients are already convicted and are there by conviction – the law does not save so don’t give clients a list of must-do’s and do-not’s. 
  • Don’t fail to remind your clients that you are a fragile human as well that will not always meet a perfect standard.
  • If you have questions about your approach ethically, talk with your employer/boss.
  • If you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted toward unethical behavior (not just imposing your beliefs), go talk to your employer and ask that the appropriate changes be made to relieve that temptation or weakness you may be experiencing.
  • Remember that counselor in the Greek is a combination of the words “with purpose.”  If you are a Christian remember your sole purpose for being on Earth and find a way to glorify God through both your role as counselor and employee.  It’s there. 
  • Remember that Christ’s discussion of doing “for the least of these,”  (Matthew 25)wasn’t about people in the church.  If you have to work or think a little harder to juggle your roles of human and Christian, then so be it. 
  • Pray!!!! 

Pilgrim’s Map of the Day

•February 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Take time to click and read these various items that are sparking my interest lately:

 

  • Remember these names.  STACEY CAMPBELL, TODD BENTLEY.  If you hear those names, grab your Bible quick and start checking what they say against the actual word of God.  Someone has done a good job of showing these people’s errors in the Parkinson’s disease PSA video below.

Did You Miss the Second Coming? Here’s Another False Jesus

•February 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It seems there have been a lot of these peeking their heads up lately.  Did they say he has his own 24 hour cable channel?  Well, I’m just glad that this time Jesus gets to live in a million dollar home.  He deserves it.  This is gross!

Read 1 John 2:18

Discerning a False Prophet: Damon Thompson’s Ramp Points Down (Secret Mountain of God’s Presence part 2)

•February 8, 2010 • 52 Comments

Note that Damon Thompson has been contacted by e-mail and given an opportunity to answer the questions his teaching raises up. At this time, no response has come from Mr. Thompson.

As we started in part one of this series of discerning the messages delivered by Mr. Damon Thompson, we will now continue discerning the same message. Before doing so, allow me to say one thing. I am going to attempt to refrain from using some of the more derogatory terms when describing Damon Thompson. This is not because my thoughts that his teaching is absolute apostasy has changed. I firmly believe that scripture points to the fact that the message he delivers is heretical and as we will find in this post, aligns him with some extremely dangerous men in the church today and he relishes in these relationships. Let’s continue

In our last post, we stopped this exercise in discernment at the five-minute mark. In this post we will pick up where we left off. For review, Thompson in his lesson has just finished denying that the book of John is a gospel (false) and that God is monotheistic (one God). Refer back to part 1 for reference. Note that the format of this is that the time of the podcast is listed so that you may go back and listen yourself to verify the accuracy of what is being discerned.

  • 05:01 – 05:37 – In this section, Damon Thompson discusses “his belief” based on John 1:14, that our focus should not be on “this is what God is saying he’s going to do,” but on “this is what God’s doing.” He tells his congregation self-help group that “I believe that is firmly on our shoulders. My sovereignty theology will not let me believe that God has written a date on His calendar where healing is going to come back into the Earth again.” Here’s the kicker, the total escape from Christianity: “I believe that God is looking for people that will make the adjustments.” Notice that in 36 seconds of teaching we have 3 “I/me believes,” one brief the word of God says.
    • It is obvious what is going on in this case. Damon Thompson is setting up his followers to someone fall into this trapping of modern-day faith healing. Let’s just break this down a little bit.
      • How can a Christian speaker say that our focus should not be on what God says He is going to do? This statement undermines the very hope that is at the center of Christian teaching. We hope for the return of Christ. We hope for the stripping away of our decaying and sinful bodies. We hope for a Heavenly home. We hope to meet our Savior. These are all future events and are central to the teaching of Christianity. Paul’s exhortations in the epistles all provided encouragement to hold on the the hope that they gained through their learning of the gospel.
      • Instead, Damon Thompson says they should put their focus on what God is doing. This is wrong. Christians put their focus on WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE!!! It is understandable that Damon does not teach this though because to teach that alone would unravel everything that he is building to in his message.
    • Regarding “Sovereignty Theology,” I must say that this is correct. The fact that God is the one and only God in the universe is true and is supported in scripture (Isaiah 45:5-12 just for one). Sadly though, Damon Thompson’s stated faith in this does not support his “belief” about what it means.
      • Damon Thompson “believes” that because God is sovereign that He does not have a date set when “healing” will come back into this world. First off, that means that you believe that at some point it left. For something to come back, it had to leave. Would Damon Thompson give us with the timeline when that happened? I can provide for when it left.
        • 1 Cor. 13:9-10 tells us that when “that which is perfect has come” prophecy, tongues, and knowledge will pass away. Uh-oh, that’s a problem because Mr. Thompson’s message we are discerning contains all three of those things that scripture (a.k.a., that which is perfect) tells us will go away. That really explains why Mr. Thompson and his ilk do not like to spend much time in scripture.
        • Question: If Jesus or the inspired writers promise something will go away, would God undermine their inspired belief? Mr. Thompson apparently thinks they would despite the fact that EVERYTHING that God want delivered through Christ to this world was told to His apostles and the inspired writers of the scriptures (John 15:15).
    • Damon Thompson believes that God is “looking for people who will make the adjustments.” What adjustments? The ones that say, don’t worry what the Biblical evidence is, trust us, we know? Those adjustments? I would ask what about James 1:22-24? Does it say anywhere in those verses to adjust the word of God? It says do, but I miss the part where it says adjust. However, in order to follow Damon Thompson’s teaching, that is what must be done. You have to be willing to say to yourself that this man Damon Thompson knows more than what the scripture says. That he himself is somehow inspired enough to read the same scripture that you read but receive a completely different understanding and revelation that for some reason you don’t see. Give yourself more credit that that. Damon Thompson is preying on people with low self-esteem and is looking them in the face and calling them stupid. What adjustments though?
  • 06:00 – 06:50 – Here, Damon Thompson reveals something to us. He goes on a tangent about how he never wanted to be “T.D. Jakes,” or “Joyce Meyer,” but tells us what he did get involved in ministry for. Was it because he wanted to obey the gospel call to seek and save the lost using the power of the word of God and Christ crucified? Nope. He got into ministry because of “those stories.” Not the stories of Christ’s pain and suffering on the cross or spotless lamb being killed for all mankind, no, the stories about the apostles going out and healing. Damon Thompson wanted to become a minister so he could heal lame people. That is not my assumption, but his confession. I ask, of the original apostles or even of the 3000 saved on the day of Pentecost, which of them accepted Christ as their savior so they could “heal people?” Seems like glory-hounding to me.
  • 07:34 – 08:00 – This will be the final piece of discernment on this lesson. I believe that you can listen to it yourself and now see that you need to be armed with the armor of God before listening to a man such as Damon Thompson teach. One glaring reason why is revealed during this portion of his message. During this section, Damon Thompson discusses his affiliation and preaching in the church of a proven heretic in today’s church. This man is the Bishop Carlton Pearson
    • If you do not know who Carlton Pearson he is one of the front-runners in the inclusion gospel movement. What is the inclusion gospel? There is not enough time to fully discuss it but this is taken from Carlton Pearson’s own book marketing:

      What if Hell didn’t really exist?

    • Have you ever asked how a loving God could condemn most of His children to eternal torment? Bishop Carlton Pearson did, and his answer will change everything you ever thought you knew about God, eternity and God’s plan for humankind.

      In The Gospel of Inclusion, Bishop Pearson courageously explores the exclusionary doctrines of mainstream religion and concludes that according to the evidence of the Bible and irrefutable logic, they cannot be true. Instead, he offers us the Gospel of Inclusion—the simple, stunning truth that everyone has already been saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

      In this astonishing book, Pearson argues that the controlling dogmas of religion are the source of much of the world’s ills, and that we should turn our backs on proselytizing and holy wars and focus on the real Good News: that all of humanity is indeed loved by the Divine!

      The Gospel of Inclusion will transform your perception of religion’s role in your life and give you a priceless gift: hope for the future.

      • Is this someone you want teaching your children to be running around with. Here’s the problem with Damon Thompson: because he spends so much time being blown from one doctrine to the next, we never know what it is he truly believes. How can someone who claims to love Jesus and the gospel delivered in the gospel spend time with someone such as Carlton Pearson in any setting other than trying to show him the error of his inclusion doctrine? Don’t fail to recognize that if Carlton Pearson is correct, then Jesus Christ Himself went to the cross for nothing. Afterall, God loves everyone that even if Christ would not have gone to the cross, God’s love would have saved them anyway. It’s a disgusting theology. It is this kind of teaching that fuels the anti-religious attitude that The Ramp takes on. Is this healthy for anyone seeking Christ?

Now, ask yourself what influence Carlton Pearson has on Damon Thompson and the message he teaches.

In Response to Comments – Difference Between Discernment & Judgment

•February 6, 2010 • 2 Comments

It would seem that the response to my post Discerning A False Prophet: Damon Thompson pt. 1 received the negative feedback I had expected.  As I stated in the post, a few of the followers of Damon Thompson are lifelong peers of mine.  That means that they both knew me in my past and know me today.   Sadly, it would seem that rather than looking at the current state of one’s life, many of these people prefer to focus on the problems and indiscretions in my life past.  Sadly, they fail to mention or notice the fact that many of these indiscretions and personal failings have been discussed or disclosed in various postings on this blog.  To this day, I never fail to recognize that I am indeed one of the worse sinners I have ever known and that daily, I fall short of deserving the grace that God freely offers to us all.  Just in the name of full disclosure though, and so those “friends” of mine can hopefully rest easy tonight, allow me to make a listing of some of my glaring faults as a person both past and present:

  1. I suffered greatly in my past with drug and alcohol addiction
  2. I failed to be a Christian example in my youth and even early adulthood despite having the law of God written all over my heart.
  3. My wife and I married too soon and under difficult circumstances which led to problems bred both in immaturity and a lack of faith and we had a brief separation from one another.  Out of respect for my wife, I will not provide more detail than that, if you can’t understand that then you should take a step back and evaluate yourself.
  4. I fail often to be the Christian man I should be around my co-workers.
  5. I replaced drugs and alcohol with food in my life and still struggle with eating too much.
    1. NOTE THAT FOR ALL OF THESE REASONS, I WILL NEVER AND HAVE NEVER TAUGHT IN A “LOOK AT ME,” OR “BE MORE LIKE ME” FASHION.  NOT ONLY IS THAT STYLE OF TEACHING UNBIBLICAL, BUT HOW COULD I EVER TELL SOMEONE TO BE MORE LIKE ME WHEN I SIN EVERYDAY.  THAT IS WHY WE ARE ONLY GIVEN PERMISSION TO TEACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED.  MY CHANGES LIFE IS NOT THE GOSPEL & MORE IMPORTANTLY, AS THIS IS A HIGHLIGHT OF MANY OF YOUR SERVICES, YOUR CHANGED LIFE IS NOT THE GOSPEL.

Before moving forward, allow me to say this.  At the heart of my attempt to properly discern Damon Thompson’s false teaching is a fear that souls will be lost.  To my friends, former or current, excluding only a select few, when I was away from the Lord in the ways listed above, where were you?  Where were you in my life telling me that you feared for my soul?  Where were you to point out my sins in love?  Where were your prayers? For some of you, you were along side me in the same acts of sin.  You others, where were you?

Those are just a few but some of the more glaring ones that I myself have trouble forgiving myself for.  I can understand how many would have trouble forgetting them as well, despite the fact that from many of you and your loved ones, I have asked forgivness.  One of the most confusing sides of your comments is thought that many of those sins I listed above are the very ones that you say your Ramp is for.  I am confused by your condemnation.  My problems, the ones that many of you bring up in your attacks, are the ones that you claim to be most equipped to help one overcome.  Strange.  SOme of you pointed me to Matthew 7 when your sole purpose of your comment was to cast judgment on me.

This next statement is one that I hope all pay great attention to as well.  Yes, I am asking some to take my word on this because I am not posting the comments because some state things that are completely untrue (lies).  Here’s the funny thing though.  Of the negative comments received about the post discerning Damon Thompson’s teaching, NONE, ZERO, NOT A ONE, provide any defense of Damon Thompson’s teaching or even attempt to disprove the context of the post.  Instead, they point their finger at me, the one using scripture to disprove the teaching of the false teacher, personally.  I think that fact is important and should be noted.  It’s a ploy that has been used in politics for years.  When you can’t disprove the facts, just attack the opponent personally.  Also glaring is the fact that all of the comments are provided anonymously with fake e-mail addresses.  I am supposing that many of you do this for you all know that I know you and your pasts as well and that to judge me currently by my past would open you up for similar judgment.  As I am never anxious to do that, I can understand many of you not wanting the same.  Even before posting about Damon Thompson though, I attempted to contact him to let him know and give him an opportunity (that still stands) to defend his false teaching.  To this moment, I have not heard a word from him.

I would hope that you reading this would stop and ask yourself why?  Why is it that when I read that post I felt a need to justify Damon Thompson’s false teaching by pointing out the sins of another person?

In closing, some of you seem to be struggling with understanding the difference between DISCERNMENT and JUDGMENT.  I could write to no end on this difference.  I would think it best to simply point you to the New Testament though.  Especially in the Epistles, was Paul “judging” these churches because of their erroneous ways or was he discerning their teaching against the true and holy gospel of Jesus Christ.  I won’t suppose any of your intelligence needs me to answer that for you.  I will remind you of the words of Christ in, despite what your guru Damon Thompson says, THE GOSPEL of John 12:48, “…There is a judge for the man who rejects me; the word that I spoke will be his judge on the last day.”  I am sorry that you are blinded at this time to see it, but you are not being taught by Damon Thompson “the word that I spoke.”  If you discern, break down, compare, what that man is saying to the pure word of God, there is a vast void of inconsistency.

In conclusion, what I do is out of love.  Christian and brotherly love.  I would have dirty hands if I did not do what I am doing.  I once had the dirtiest of hands by my own making and if those sins of my past prevent you from seeing the truth plainly written on this blog, please forgive me.  When I had those dirty hands though, you did not see me doing what I am doing today.  I know that Christ has forgiven me though and through his help daily he guides me to do not my will but His.  Is it Christ’s will that you throw stones at me in defense of a man such as Damon Thompson?  Is it Christ’s will that you forget that many of my sins you were beside me in so that you can defend Damon Thompson?

If you hating me, criticizing me, or reminding me of a past that is long forgiven by God is the price to be paid to cause you to wake up and see what it is you are being fed and led astray by, then it is well with my soul.  However, the sins of my past will not justify you in the eyes of God when he asks why, now knowing and having seen a glimpse of the heresy being spewed from Damon’s mouth, you kept on cheering and supporting him.  Your initial inclination to personally attack me rather than go to scripture to measure what I am saying should be proof enough for you that you are missing something.