Faith, Hope, and Love


Picture: Steve Charman (CC)

And so there remain Faith, Hope, Love — these three; and of these the greatest is Love. 1Co 13:13

Paul, Thomas, and Peter.

Why those three? What do they have to do with this verse?

Well, for Paul, that is easy to see. He wrote the verse in his letter to the Corinthians. But there is a lot more.

Paul was a man of faith. His faith as a pharisee was strong enough to persecute Christians.

But then, after his encounter with Christ, he became the teacher about faith. Just remember the verse in Romans:

For our reasoned conclusion is that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. Rom 3:28

This verse is so strong in its implications, that Luther reformed the church on its basic statement: sola fide. Only by faith. Granted, James writes that we are not justified by faith alone, but by works. But not the works of law. It is not about externally following the rules, but by overflowing of what we now know to be true and what has become our heart’s desire.

Faith changed Paul. God knew that because Paul was so full of faith that he would become one of his most faithful servants.

God had faith in Paul. A strange thing to say, since God – outside of time, seeing the end from the beginning – knew that Paul would become his faithful servant. He had planned Paul’s life before the foundation of the earth. Yet still, he had faith. Because faith is the substance of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see. Faith manifests in the natural what already is in the supernatural. It is therefore only by God’s faith that we prosper. He speaks, and things become.

Thus faith is one of the substances the Kingdom runs with. It’s the fuel of the Kingdom.

Thomas had doubts. And I am sure he was angry and disappointed. Why had he not been there? Why did Jesus show up when he was gone? How could he? And could it be real? Something like that never happened before. True, Jesus had raised Lazarus and that little girl from the dead. And when Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead too. But this - if he were to believe the accounts of the others – was different. Jesus walked through walls and doors. His body seemed to be strangely different. It must have been built by the same material as his old one, as the old one was gone for good, but nobody had walked through walls before – with the wall still standing intact afterwards. If he only could touch him and especially his wounds that he had seen on his old body when they put him to the grave.

And then, Jesus appeared again. He addressed Thomas directly and asked him to do just that. Touch his wounds. It was mind boggling. First, why were they still there? Why didn’t the wounds disappear when the new body was formed? When Jesus healed and restored people, they were fully healed. Thomas himself had seen whole body parts grow. Could it be that Jesus still had these wounds because he had asked to touch them? That couldn’t be, could it? He would never know. Thomas never touched the wounds as far as we know. Just seeing Jesus had him accept him as Lord and God.

All he knew is that Jesus gave him hope. Hope for a great future. His savior was alive. God had hope for Thomas. Hope – according to Strong’s g1680 – is amongst other things the joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation. The resurrection of Jesus is a down payment for the resurrection of us all. God himself has paved the way, overcome death, and cleared all hinderance.

Jesus told Thomas that he believed because he had seen. He gained hope from seeing. We do not need faith to believe in the resurrection. It has been witnessed. It is a fact, well documented in the bible, witnessed by as many as 500 people. And it is a source of hope that one day we will experience the same. And not everybody will die, but some will be transformed at the sound of the last trumpet, while the others will be resurrected. What a day this will be!

Hope is another substance that the Kingdom runs with. It washes away our doubts, cools our anger, soothes our disappointment. It is the cooling water of the Kingdom.

Peter on the other hand had run from Jesus. His fear of death was greater than his love for Jesus. But Jesus restored him asking whether he loved him three times. Three times Peter had denied to know him. And three times Jesus asked him. But not only that. Three times Jesus told Peter that he still loved him and trusted him enough to entrust him with the church. Feed my flock. Care for my sheep. Be their pastor and teacher.

God’s love restored Peter. And Jesus not only told him the way he would die. He told him that many years down the road Peter would still love Jesus enough to die for him. He would never deny Jesus again. His love would be even stronger than the fear of death. Just as John tells us:

There is no fear in love: true love has no room for fear, because where fear is, there is pain; and he who is not free from fear is not complete in love. 1Jo 4:18

Obviously, love is yet another substance the Kingdom runs with. It is the oil that lubricates everything, healing and also preventing wounds from happening in the first place. It lets the engine run smoothly.

God has faith in us, gives us hope, and loves us – all so we can have faith, hope, and love.

