Monthly Archives: May 2016

Singing Praise to Father!

I love worshipping Jesus. I love the feeling of being in His Presence in that amazing way that’s amplified so much more when in worship. I find myself singing the songs of the Spirit quite spontaneously; when worship music comes on, my hands just sometimes raise in the air in worship, of their own accord. My wonderful wife Fiona gave me this lovely Scripture from her favourite Bible translation, The Message – because she said it reminded her of me!:

“Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” (Eph 5:18-20 (Message))

(I love that – ‘Any excuse for a song….’ and that’s just so me….)

Now you know I don’t treat the Bible as a book of Rules. This isn’t telling me what to do and what not to do; rather, it’s kind-of validating what I do in worship. It tells me that what happens to me when my heart is stirred with worship is actually quite normal for someone who is filled up with the Spirit of God. Not that I need validating; but there we go. But that’s what it’s like – any excuse for a song. I find myself singing out loud with the overflow from my heart, and you can too. Wouldn’t you love to do that? Wouldn’t you love to be aware of God’s Presence as you worship just driving down the road? Worship Him in Spirit and Truth and that’s what happens. For “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks…” (Lk6:45)

Now, about 25 years ago, my dear friend Chris returned from Australia having experienced a real move of God in his life, and also bringing back some great songs from Christian City Church in Sydney, where they’d been worshipping out there in the Land of Oz. I remember at the party welcoming them back, the song ‘All Honour’ came on, and Chris’s wife Dawn was standing next to me; it was lovely to see her eyes close and her hands raise spontaneously in worship……when the Spirit of God moves on a person, all kinds of things can happen. Weeping, uncontrollable laughter (that’s my particular thing), falling over, giddiness….the list goes on. So don’t be surprised when, in the worship clip I am about to share, at 2 minutes in one of the young men in the singing group is suddenly in floods of tears. That’s the Spirit at work. If you’re going to ask for the anointing to fall on you, this is the sort of thing that can happen!

Don’t be surprised either if He does it to you too, as you enter in to the worship. Here’s Ron Kenoly and the Hosanna Music worship band, doing ‘Anointing Fall on Me’ and ‘All Honor’ on the worship session entitled ‘Lift Him Up!’

Find Him as you sing……

Anointing, fall on me,
Anointing, fall on me;
Let the power of the Holy Ghost
Fall on me,
Anointing, fall on me.

Touch my hands, my mouth and my heart;
Fill my life, Lord, every part.
Let the power of the Holy Ghost
Fall on me,
Anointing, fall on me.

All honor
All glory
All power
To You

Holy Father we worship You
Precious Jesus our Saviour
Holy Spirit we wait on You
Holy Spirit we wait on You
Holy Spirit we wait on You
For fire

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Jesus is Alive!

ron kenoly

Here’s a brilliantly uplifting praise/declaration song from the inimitable Ron Kenoly, from his 1994  Hosanna Music album ‘God is Able‘. Let this song minister to you the full power, joy and truth of Christ’s victory over sin and death, on the Cross and in His Resurrection.

Hallelujah! Jesus is Alive!

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Well Enough to Drink Coffee?

I have two close family members who suffer from the debilitating condition known as ‘Myalgic Encephalomyelitis’, or ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ (ME/CFS). It’s an ‘invisible illness’: one that generally cannot be seen by onlookers except perhaps by those who recognise the signs, such as they are. ME/CFS is characterised by extreme tiredness, aching, inability to sleep properly, inability to walk very far or stand up for long. In sort, this is a limiting illness – something that drastically limits the patient’s ability to live a normal life, or even to gain employment.

Unfortunately, in society, we are plagued by so many ‘amateur doctors’; ordinary, non-medical people who think that because they know what it’s like to be ill in ‘normal’ ways, they also know everything there is to know about all other illnesses too. In fact, most people can’t even tell you the difference between ‘signs’ and ‘symptoms’ – and this is fundamental! Symptoms are how the patient is feeling – pain, tiredness, nauseous and so on. Signs are what you can see or measure – flushed skin, high temperature, sweating, vomiting, pulse rate etc. And the thing with an ‘invisible illness’ is that it’s almost all symptoms – things you can’t see. But it’s no less real for that. And yet, people with ‘invisible illness’ are judged by these oh so highly qualified people, who sometimes then go on to make hurtful comments and such, to people who are already distressed and feeling ‘different’.

