The 9578 Blog

My Testimony In Real Time


I have been engaged in a 40-day study of the Gospel According to John. I’ve reached Chapter 11 where Christ brings Lazarus back from the dead.

The devotional for this passage emphasized Jesus sharing in the mourning of Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary. I cannot emphasize how much passages like that mean to me- that we have a compassion Lord that shares our sorrows with us just as he did with Lazarus’ family.

But it was when I read the passage (John 11:1-57) in my Life Recovery Bible today.  The notes regarding John’s account bring up a slightly different angle: Christ has the power to bring us back to life, but our graveclothes have got to go.  Let me explain. If you’ve read my blog, you have read about some of my addictions. Perhaps I am taking more of a reformed theological approach to my plight, but I believe those addictions and other sinful behavior rendered my soul completely dead and incapable of choosing God even if I wanted to (which I didn’t). Like Lazarus, Jesus raised me from the dead. But, as Scripture said, Lazarus had been in the grave for four days by the time Christ arrived. Although I have no experience with dead bodies, I assume that the body and graveclothes of Lazarus were fairly ripe by then. It’s no wonder that Jesus’ first command after raising Lazarus from the dead was “Unwrap him and let him go!.”

I never thought that graveclothes could be allegorical for sins and addictions. But there is.

In taking the journey of recovery and doing it as a result of my new life in Christ has been difficult lately. I believed I knew what my problems were and what sins needed to be addressed when I started. But in learning to surrender my life to Jesus, I’ve come to realize that I had a lot more graveclothes than I thought I did. This led to frustration on my part

This led to frustration on my part. Frankly, that is one of the reasons I haven’t been writing lately. How silly this is. How could I honestly think that I would master all of my sins in the two months since becoming a Christian?

But as I was reminded by a couple of men who are turning out to be mentors, the process of sanctification will take the rest of my life.

One day at a time. One step at a time.



Writer’s Block

Anyone who’s listened to oldies radio or classic rock radio will have no doubt run into the 1970 song “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago. The song, written by group keyboardist Robert Lamm, dealt with having trouble writing a song.

So it is with me. This is the usual pattern of things whenever I try to get a blog up and running. I begin with white hot intensity. Then, as I begin to lose beginners enthusiasm, I sink into writers block. While I’m experiencing writer’s block, I make a few feeble attempts at getting content up. Then, I give up dejected before heading to the next project.

I refuse let that happen with this blog.

In the first place, this blog is a journal of my faith. Thus, it is the most personal blog I have ever wrote. I want to use it to give glory to my Lord Jesus, and document my thought as I strive to move closer to Him in this process of sanctification. I want it to be honest and real.

So I am making an honest attempt at plowing through this spell of writer’s block in hopes of emerging out on the other side into, Lord willing, a fertile creative period where I can use whatever marginal writing ability I possess to be a blessing to Jesus and other people.

So how am I doing?

Good. I am over a month into my Christian walk and I am joining Hope City Church in Waterloo. Currently we are going through a series on the book of Nehemiah. Pastor Q seems like he is using the theme of restoration in our lives and our community as his approach.

But lately I find myself getting into my old manner of thinking. I suppose it was bound to happen at some point. Although I am a new creation in Jesus, the old man still lingers. I keep thinking of ways I could volunteer at the church or use what I think my abilities are, I have to check myself. Am I wanting to do these things for God’s glory or my own? Do I want to be a leader because I want to serve or do I want to be one because I want top level status in my church? Do I have any business thinking I can serve in the first place?

I’m asking these things because I want my motivation Jesus-centered rather than me-centered. And I suppose that is one of the reasons I suspect that, after numerous attempts at a Christian life, I finally actually became a Christian. I never asked myself in previous attempts if whatever it was I was doing meshed with what God wanted me to do.

Maybe that struggle with trying to come up with some self-serving glorious content for you, dear reader, is the reason I got writer’s block to begin with. I suppose that is possible. It’s pretty easy to slip into old modes of thinking. And since I write about my faith, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that Satan would attempt to play on my self-aggrandizing to snuff out whatever writing talent I have that may be useful to the Kingdom.

So where do I go from here?

Well, right now, my road leads to my living room where I will do my devotional and pray before I head into work.

I wish I could think of a better way to end this post but I have writer’s block.

Gifts and Transition

It has been quite the month for me since becoming a Christian.