Do you have the faith that moves mountains and builds the Kingdom here on earth? Do you have hope for a great future and eternal salvation? And is your love big enough to drive away all fear?

Let me know in a comment, would you?


10 years

Picture: Mehmet Pinarci (CC)

You have had five husbands, and the man you have now is not your husband:that was truly said. Jo 4:18

You know the story. Jesus, on his way back to Galilee passed through Samaria. Samaria was a unique area. Situated in the area of the former northern kingdom called Israel, its inhabitants had been brought here when Israel was deported centuries ago.

At that time it was customary to deport people that had been conquered to break their identity as a people. They were mixed so they did not identify with the land as home and their religion as unifying.

But something interesting happened. The people that were brought to former Israel adopted the religion of the area. Remember that after the death of Solomon, his son that took the northern part installed a new temple and priesthood, still worshipping JHWH, yet keeping his people from going back to Jerusalem. He knew that the kingdoms would be united again if they still had the same place of worship.

Thus, in Samaria they worshipped the same God as the people from Judah, yet differently. This is why Samaritans and Jews did not like each other. Just like today: think of churches that worship the same God in slightly different ways.

Now you know why the woman at the well was astonished when Jesus started to talk with her. How much more when he read her mail. He could not know how many husbands she had had. Granted, she went to the well in the middle of the day – a sure sign that she did not want to meet anybody. Both being humiliated and bullied away had let her decide to go to the well in the greatest heat because she knew that then she would be on her own. So Jesus must have known that it was shame that brought her here at this time of day – apart from her thirst. So he first offered her living water, and when she wanted it, had a word of knowledge for her. Bang on.

Her first reaction? She asked some technicality. Where do we have to worship? Are you Jews right, or us Samaritans?

Jesus told her that the time will come, and actually already is, in which the where, when, how, and why does not matter so much any longer. It is the relationship. No longer should we worship God from a distance, outwardly, externally. We should encounter him on his playing field, on his level. He is spirit and truth. Thus we worship in spirit and truth. It’s all about relationship, not about form.

Jesus set her free. He quenched her thirst. Her thirst for relationship, to belong, to be forgiven.

She had had six men, and the last one she did not even trust enough to marry him. Six. The number of man. Man could not fill her void. It took a seventh man, Jesus, to bring her into fullness. Seven stands for fullness. Man plus God, 6+1.

We have had another husband long enough.

Is it not clear, my brothers (I am using an argument to those who have knowledge of the law), that the law has power over a man as long as he is living? For the woman who has a husband is placed by the law under the power of her husband as long as he is living; but if her husband is dead, she is free from the law of the husband. So if, while the husband is living, she is joined to another man, she will get the name of one who is untrue to her husband:but if the husband is dead, she is free from the law, so that she is not untrue, even if she takes another man. Rom 7:1-3

As Christians, we know the law. Therefore, Paul is talking to us. The law is like a husband. We are bound to him. And you know what? He is not going to help us. Let me tell you what kind of a husband the law is: he lets his wife know about every mistake she makes. He tells her exactly how he wants things to be done. And then he just expects her to function. He is not going to do one bit.

And worst of all, he is not going to die!

Truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth come to an end, not the smallest letter or part of a letter will in any way be taken from the law, till all things are done. Mat 5:18

But if death is the only way to free us from this tyrant, there is only one other solution: we have to die.

In the same way, my brothers, you were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, even to him who came again from the dead, so that we might give fruit to God. Rom 7:4

When we died with Christ on the cross, we were set free from the law. We now have a different husband, Jesus.

Jesus married us on the cross and waits for our acceptation. When we accept him into our lives we say yes. I do.

What kind of a husband do we now have?

Well, the God that gave us the first covenant and the one that died for us in the second never changes. Thus, this husband expects the exact same things as the old one. But he has already done them for us, and we can only walk into a finished work with him.

Our problem? We still are hurt from our first marriage. We still expect things to function as they did back then. We still want to please our husband the way we know.

But things are different:

See, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah: … I will put my law in their inner parts, writing it in their hearts. Jer 31:31.33

When we were filled with the Holy Spirit, God wrote his law onto our heart. Since we experienced our personal pentecost. And this, by the way, is the reason we are still familiar with the law. Event hough Jesus married us on the cross, the law is only written on our hearts when we are baptized by the Holy Spirit. Until then we do not recognize his grace fully.