For instance, say I park with one of my ME people in a Disabled parking space, and that person gets out and starts walking, you can see these people gawping as if to say, ‘Huh, nothing wrong with her!’ Thing is, though, that 50-100 yards down the path, the patient may well be exhausted and may not be able to get back to the car without my having to break out the wheelchair. I’m so glad these observing people are not in charge of my patients’ medical care!

So I’m sharing this post today to raise awareness of ME/CFS, even though apparently it was actually May 12th that was ‘International ME/CFS Awareness Day’ (funny how most people remain unaware of ‘awareness days’!) – and that’s two weeks ago. One of my friends recently shared a great post by an ME/CFS patient which describes the condition and its effects very well; I would be honoured if you could read it. It’s my hope that people could perhaps become less judgemental towards those with ‘invisible illnesses’; maybe that person staggering along in front of you when you are in a hurry has something like this, and you need to give them a break. Whatever, take a look; it’s a great article and very well written (click the logo below to go to the article):

just_me

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Would We Recognise Him?

Christy Wood is a lady who writes a (sometimes quite challenging) blog full of honest insight and Grace-filled thinking. Her blog is beautifully titled ‘Let Me Be Foolish’.

Here is an excellent blog post that Christy published recently, and it’s well worth a read! Click the logo below to get to the article:

let me be foolish

 

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Enough is Enough!

Here’s a profound prophecy from Glasgow Prophetic Centre. I don’t treat prophecy lightly, and naturally we must weigh prophecy; Paul says in 1 Cor 14:29 that “… the others should weigh carefully what is said.” Well, I did just that, and this prophecy struck an immediate bright chord in my heart; I’m confident that God spoke to my heart with this today, He did the same for many people in my Church, and it may also be for others out there too. So I’m sharing it now; if you feel the Spirit speaking it to your heart, then grab it with both hands! Here we go:

“You are being empowered to bring restoration, reversal and restitution into situations that seem irreversible, permanent and hopeless. God is equipping you to speak words of turnaround, ‘enough-is-enough’ and words of finality over prolonged issues, attacks and problems that have sought to paralyse you, slow you down and drain you financially, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

“Terminal illness will be reversed as you speak a word of ‘enough-is-enough’. Brain damage will be undone as you release a turning around. All manner of blood disorders and issues with the lymphatic system will be unwound and removed in an instant as God releases His reversal.

“There will be a reversal of debt and bankruptcy for those who feel like they are trapped in a downward financial spiral. The business that you thought you were going to lose will be resuscitated and brought back to life as a turnaround is released.

“Depression, bi-polar, anxiety and extreme OCD will be healed as reversal is released.
God is reversing, turning around, restoring and undoing circumstance that have encroached around you and a brought with them a weight of hopelessness and despair. Yet, He is doing this work through you and He requires your participation, with the leading of His Spirit, to release words that bring restitution into desolation.

“Begin to make faith-filled, reversal decrees now in the name of Jesus Christ, the miracle worker. Execute royal decrees just as in Esther 9:1. Watch as God begins to move in you and through you in a completely different manner than you have ever known before.”

(Esther 9:1 –
Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.)

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Jeff Turner on Freedom

Jeff Turner is another modern-day prophet. His incisive logic and clear thought processes, combined with the heart of a true seeker after God, make him one of the most formidable minds in the modern Grace movement. Here’s a piece of his from Facebook from a couple of days ago that speaks an upbuilding lesson. It’s a bit long, but so well worth the read.

Enjoy!