Again, as I have written before, I’ve made attempts at a Christian/religious life before and I have even said the sinner’s prayer asking Jesus into my heart on multiple occasions. But I think I want to mark February 5th as the day it took hold because that was the day I asked Jesus to be Lord upon the throne of my life, not just a feel-good drug to serve as a temporary respite from the severe depression caused mostly by my selfish lifestyle. As I understand it, a Christian is one who accepts Jesus as Lord of their lives, so that would be the day I became a Christian.

So now what?

I have decided to join Hope City Church, which led me to the chapel where Pastor Q was leading Growth Track, which can be best described as Hope City’s answer to a membership class. Since I have to work every other weekend I will not be able to complete all four classes until sometime in May!

This particular class “Step Two: Connect” goes over things that most membership classes are devoted to. Basic beliefs. The mission of our church. How the church governmental structure works, etc.

But it was the section of the class entitled “Finding Community” that I found most encouraging and a little scary. In a future class I will be attending (again, probably sometime in May), I (and others in the group will be receiving a sizable questionnaire that will attempt to pinpoint where our strengths are and what areas we could serve in if we chose to serve.

There are some areas I think I could serve in off the top of my head. I am told that I am a good writer. I used to teach U.S. History and know a little bit of church history and theology from my past attempts at a Christian life but I don’t know if that’s of any use for Hope City.

There is one more thing, however. For about four years, I have been serving as an all-vinyl DJ spinning mostly classic Hip-Hop from the 90’s and early 2000’s. Above is a picture of me spinning  I play in bars in the area. I told my lead pastor this. Since by my estimation, we are roughly the same age (give or take a couple of years), he knew what I was talking about.

I had ideas of what I could do for my church. Fundraisers for missions. Dances. A fun time for people in the church my age. But then again a lot of what I am spinning probably wouldn’t be appropriate for a church crowd at all.

Then I start to ask myself if I should be spinning these tunes at all. It’s not that I endorse the message of much of them. Since they are older tunes they hold a nostalgic quality to me and people roughly around my age. And I love music so much. I love making a crowd dance and laugh and have a good time. But I wonder if I should give it up.

I believe I have a gift but I don’t know if I can use it in my new faith. And I don’t really think I should compartmentalize my life and faith. Any thoughts?



Leg Troubles

I haven’t stopped writing for the blog but the pace has been pretty glacial the last couple of days. I have a fairly good sized pain behind my knee which is extending into my left back side. Some friends and co-workers believe it’s the sciatic nerve. I am not sure what it is.

I haven’t been to the doctor to see what it is because, well, I don’t want to spend money on such things unless I absolutely have to mainly for insurance reasons. I don’t understand how insurance works in general and my plan which I have through work in particular. And I don’t like to spend money on something when I don’t know exactly know how much I am going to be spending on.

If you wouldn’t mind, dear reader, could you spare some prayers for your blogger? Pray that the Lord heals this pain. Or please pray that if the time comes where I have to visit a doctor that it wouldn’t break my finances.

And if there is anything I can pray for you about, feel free to comment and I will do so.

And the darkness has not…

I began a devotional today called “HIStory,” which is a six-week devotional through the Gospel According to John. I’ve always loved this Gospel because, of all of the Apostles, I think John would have been a great poet or lyricist for a band.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:1-5.

I can picture the opening of his gospel being sung in musical form by some progressive rock band from the late 60’s and early 70’s.

But one thing I’ve always wondered about the word used in verse 5. The ESV translation that I am fond of using says the darkness has not “overcome it.” Other translations are different. In the New American Standard Bible, the darkness did not “comprehend it.” In the American Standard Version, the darkness “apprehended it not.” The New Living Translation has my favorite: the darkness “can never extinguish it.”

So what is this word? I have consulted some commentaries on this but, to be honest with you, I cannot understand what is being said. Translating the true meaning of a word from one language to another is a delicate business in these times. Translating ancient text appears to require a lot of heavy lifting that this young Christian is not ready for yet. Somewhere down the road, perhaps, if the Lord wills it.

I don’t want to sound nit-picky at all when it comes to what John 1:5 is saying. But I will tell you why I love the NLT version.

As a rebel sinner brought into the family of God for reasons only known to Him (it certainly has nothing to do with my upstanding moral character or any good choices I made), I have switched sides in a spiritual battle. I turned my back on a life of sin that I loved before Jesus, to paraphrase Ezekiel 36:26, traded my heart of stone for a heart of flesh.

For someone like me who has given Christ the throne despite the fact that I am not a trusting person by nature, I need constant assurance of God’s inevitable victory. I don’t care what the darkness comprehends or apprehends. I want it defeated- especially the darkness that lives within me. I need to know, especially in these troubled times, that God not only knows what is going on but is on the move in the middle of it completely unphased by the slings and arrows of human beings. I have to know that all of the darkness of the world (and Heaven knows that you can turn on the 24-hour news outlets or read social media for five minutes and see one hideous example after another of it) will not extinguish the light of Jesus.