But what is the difference between a law on stone tablets and one written on our hearts?

When the law is external, I want and try to please God to satisfy him, to measure up, to gain his love - remember the first husband? When it is written in our hearts, when we have a living relationship spirit to Spirit with the Holy Spirit living in us, it becomes completely different. Now my motivation is not to let anything between him and me. Nothing is to cloud our relationship. I know he loves me. I know I am enough. I do not have to measure up. He loves me for who I am – God’s child, his son, his new creation.

No more rules, no more laws. Wether internal nor external. Nothing to follow but him. Free to do whatever I want? By no means. I told you: God did not change. His laws are still enabled. I changed. His law became my heart’s desire.

So will your delight be in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Ps 37:4

I told my children: you have the freedom to obey. And it’s only if you decide not to, that you must or must carry the consequences.

God both gives me my heart’s desire – puts them in there by writing his law onto my heart – as well as gives them to me – brings them to fulfillment and fruition.

Forget the old husband. Let your new husband treat the wounds from your past. And in a personal and intimate relationship with him, let him quench your thirst. Let him give you the desires of your heart.

In the story at the well Jesus later tells his disciples that it is his nourishment to do the will of the father - his most natural need, his source of energy, as that is what food is.

Ready? Let me know your thoughts in a comment.

Hot or cold

Fire and Ice

Picture: Fire and Ice, RVWithTito (CC)

I know your works:you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Rev 3:15-16

Cold or hot. I remember the time when the music I heard was called “middle of the road”. No edges. Could be listened to in just about any environment, especially the elevator of a mall. Nobody would mind, nobody would notice. It’s just there. We think it is safe. Yes, there will be no complaints, but:

Walk on road, hmmmmmm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squished just like grape. Mr. Miyagi, Karate Kid

When I was in high school, I listened to this type of music, true. But the environment did not appreciate it. I was in an all boys boarding home, and the music style of the day was harder. Much harder. AC/DC harder. Thus, I believed that I was different, distinct, even distinguished. But I was on a dangerous road.

I had just selected the group of people I wanted to fit in with. From very early on I had learned that I did not fit in with peers my age, but very well with adults. When I was seven, we had joined a church that believed in sitting on pillows and sharing thoughts. I learned to control and manipulate, but also get respect and positive feedback by throwing sayings, bible verses, and even my personal thoughts into the discussion – short, sweet, sharp, to the point, open ended – most importantly: fitting the topic at hand. That was my world, and I craved for the laud and accolade.

Peers my age never understood nor were thrilled by what I said. They preferred to talk about other things – girls, soccer, how they hated school, you name it. So I turned away from them and tried to fit with the grown ups. My kind of rebellion, and as much as theirs it was a cry to belong.

My urge to both belong and rebel brought forth some rather strange behavior. I would one day wear fake leather pants and sit outside the school with my guitar, playing, well, middle of the road songs like “bridge over troubled water” with a fair voice, but troubled guitar skills. The other day I would dress up in a suit with tie. Playing the extremes poorly, I ended up neither hot nor cold. Even the thing I was best in – academia – I did enough to just get by.

What I wanted: be accepted by all people. Even though I had decided that peers were not worth it, I craved for their acceptance, as well as the one of adults such as our teachers.

Let me give you some cultural background. In our schools, students ganged up against teachers. Not what you think now – no violence. We just talked about them, putting them down, making fun of them. Understand my bafflement when I once in high school in the US told a fellow student that I did not like a certain teacher, and the next day the teacher talked to me about it. Those boundaries were not crossed at my high school.

Yet, in my attempt to belong to both groups, everybody in the student body suspected that I was the teachers water carrier. And teachers were repelled by my behavior when I tried so hard to fit in with the kids. I think, by now you get the drift.

And then, I became a Christian.

And everything changed to the good, no more problems. Since then I am burning hot for God, with no urge to belong and no fear of men.

If that were only true.

It is and was my greatest desire to be hot for the Lord. But how would I do that?