“The pursuit of a wholly secular society is a pursuit that could not be had if the holy and the sacred did not exist, even if only in the mind of the pursuers. I don’t mean that they actually believe in the divine, but that the pursuit of what is the opposite of the sacred is still to pursue something that exists in the same world as the sacred, and without the sacred the pursued object or ideal would be undefinable. So the pursuit of the wholly secular often ends with the holy-secular, as one requires the other in order for either to exist conceptually. A true secularism would be one that did not derive it’s not identity from non-God, but simply did not even think in the context of a God whatsoever.

“In the same way, the very concept of grace which is so popular today is one that tells people that God is kind, loving, merciful and forgiving; that he is no longer angry, wrathful, violent or holding our sins against us. There is a key word in the former sentence, however, that exposes the chink in this ideology’s armor: anymore.

“To say that God is kind, loving, merciful and forgiving because he is *no longer* angry, wrathful, violent or holding our sins against us is to say that God once was this way. It also usually follows that God is only not this way as it concerns believers in Jesus, but for all others he is still very much angry, wrathful, etc. This “sort” of grace, then, can only exist or even be proclaimed as the solution to a very real problem. There really is an angry God in the universe, but if you come within the confines of this very particular belief system you can be saved from this. So, while it touts the idea of a loving, gracious God, it still very much needs the angry God to exist for some, or to have existed in the past, in order to have any sort of identity.

“For me, the concept of grace led me out of the dungeon of performance, self-hatred and that never ending quest to turn God’s frown upside down, and it truly felt like freedom for a season. But soon I hit a wall. Have you ever seen the Truman Show? Do you remember that almost final scene where Truman has escaped the island on which he lived, overcame a storm at sea, and is heading into what he thinks is open waters and open skies? Do you remember what happens next? His boat crashes into that “open blue sky” and he realizes that it is simply the end of the set on which his pseudo-life had been filmed.

“What’s interesting though is that before hitting the wall, he really felt that he had broken away from the false and that he was now experiencing freedom! He had lost relationships, faced storms and overcome his fears, and he was in a place of peace, serenity and freedom! And then suddenly his illusion of freedom was shattered when he realized that there are layers to freedom. It isn’t all instant, and sometimes one bad idea leads you away from a worse idea, until you finally hit a wall and can escape altogether.

“This is what my experience with the popular form of grace was like. It truly felt like freedom and had cost me a lot to pursue it, and I eventually I came to a place where I felt like the fighting was behind me and it had all paid off. Then I suddenly realized that while I was freer than I had been before, it was still an illusory form of freedom.

“The wall I hit was the reality that the God this belief system claimed to liberate me from depended on this same God for its existence. If there were not an angry and wrathful God, the message had no power. Like the secular depends on the sacred, and so is never truly free from the sacred, so “grace” depends on an angry, perfection-demanding deity, and without it has no existence of its own.

“This was my “blind leading the blind” moment. While, yes, the blind can’t lead the blind, and a bad idea can’t lead you to freedom, it can at least drag you into a ditch so you can realize that in all of your wandering you weren’t actually going anywhere. As far as Truman felt he may have sailed from bondage, he was still very much a slave, and so long as the God of anger and wrath existed, even in a domesticated or medicated form, I was still beneath his tyranny.

“Freedom came when I hit the wall, and realized that the concept of God peddled in so many religious systems just does not exist at all. It isn’t that Jesus saves us from him, or that he hides us from him in his own righteousness, or that he satiates his wrath by volunteering to die beneath it in our place. It’s that the “god” who condemns us in that way, and would require that sort of payment isn’t real. He isn’t a problem because he’s not a reality. The only God who can exist for the Christian is the one Jesus called Abba, who he also claims to perfectly represent.

“This is what Christianity really does for the world, I believe: it comes not to give us one more God-concept, but to free us from the ruling God-concept we have viewed matters both natural and spiritual through since the dawn of time. Jesus leads us not into a God-filled universe, but a god-less one. That is to say, Christianity is less about the addition of another God as it is about a negation of all others, including the one we’ve thought him to be. It reveals to us that even the sort of freedom we thought we found in the discovery of what Jesus had done to deal with this God’s attitude toward our sins was a form of bondage. So long as that sort of God exists in our minds, it does not matter whether we call him Yahweh or Ba’al, we are slaves. We need to be freed from it altogether, that we might learn to live in an entirely new way.