It’s not that I think those other words are wrong. Certainly, we who love living in the filth that our sin produces like one of those people on the TV show “Hoarders” cannot comprehend it or understand it when someone shows up with a roll-on dumpster and cleaning supplies.

But I like the darkness cannot “extinguish” the light for a more personal reason. I’m thinking back to those early days of my life when I thought my father (may he rest in peace) could do anything and everything. I had that understanding that my father could protect me and keep the bad things away from me. Life and experience revealed that my father was a human being with some great aspects to him and some that were not so great (I am sure my son experienced this with me at some point).

For the longest time, I wanted my dad to be perfect. Those were misplaced feelings on my part since my father (like everyone else on earth) could not be perfect if he tried. But as I sit here typing this I think that those desires were natural. I’m thinking they were put into my by The Holy Spirit with the intention that I aim that feeling that “my dad can do anything” and aim it right at God.

I believe my Father in Heaven can do the impossible. The Holy Spirit has already done the impossible by penetrating the light that is Jesus into the darkness that was my existence. And even though my darkness was vast and seemingly impenetrable, it did not extinguish the light of Jesus. And it is the Lord who is my protector, defender, comforter, and all of the things I first thought my father could do.

The darkness cannot extinguish the light of Christ.

And for that, all I can say is Amen.

The Verses That Make Me Cry

Just for a fun, I tuned in on YouTube to a debate between Reformed Baptist Apologist Dr. James R. White and The American Atheist President David Silverman in what has turned out to be a very lively debate. The duration is over three hours so, obviously, I am watching it in bits and pieces. But I have to tell you it has been a very lively and spirited debate thus far. You can check it out here.

Perhaps the biggest thing I came away with thus far (I’m only half way through it) is the opening statement and first rebuttal. He painted the picture of Jesus coming into creation as being like a rescue party to a shipwreck at sea. And when the ship came in, the people not only were happy being in the shipwreck, the people at sea spat on the rescuers and dove beneath waterline because they didn’t want to be saved. They liked where they were. Much like human beings in sinful rebellions. Much like I was for most of my life.

That kind of language isn’t the popular method of modern evangelization. We are usually implored to come to Jesus because of the overwhelming sense of hurt and pain that many of us have in this life. Certainly, this is not to minimize those true feelings. We have been hurt. We are in pain.

But let’s be honest, if many of us look back on our lives, we’ve done more than our share to hurt others and to cause them pain. We have been victims but we’ve also been perpetrators spurred on by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

We’re rebels. Criminals. And as you can deduce from the sins that I have confessed on here, I was an accomplished criminal. I’ve hurled insults, hit, and spat upon the Lord, my creator just as much as those who lined the path where He carried the cross that would be used to crucify him.

I’ve heard it said that Christianity is the last refuge of scoundrels. It is appropriate that I be a Christian being that I am a scoundrel. And when I read this passage from Romans 5 again the other day, I began to cry.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” -Romans 5:6-11.

For a rebel like me, who has been straining under the weight of a condemning conscience and years of sinfulness, these are the words I want to hear. I need to hear them. There are so many things in my life that cause me, like Adam and Eve, to run and hide from the Lord. Things that I believe keep Him at arms distance. To read those words gives life, peace, and rest for my weary, selfish, and rebellious soul. I tear up when I read them or even think about them.

Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God came looking for me. My sin caused me to run from Him. But when I look at the words of the Apostle Paul, I see there is no reason to run from my Creator. Jesus knows of my rebellious acts. It’s why He came to die. I could not make the peace with Him. He made it with His blood.

And I have tears just thinking about this.

Praise the name of Jesus.

No Room For Pessimism

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28. 

Another blog about Romans 8:28? Yes.

I finished Dr. R.C. Sproul’s brief devotional “Understanding God’s Purpose” this morning. It was a good study and I intend to read more work by him somewhere down the line. In yesterday’s devotional, he brought up Romans 8:28. Paraphrasing what he said in the devotional, this verse leaves no room for pessimism in the life of a Christian.

At the center of all of this is the fact that I am a natural-born pessimist. If anything can go wrong, I’ll be the first to see it and I will be the first to worry myself senseless about it. It’s a family trait. My father tended to hide his pessimism well but my grandmother was the queen of worriers.