At first, I looked to my peer Christians and tried to imitate their behavior. I tried to fit in. This was very confusing, as there were so many different ways of doing things, sometimes just about opposite of each other. My solution: middle of the road.

I learned over time that this was terribly confusing and straining. And I felt that at times I acted to please the group I was with, but at others I rebelled. In a faint attempt to broaden somebody’s thinking I would throw in some controversial thoughts. Just as I had done at seven. But now, as an adult, that was not perceived as being cute, adorable, and wise beyond age. It was received as an affront. I challenged their ways. Who was I to do that?

So over time I learned to behave. Neither warm nor cold.

Please, understand me right. I wasn’t hot about things because they were the right thing to do or believe. Not only. I was hot, stubborn, firm about things to teach, to be accepted, to show off. But mostly, to test the relationships that started to slowly grow. Would they hold even if I would show my true character, be controversial, even somewhat hostile?

They did not. So I learned to behave as expected. Neither warm nor cold.

And – I have to admit – in some areas that held true for quite some time. Frankly, there might be areas it still does.

But in several sessions, God started to work with me and set me free.

There were several points that had to be dealt with:

  • I am beautifully and wonderfully made. Not everything about me is perfect or in God’s plan, granted, but much of it is. He has uniquely crafted me, and it is my right and duty to be all he planned me to be. The best me I can be.
  • I do not have to fit in with the expectations of other people – not even his people. I do not even have to please him. I have to grow into my identity in him, as his son and representative here on earth.
  • He has given me everything I need. A secure environment, provision, equipment, rest, vision, calling, assignment, abilities, gracings, and people that complement me.

In order to come out of my need to fit in yet be different, I first negated my being different and thus became just like everybody – a bad interpretation of “a Jew for the Jews and a Greek for the Greek.” But then I learned how valuable it is to be different, to have distinct abilities, to think differently. Not for the sake of being different, but to complement others.

The key word in this is “others”. Christianity is about relationships. It is not necessarily about many relationships, but about the right ones.

I learned that I could be myself – the ever maturing self, growing into what God wants me to be, as a new creation – best in relationships. A deep personal relationship with God. In addition, having a few people around me that love me for who I am, who have both an assignment for our relationship due to divine appointment as well as the God kind of love that is unconditional, is the fertile ground and secure foundation for me to grow. For me to fulfill the unique, singular, inimitable, unrivaled, and one-of-a-kind calling that is on my life. Without regret or caution, because I know they will correct and hold back, encourage and admonition.

Or let’s say: it gives me permission to be steaming hot.

God provided such an environment for me in my spiritual father, the elders of the network, and the five fold ministry team I have the privilege to be part of. The church he planted me into.

What about you? Do you have such an environment? If not: this is the time God’s spirit turns the hearts of the fathers to the sons and vice versa. Ask God for it.

So you can be steaming hot – for Christ.

Playing a Library

El Ateneo, ex Grand Splendid

picture: Pablo Dodda (CC)

Avraham called the place ADONAI Yir’eh [ADONAI will see (to it), ADONAI provides]- as it is said to this day, “On the mountain ADONAI is seen.” Gen 22:14

When God sees something, when he looks at something, he is moved, and he sees to do his part. Abraham had caught God’s attention on the way to the mountain God pointed out to him. He had obeyed and even with faith proclaimed that God would provide a lamb as sacrifice. And God did. Not a lamb, but a full grown ram, as he always does more than we can imagine.

When Jesus saw the needs of the people, he was moved with compassion and healed them all, fed them all, set them all free.

There is a power in looking at things. Seeing something triggers thoughts, emotions, and eventually actions.

But what if this is even true on a deeper level?

Let me explain.

God works with us in our framework of understanding, stretching it from the starting point of the familiar to the vastness of the eternal, as far as we allow him to go, in the speed we can take and grasp.

So with me, God talks about books. Tons of books.

God showed me reality as a big library. I mean, a BIG library. Unlike in the bible, where John tells us that if everything were written down that Jesus did or said, that the whole earth could not contain the books, in this library, everything that ever happened is written.