“Because I’ve come to understand that the God who needs to be pleased through my efforts, and punishes me when he is not, does not exist, I can speak of things like morality, my own shortcomings, etc., without it triggering thoughts or memories of the tyrannical deity I once served. That god-concept is now dead to me, and so the thought of being an upright, moral person no longer has anything to do with “works” or striving to make God happy. It is simply the way I desire to live because I’ve realized God has only ever been loving, and that as a Father, he loves all that he has fathered. That “god” is so dead to me that I do not even think in those terms anymore.

“I say a lot of this to explain why I speak the way I speak these days. Some who have known and “followed” my material for years have commented on a shift in the way I present things. Some, not fully understanding the journey I briefly covered above, mistake my talk about serving humanity, etc., as being a return to “works” and a system of striving to please God through my efforts. Those are simply terms I no longer think in.

“For me, God is only loving, and only Jesus-like. The idea of following this God, and living a life of others-centered, self-giving love does not in the least sound like a burdensome task, nor something that I need grace to free me from. Again, that God is dead to me. He no longer exists in my mind, and so I don’t have him in mind when I speak.

“I’d ask you, does that God still exist in your belief system? Have you been rescued from him through Jesus? If so, that means that, even if he is simply imprisoned, satiated, “moved upstairs”, or stripped of power, he still exists in your worldview. In fact, that view cannot exist without him. Words like “no longer” aren’t powerful enough to remove this “god” from existence, but actually serve to keep him alive. If this “god” still exists, then, even living in protest against him is another form of being enslaved to him. Thus, even if you feel free from him, there is still a sense in which you are being controlled by him.

“My sincere plea to you is that you do not mistake “freedom” for freedom. It might seem like blue skies, and they might certainly be bluer than what you once knew, but keep sailing. You might hit a wall, but don’t lose heart! It is the hitting of the wall that actually creates the opportunity for you to walk out of that system altogether and find true freedom.

“Anyways, this was long, and to those who actually read this far, you have my sincere respect.

“Good Saturday to you.

“Peace.”


Here’s the original Facebook post:

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The Call to Love II

About a year ago I posted a blog entry called ‘The Call to Love‘, where I put out God’s call to love everyone unconditionally.

Well, I’m doing it again. Jesus gave only one commandment to His disciples: To love one another. He said that by this will all men know that you are His disciples (Jn 13:35). Love. Love everybody. Love them unconditionally, love them completely.

Also He said that the two ‘greatest commandments’ were to Love God and Love your neighbour (Lk 10:27, Mk 12:30-31). Using Hebrew parallelism, that passage suggests strongly that one goes hand in hand with the other. To love God is to love your neighbour, and to love your neighbour is to love God.

No exceptions are listed either. Love God, love your neighbour.

How simple is that?

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The Fear of the Lord

I’ve heard a lot lately about the ‘fear of the Lord’. Naturally, most people read this as meaning that we have to be terrified of Him; like we’re all miserable sinners good for nothing but thunderbolt fodder (hence my ‘wrathful’ header picture of clouds and lightning!). But naturally I disagree with this entirely. God doesn’t want us to perceive Him like this at all!

The problem with using the word ‘fear’ in relation to God in this context is that, even in modern translations of the Bible, it’s actually an archaic word in its original use, which has for some reason been retained in more modern translations. So of course its modern use does not reflect the way in which people originally used the word. A more healthy term would be ‘respect’ or ‘reverence’, or even, in some cases, ‘worship’. Of course, people who use the term ‘fear’ out of its historical context have managed to use it to instil real fear into the people they are supposed to be pastoring. Like in this ‘demotivational’ slogan I saw recently:

scariest truths god judge youI mean, come on. A friend has tried to explain this to me in a gentle way, but I really can’t see it making any sense in the light of the Father’s Love that I personally know….