There’s my car which takes a few seconds to start after I turn the ignition in addition to my concern over how the new transmission was installed. There is a pain behind my left knee which extends into my backside (some people have claimed this is sciatic nerve pain. I haven’t looked up the particulars on WebMD since I fear to become a hypochondriac). There are job-related stresses; the worry over how the children are faring; and how to pay for the wedding that I pray will happen soon.

Where did all of this come from? I can’t testify for anyone else but me, but as I sit here thinking about it, there are a few things at work.

First, there is the tendency for us human beings (particularly here in the United States) to believe that we are gods. That’s nothing new. According to the Bible, that was the aspiration of Adam and Eve. What might be different is that this is the message we get flung at us from multiple directions in our education system, TV, radio, social media, etc. All of these things tell us we are special. Certainly, we are. But the problem is (as I may have written about in a previous post)  they go much further. Because you and I are special, we deserve things.We should have our way all of the time. We should treat ourselves all of the time. We should buy the best things in life as often as we can. Our guy or gal should have won the presidency. Everyone should believe as I do- and if they don’t we unfriend them or dismiss them as disparaging term x, y, or z.

But, as we are well aware, human beings cannot get their way all of the time. Our guy or gal didn’t win the presidency. We can’t afford that. People disagree with us. It’s quite possible that a few of them don’t even like us.

And it should have been a no-brainer to me that I couldn’t have my way all of the time. After so much of society told me that I was special and could have it my way all of the time I sunk into pessimism to the point where I thought I was born under a bad sign. That God didn’t love me. That He was out to inflict harm upon me. Blaming Him for my troubles instead of where it belonged- with me.

Yet, with everything I’ve written and confessed to you, dear reader, I look at my past and see the hand of the Lord working and drawing me toward Him. And I would be remiss if I failed to point out that the Holy Spirit has reasons unknown to me for why He would want me among His people. By now, you shoROmansuld have more than a good idea that I am far from a paragon of virtue and faith.

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” -Romans 9:15


“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

So if I can see His hand working in my past, which led me to Him, then I have no reason to doubt that He will watch over my future now that I am in a relationship with Him.

There is no room for pessimism.

Second, as I look back over my life, I somehow got the impression that a sign of God’s favor in my life would mean that I would have no problems at all. I don’t know where I got that idea from at all. In fact, as I look over the course of my life at things that I thought would bury me or ruin me, I see that I grew and learned valuable lessons from those things. The pain of those lessons led to a higher level of living and, ultimately, my faith in my Lord.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4

So what does this have to do with pessimism? If I am right and the hard times in my life caused me to learn lessons that resulted in a better life, why should I not expect hard times in faith? And if I experience hard times in my walk with Jesus with the knowledge that God is working all of this together for good, then it is as Dr. Sproul said, there is no room for pessimism in the Christian life.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you,” -Matthew 5:11-12. 

These two verses, in addition to many others that I am not thinking of right now, make it clear that not even Jesus promised us an easy time in our walk with Him. Why should it be different for me? Who do I think I am to think that the fact that my car might not start or that this trial or that trial means that God is trying to punish me.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:1-5.

There is a point to it all. And when we take these verses and others and fuse them together with the fact that God works all things together for good then there is no room for pessimism in my life as a Christian.

Now if I could only just flip a switch to stop worrying and to automatically think optimistically as my faith tells me to do.

These things take time.


Living Through This

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28 (NIV)

To me, Scripture is a finely cut diamond. Every time you turn it or look at it at a different angle you’ll see something new.

Romans 8:28 is like that. I remember the first time that I saw it, I was shown it by a Pastor in rural Iowa in 2003 after I had just gotten fired from my job as a journalist in Freeport, Illinois. This was during one of my attempts at a Christian life. I frankly deserved to be fired from that job. I did not take it seriously and didn’t have the heart for it so, frankly, I did not invest in it like I should have. I made reporting errors and called the integrity of the paper I worked for into question so I deserved the ax.

What’s interesting to me now as I look back from the space of 14 years is that I had the audacity to take Romans 8:28 and apply it to myself as a victim. As if my editors didn’t have anything better to do than to pick on me and fire me. As if I had nothing to do with what happened!

As I write about my past and look back through the perspective of my relationship with Jesus, I often wonder “was that actually me?” Or “what was I thinking?” Or “you wouldn’t let Christ into your life because you wanted to act like that?”

But I digress.

The pastor was correct to give me Romans 8:28 as a verse of encouragement. But not because I was the victim of an injustice, as I thought when I was 24. Now, this 38-year-old sees that meaning of this verse from a different angle: “You screwed up. Time and again. On many things. God will use all of it for the good that He plans on doing.”

I’m seeing the verse in a completely different angle now.