Those books are written by the best writer ever, the Holy Spirit. And just as it sometimes is with a great book, the books spring to life when somebody starts reading. The reader is totally immersed into the story and becomes part of it - the story becomes his story. Interestingly enough, all books at all times were alive. Even if nobody was reading the story, the story lived within the framework of the book. The stories were so alive, that at any moment, every moment of the story was playing out. One could turn to a book and open it at any page, and plunge right into the action – as it was now.

Even more than that. As I was reading a story, I became co-author of it. The stories I had read before influenced the story I was reading now. I could take over most of the authorship, have the Holy Spirit be my ghost writer, or co-author the story’s future under the lead of God.

You maybe have noticed that I, as soon as I looked at my role as reader and co-author, started using words like before, now, and future.

My role in all this is twofold: I obviously am part of a number of books in this library, a character in some of the stories, but then I am also reader and co-author. As reader I live in another world as the characters of the book, even though they become one once I start reading. But as reader I am limited. My senses can only interact with the story within their limitations. This has some intricate features and characteristics. First, the amount of story line and facts I can take in at a given time is limited, and my conscious can work with even less. I miss a lot of what is told. And then, as I am subject to time, the story starts playing out in a timeline, one thing after the other manifests in the world I create reading.

This world exists on the intersect of the reader with the book. It exists and is created by the words of the story in my mind – and since it is so much alive – even in my whole life and experience. I become the protagonist of the story.

Since I am co-authoring the story I am reading, the world created within me is not only influenced by my words, my imagination, but also by the imagination and the creative words of God. Thus, many of the stories the Holy Spirit co-authored influence my story. Many of the scenarios written by other authoring teams intersect with my story and co-create my world. As God is the common thread in all those stories, a common world is created through those worlds, allowing for communication, shared experiences, and different world views.

When I studied information sciences, I wrote a paper about virtual realities. The topic: if virtual realities become so good that people immersed in them cannot distinguish them from the real world, would you die in the real world if you died in virtual reality? I came to the conclusion that yes, and that it would not only happen when virtual reality was a near perfect simulation of the real world, but as soon as you identified with it and accepted it as real.

Berthold Brecht would probably disagree and tell me that identification is futile and does not lead to lasting changes – his question was a little different: can somebody be taught through literature using identification with the hero of a story. And granted, your super hero feelings after a X-Men movie only last for so long, don’t they?

But then again, the stories in this library are so alive, they become our lives. We fully identify with the protagonist and view the world as reality.

I came to understand that I am not this person only. How that?

Yes, I am the protagonist of the story I am reading and co-authoring, and therefore shape the story. What I live through in this story determines partly what the story will go on to tell. What I focus on while I live the story does the same. Because my focus determines, which parts of the story I will miss, and which I will treasure.

Yes, I am the reader of the story. As a reader, I can lay books aside and fetch a new one. I can change my focus, my story drastically.

And finally, I am the co-author of my story. I can depend on the influence of God more, I can change the flow of the story, I can build the world around me, I can create.

This concept is hard to understand, because we have been immersed into our story for so long. And we have been taught that there is another reality waiting for us once we finished our story well – we call it heaven, and for me, it just might look like a big library.

But if I see myself as reader and co-author of my story, do I have to wait for death to enter? I know it is hard to lay aside a book before it is fully read. It is hard not to start another one right afterwards. I would love to spend my time here on earth just reading books. But I can look up and stroll around the library, engage in a conversation with my co-author, look into some other books, spend some time with the librarian or interact with some other readers, and even go outside for a walk.

Even here, whatever I focus on, plays out and influences and shapes my world. Time does not matter. Focus does.

Solomon tells us that everything has a season: mourning has a season, and joy does. Death has a season, and life does. But it is not the time that determines the season, it is our focus that does.


What do you think, what do you focus on?

Welcome to Paradise

Visiting Paradise

Picture: Kate Ter Haar (CC)

And he said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in Paradise. Luk 23:43

I read an article lately about hell. It recounted what I had heard for so many years. As biblically, hell is the future place of eternal judgement for all enemies of Christ, one of the questions that arose is where the dead are as of today. The story of Lazarus that Jesus told us talked about a place in two parts – one for believers, one for the enemies of God. The article called the place hades or sheol, Greek and Hebrew names for the realm of the dead. The good part of it was either called bosom of Abraham or paradise – the first name being derived from the story.