I cannot put it more plainly: the Believer has absolutely no reason to be scared of his/her Heavenly Father.

He means us nothing but good, and He looks on His children with nothing but favour. I’ve written before on the hopelessly and cripplingly incorrect doctrine of the ‘Angry God’, and I want to reiterate here that the Angry God is not the God Who loves us so much that He got down and dirty and came to save us – mainly from incorrect doctrines like that. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the evil one (1Jn3:8) – and the biggest work by far that the evil one has made is to create a horrible god after his own image, and then stick that label on my beautiful Heavenly Father, so that Jesus had to come in order to show us what God is really like! And sadly so many people believe in the Angry God nowadays that to try to present Him in His true nature is seen as heresy. So the ‘Fear of the Lord’ has, as usual, been twisted and used to misrepresent my Father’s character.

Right, less of the rant; I want to pass you over to Paul Ellis, a great writer who’s heavy on Grace (which suits me right down to the ground) for a superb article on his blog, on the correct meaning of the Fear of God. Click the ‘Escape to Reality’ image below to go to the article.

Brace yourself: this seriously could change your life. Enjoy!

escape_to_reality

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“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’ “

Most of my readers know how much I love to use the mythology of Star Wars to illustrate theological points from the Christian faith. And of course there is no better character than Jedi Master Yoda when it comes to wisdom quotes. With his backwards-facing speech and small stature, it’s easy to underestimate him – until you realise that he’s over 800 years old and has lived under the guidance of the Force (the Star Wars universe’s version of God) for his whole life. He’s compassionate and gentle, wise and powerful. Someone once said to me that he thought that Yoda was ‘…a better Christian than some Church people I know’!

Although sometimes his sayings can be most confusing!

Take, for instance, the saying in the title of this piece.

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’ “

This is actually a fair summary of the message of God’s Grace, in a nutshell.

But first, let’s hear it from Master Yoda himself:

And I’m not the only one who found it confusing. For instance, in the Disney XD series ‘Star Wars Rebels‘, there’s an exchange between Jedi Kanan Jarrus and his young Padawan (apprentice), Ezra Bridger, talking about it:

As I said above, this is indeed a fair summary of the message of God’s Grace, in terms of what we need to do to please God. Naturally, I’m ripping it entirely out of its original context, and saying something completely different from what Yoda meant (I think, anyway!) – but still it’s useful.

“Do, or Do Not, there is no Try”, simply reminds us that in Christ we have the freedom to Do, or to Do Not. There is absolutely no need to Try.

This is so liberating!

You see, as my regular readers will know, I am a strong proponent of Grace. God’s Grace: the undeserved favour of Almighty God given freely and without hindrance or condition to His children. In all the world’s religions, there are really only two main approaches: there’s Legalism, and there’s Grace. And Christianity, at its core, is the only faith which promotes Grace, and this entirely through the finished work of Jesus Christ – although sadly, much of the time, it is bound up with so much other legalistic religious baggage that it’s undetectable in its true form.

Simply put, Legalism is: do this, do this, don’t do that, don’t do that. Try harder to impress God and He’ll look upon you with favour.

Grace, however, is: it’s already done! Because of the freedom Grace brings, Grace is “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’. “

Grace gives you the freedom to choose to do, or do not, without the Law telling you what to do or not to do. Grace allows you to live life by the Spirit of God, life ‘in the Spirit’, completely unfettered by human expectations of how you ‘should’ obey God’s Law. In short, Do, or Do Not. If you begin to ‘Try’, then you immediately fall into Law and you have ‘fallen from Grace’ (Gal 5:4) in that you are no longer in the state where you are relying on Grace to do things for you, such as making you righteous, fulfilling the Law in Christ and so on. You cannot be in Grace and Law at the same time; it’s either one or the other. To coin a Star Wars phrase, again, you need to ‘trust in the Force’, to ‘let go’ and let God work out His will for you as you walk in the Spirit.