Yesterday, I began a brief devotional called “Understanding God’s Purpose” by Dr. R.C. Sproul. As you may have read, this is a part of my effort to build my spiritual foundation on basics rather than my previous attempts at a Christian life where I looked for knowledge that would make me feel superior to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Goodbye to all that.

Joseph from the latter part of the Book of Genesis is a story that has come to my attention more a couple of times in the last year. When I started on the Dave Ramsey baby steps program in the middle of last year and was overwhelmed by the size of my student loan debt I began to feel despair. Ramsey was hawking the Max Lucado book “You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times” which dealt with the story of Joseph.

The constant refrain of the first chapter, Lucado wrote was “You’ll get through this. I don’t know how, but I know that God is going to work this our for good.”

Now it’s Dr. Sproul bringing Joseph to life again before me.

After his odyssey through his brothers’ betrayal of him; rising from the depths not once, but twice; and all of the setbacks, he finally came face-to-face with his brothers. And then came Joseph’s famous quote “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

In the devotional, Dr. Sproul wrote: “The divine intention was the exact opposite of the human intention. Joseph’s brothers had one goal; God had a different one. The amazing truth here is that the remote purpose was served by the proximate one. This does not diminish the culpability of the brothers. Their intent and their actions were evil. Yet it seemed good to God to let it happen that His purpose might be fulfilled.”

My situation is much different from Joseph as my wounds were largely self-inflicted. But as I think about my past, as far gone as I was in my sin, I see the statement “You meant evil…but God meant it for good” in another light. When I was in bondage to my sins away from my Lord, the sins I did, I did because I wanted to do them. I desired to commit evil. But I believe by faith that God will take the evil that I performed and turn it around to use it for His good.

To give me glory? No. To give Him glory.

I struggle with that as I sit here typing this. In the case of the women I used in my past, I hurt them. One of them was my ex-wife, someone I stood at an altar with and swore that I would love her forever. As I wrote before, I cheated on her with women I used for a cheap thrill.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)

I understand that Jesus saved me, but I do not believe that gives me the right to be flippant about my past or my sins. People were hurt. I hurt them.

All I can do at this moment is pray that my terrible actions result in the glory of God working in their lives. I believe He will. He said He would.

And that gives me faith that I will get throught his. God will work all of this out for His glory.

Thoughts on an Ash Wednesday

Hosanna, my long-suffering friend from Colorado, sent me a song in celebration of my surrender to Jesus. She’s been a dear friend to me- long past the point where she probably should’ve been. I’ve made fun of her faith during my lapses between attempts at Christian living, and at other times I have just been a plain nasty person to her.

Yet she was praying for me, even though I don’t think I deserve to be prayed for. Or, more than likely, Hosanna was praying for me because specifically because I wasn’t a person worth praying for.

I think of Hosanna on this Ash Wednesday as all of my brothers and sisters in Jesus as we enter into the season of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This song is very appropriate for this time of year.

I feel a bit like the prodigal son from Jesus’ parable. And, as everyone knows, there are many other prodigals like me. Either we were raised in Christian houses and wandered away from anything to do with the faith, or we thought our hearts were close to Him but our hearts were far from Him, or we were spiritually abused or abused physically or emotionally in the name of Jesus, or (just like the prodigal son in the original parable) we wanted to do things our way and indulge in the ways of the world, or any number of reasons I haven’t written here.

And many people in our lives gave us up for dead. We were/ are so far gone that many people forgot about us or assumed we would never change our ways.

But Jesus didn’t forget us.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5: 6-8. 

And there were/ are people in our lives who knew this and they prayed for us with a faith that God can and does reach anyone no matter how far gone we seemed to be. They were the people this song describes. They were praying for people like me because they believed God could reach us.

What about you, dear reader? Were you far gone like I was? If you were, do you know who prayed for you when it seemed like all hope was lost?

It wasn’t just Hosanna. I’m sure it was my mother and other family members  Christians I have met in my travels in Colorado, Illinois, and my home state of Iowa. People I’ve met in my various attempts at a Christian’s life. People who knew I had demons. People called out for my dry bones to come alive as the song said.

I pray that my life and testimony bear witness to them that God does hear the prayers of the righteous and that we, all of us, should never stop praying for anyone, even as far gone as they appear to be.

I wish I could hug them now and pray with them and for them. I would love to sing hymns and modern songs of praise with them. But for now, as I type this on a mild evening (for a March 1st in Iowa anyway) I will have to be content to sit here and write this post.

If you ever prayed for me to come home to Jesus, thank you. This prodigal has come home.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