But why paradise?

This is derived from above verse, using some reasoning. Since Jesus was in the grave, or let’s say dead for three days, yet told the thief that he would be in paradise with him that day, paradise had to be in sheol. And if so, it had to be the good part – of course.

But this triggers a question deep in me:

Why should a God that is outside of time have us wait in yet another place before final reconciliation?

The reasoning for such a place is deeply woven into our understanding of time. Time as a half dimension that only can be traveled in one direction – forward, as any violation, going back to the past, would cause paradoxes. Imagine a time traveler killing himself in the past, thus never reaching the point in time that he started his journey from. As long as time exists, it will always be unidirectional.

Jesus died before the foundation of the earth. Most people explain this using determinism: If God knew that Jesus was going to die on Easter, April 7  30 AD – the date most scholars agree with – it was an either true or false statement. History tells us that it was true (and the bible tells us that God cannot lie), and thus you might look at it as fulfilled as soon as God knew. Granted, somewhat philosophical, complicated, and for many reasons twisted. Something happens when it happens, at least within a framework of time. But without?

Through the death and resurrection of Christ we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Yet the dead who believed in Christ will be resurrected the moment Jesus comes back and joined with the living. In revelation, we find a multitude standing before the throne. And there already is a cloud of witnesses cheering us on. So tell me, where are the dead – in paradise, after having been seated with Christ in heavenly places? What a step back! And who then is cheering us on?

Maybe, the bosom of Abraham was only for the Old Testament up to Jesus’ death on the cross. That somewhat makes sense. But then we have Enoch and Elijah – both of which are reported to have gone on to heaven. Could it be that Jesus used metaphors in his story, so we would understand? To drive home a point? Once your dead, it is too late?

I imagine that a dead believer having to watch his enemies being tortured is not very happy. The German word for that would be Schadenfreude – malicious joy. Even if you call it sense for righteousness, reading the New Testament of grace and mercy, I can’t believe that. But that is just my reasoning.

OK, so maybe the bosom of Abraham existed for the time of the old covenant. But would you call it paradise?

Paradise is the heavenly doorway into this dimension, it is the manifestation of the Kingdom of God – in heaven and on earth. Jesus told us – even before his death – that the Kingdom of God is here and is yet to come. It had been seeded to the earth, and grows since then. Paradise is not for the dead – but for the living. And it is not for the future, it is for now.

At the cross, Jesus established his reign over everything. Thus, this is what he said to the thief:

No matter whether you are dead or alive – today, as soon as I die, I regain access rights for you to come into the Kingdom of God, that is paradise. Since you asked me to remember you when I am in my Kingdom, you just gained the right of access for yourself. And by the way, what you called my Kingdom, I just call paradise for the moment. Thus I give you an illustration of what it looks like, as far as you can understand.

What does that mean for you and me?

Where there is no time, things coexist to be discovered. Just as in quantum physics, where all possible states coexist until somebody measures something – and at that time, what is measured falls into one state. We could say that measurement causes matter or light, particles or waves to assume a certain state – without measurement, things might have turned out differently. Not easy to grasp.

Back to time. The moment you discover the death and resurrection of Jesus as a personal now-moment for yourself, you gain access rights to paradise, become a part of the Kingdom of God. And you will be with him in this new heaven and new earth, in this new creation. You even will be a new creation.

Speaking of a new heaven and a new earth: As there is no time, this new heaven and new earth coexist with the old creation rather than succeed the old creation after God’s judgement. It is our measurement that determines which of the two we will see and live in.

As a parentheses, let’s have a new look on the book of revelation. Maybe the things described do not portray a timeline, a succession of happenings, but rather coexist and are discovered at different times by John. Thus he says: and then I saw. Coexisting creations, coexisting truths to be discovered personally.

And as it is our own measurement, our own focus, our own faith that determines which of the two creations become real for us, time and even space become more and more unreal and subjective. They are a characteristic of the old creation. They only are true as long as we keep measuring the old way. Granted, for a life time they have been our measuring sticks we applied to the world, and it will be hard not to use them and subject to them any longer – but do we really have to?

What do you think, and what could it look like to replace time and space with faith, the dimension of the Kingdom of God? And by the way – welcome to paradise.