“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’ “

Because the flesh and the law work together, there is no try, because try is doomed to failure. The Law is weakened by sin, and sin increases through the Law (Rom 7:5-6). The two therefore work together in a vicious circle to produce fruitlessness and death. If you want to live by Law, fine; you will still enjoy fellowship with God after a fashion, even though you will likely be adding in lots of additional burdens like rule-keeping, expected behaviour and having to toe the party line on certain issues like creation/evolution and gay/straight debates. There is a form of fellowship with God there, because God allows people to ‘do legalism’ without it affecting how He sees them. But it’s not because of the Rules you think you’re keeping so well (in fact you will probably be conscious of how badly you’re keeping them!); no, It’s because of God’s Grace, apart from Law, that you are already made acceptable to God in Christ. But unless you come into the real freedom of the Children of God (Rom 8:21) then you will never be free, completely free, from the desire to please others, from the jumping through man-made hoops in order to please God, and all that other baggage. Make no mistake – the desire to please God through following rules almost always turns into trying to please men, because in actual fact it’s their rules you end up trying to keep, not God’s. The Pharisees of Jesus’s day had the Ten Commandments and some other laws too, but they also added lots of other man-made rules of their own. You see the problem? This still goes on today…..

Grace is over Law – the Law of God which essentially states that everyone has to be perfect, and therefore naturally leads us to the point where we realise we can’t be perfect. And so it leads us to Grace, because the function of the Law is to show us our need for Grace (Rom 7:13). The key here is to realise that and accept it, rather than to go on struggling under Law!

“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’ “

Paul, talking about God’s dealing with Israel with regards to the Gospel, (but the principle applies to Jew and Gentile believer alike), says in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (NIV) The King James Version actually adds in more, which I find helpful: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” Romans 11:6 (KJV). That elaboration in the KJV is helpful because it explains that whichever mode of belief you subscribe to – Law (works) or Grace – they are mutually exclusive. You cant exist in both states at the same time. To try to do so means you become ‘double-minded‘ because you are in and out of the ‘state of Grace’ and blown about all over the place (Jas 1:5-8)

“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’ “

I still maintain that, for many believers (even those who understand Grace), the temptation to become acceptable to God through performance – ‘works’ – is a vestigial remnant of their desire to please God in their own strength. But what of where James says in Jas 2:14-26 that “faith without works is dead”? Don’t we need both faith and works? Yes, but only in that works are the fruit of faith. A life lived in faith will produce good works; as usual in many Christian circles a lot of people have got it back-to front and said that good works prove your faith. In one sense they do, but it is not the job of fellow believers to be ‘fruit inspectors’ who ‘police’ others’ works! And the interesting thing here is that actually even those whose walk is under Law still do produce some fruit, because their hearts are in one sense right before God in that they desire Him and desire to walk with Him. But the primary holdup with Law is that the Law-walking believer is never walking in the complete freedom that is his by birthright.

Why have I gone to such lengths to describe the futility of the walk under Law in this piece?

Because these are all examples of Try. It’s all about what we do, rather than about what Christ has already done. What part of Christ’s work does the Legalistic believer think was not completed properly, such that he needs to complete Christ’s work for Him? No, this is Try. Even for those who claim to recognise Grace, but then try to prove they love God by trying to obey rules, it’s not really living under Grace; it’s living under ‘mixture‘. True Grace is completely different. There is no compulsion to try to fulfil the Law in order to please God, because Jesus has already fulfilled the Law on our behalf. There is the freedom to Do – works for God flowing from the depth of our love, and relationship with, Him – but not in order to try to earn His favour, which we already have. The freedom to enjoy life with all its blessings without human rules and expectations getting in the way. There is the freedom to Do Not; the freedom to just rest in God and trust Him for all our own righteousness rather than try to earn it for ourselves – which we can’t do anyway!

Despite all my convoluted explanations above, it’s really very simple.

Under Grace, you have the freedom to Do; you have the freedom to Do Not.

But to Try – I think we’ve already seen how futile this is.

No, it’s always got to be this:

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’ “
do-donot-yoda-pie-chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

And May the Force be With You!

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