Religious Christmas Poem About Jesus Birth

A Christian Christmas Poem About the Birth of Christ

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“ILLUMINATION”

Seeds of fire grow with smoky breath.
Tongues of flame lick the darkness
and eat away the barriers to sight.
Slowly shadows melt off of objects
once obscured beneath black blankets of night.

As the heat rises, images of revelation meet the eyes.
Secrets are revealed.
Knowledge comes crashing like water through a flood gate
beaten by a power it can no longer contain.
The Light illuminates life
like a candle in a pitch-black room.
Wisdom finds a new master
as it discovers it was a fool.

The Light flashes before the eyes
in waves of soothing warmth
and unravels the threads of night’s curtain.
Fear loses meaning in the face of safety.
The proud humble themselves before Him,
in light of life’s true meaning.
Glory dances in joyful sway.
Tongues of fire rise from the black sea
to reign over a new day,
licking eyes and crying, “Holy, holy, holy”,
illuminating a world once covered in utter darkness.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

You may also these Christian poems and posts about Advent and Christmas –
Be Aware, Be Alert, Be Ready – A Commentary For Advent
When Love Stepped Off His Throne
Emmanuel – God With Us.

You can find all of my Christian poetry HERE

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Be Aware. Be Alert. Be Ready – A Commentary For Advent

No One Knows That Day and Hour

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is the servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place their will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

-Matthew 24:36-51

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Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, and my personal favorite time of the year for reflection and prayer. Advent is particularly seen as a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is also a time period for those of us in the northern hemisphere where the days are colder, days are getting shorter, and where your work days begin and end in the dark.

But winter is not just a season of darkness, but also of stillness and quiet. Though we are called everyday of the year, Advent in particular gives us a chance to reconnect with our center, spend time in quiet prayer; and be aware, alert, and ready for the coming of Christ.

The scripture reading above is not popular; it does not make us feel warm and fuzzy and is easily tossed aside because we don’t want to confront the truth – that we will be held accountable for our actions and there will come a time when Jesus comes again.

Furthermore, I think it really shakes up our image of Jesus as this fun loving character; this hippie with long hair, a beard,  is all about peace and love, and doesn’t really care about how you live your life as long as you believe in him. Many people have no problem with the New Testament, but swear off the Old as archaic and filled with a God they want no part of. The New Testament is often seen as containing a God of love, while the Old Testament is riddled with a God of anger and wrath.

The problem is that if we have that preconceived notion, it means we haven’t been reading very carefully. If we see Jesus as just our buddy who never judges our behavior and offers us unconditional love and grace without any hard truths, we’ve been cherry picking his teachings. We come across passages such as the one above and either purposely skip over them or water them down by saying, “Well, he didn’t actually mean it that way…he was just being extreme to make a point.” We must be very careful and make sure we are serving the real Jesus, and not the culturally cool Jesus. The same God who resides in the Old Testament resides in the New.

Jesus warns us that there will be a time of judgement and one person will be left, while the other one taken. he stresses, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” As if the fact that some will be left behind is not scary enough, even more frightening is that I don’t believe he is referring to “good” and “bad” people. If that was the case, there would be little use in giving a long sermon about being alert and ready. For the most part, I think we all know whether we fall into society’s class of “good” or “bad”. No. I don’t think he is preaching to wicked people; he is directing it at believers who are asleep or have not fully given their life over to him.

Being a follower of Jesus is not an easy walk. There are time periods in our lives where it is not convenient socially or personally to stay true to the Gospel. How many times have you desired to develop a closer relationship with God or known you need to change certain behaviors, but you put it off to a later date because you’re too busy, too young, too proud, or not ready yet? I know I have countless times and still continue to use those excuses.

For the overwhelming majority of the population, I think we believe in God, want a relationship with him, and want to be a “good” person; but now is never a good time. We’ll get around to it next year, 10 years from now, when we retire, or before we die. And we are exactly the people Jesus is referring to as the “wicked servant” who puts off his duty and falls into sinful behaviors because “my master is delayed”.

Jesus does not say, “if the Son of Man comes”, but “the Son of Man is coming”. When he does, will I be ready? Personally, I have always wondered how so many of the Jews could deny Jesus when there were prophecies all throughout the scriptures promising that he would come. How could they be right next to him and not know he was the Messiah? I think it’s for the same reason that we believe in him, but don’t alter our behaviors or procrastinate following him – it’s not easy and forces us to let go of our ego and selfish desires. They could not see Jesus for who he was because they were not alert or ready, even though God promised he would come.

God has also promised us that he will come again. Let us not be like the Pharisees, but be ready and be doing the master’s work when he returns. I think we all have a conceived notion of the End of the World as some drawn out event  in which we can quickly change our ways before it’s too late. But in the parable of the servant and the master, Jesus portrays a much different view. We have already been warned that he’s coming, so if we’re not ready it’s because we haven’t listened and are wicked.

It’s not just the End of the World that we have to worry about. No one knows the time of place they’ll die. It could be tomorrow; it could be 50 years from now. But don’t wait to do the master’s work until he surprises you at your door.

I don’t think Jesus used the passage to scare us, but because he loves us. Who lets their child go into a dangerous situation without warning them first? God is no different. He is merely trying to get our attention that we need to not take this lightly and need to be prepared.

During this Advent season, as we prepare for the birth of Christ, let us retreat into the silence and open our minds and hearts to what God is speaking to us. Let us analyze our behaviors and motives, making sure that we are alert and ready for the Light of the World. Let us take this season to finally fully commit our life to Jesus and not put it off any longer, so that we can joyfully embrace the master when he arrives home and not be surprised and ashamed when he knocks at the door.

-Post Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: It Snows via photopin (license)

FREE Childrens Short Story “My Christmas Adventure”

716PZKD6-uL._SL1500_I have just released my fifth short story, “My Christmas Adventure”, on Amazon. It is aimed at children roughly ages 7-10. It will be temporarily free today only through the Kindle Store.

“Johnathan can’t wait for Christmas morning. As he lies in bed on Christmas Eve, he hears a noise out in the living room and goes out to investigate. What he finds leads him on a trip to the North Pole.”

“My Christmas Adventure” can be found here.

You may also be interested in my other short stories. 


81+VfuX+HBL._SL1500_“What’s Brewing Next Door?”
– “When mysterious neighbors move in next door in the middle of the night, Katherine and Josh are sure there’s something not quite right about them – no one has ever seen them and their garage door is always shut. Josh decides to take matters into his own hands one day and attempts to investigate the house next door. Josh and his sister find out the answers to their questions, but it’s worse than they ever imagined…”

 

91Eh2zvyTKL._SL1500_The Storm“When a unusual storm hits the Utopian town of Nod, the forces of evil are released and allow an unthinkable tragedy.”

 

 

 

81Ay84qij0L._SL1500_The Christmas Gift – “A depressed man – who has long given up on his dream to become a writer and now holds a high paying, corporate job – gets reintroduced to his childhood through extreme circumstances and finds his love for writing reawakened by a Christmas gift.”

 

 

91nN-1ryp6L._SL1500_The Mummy in the Museum – “An adventure of a 9 year old child on a school field trip to their local history museum to visit the new Egyptian exhibit. Trouble strikes when the exhibit turns into a real pyramid with an ancient danger…” 

 

 

I’d appreciate any comments, feedback, or reviews. Thanks!

When Love Stepped Off His Throne

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Strung high above, dangling and dancing
among the darkest night,
shines a light for all –
a star that guides to the bread of life.
A mighty King lies in a strange, wooden bed
wrapped in unclean robes and lying on a pillow of straw,
ox and ass gathered by his head.
A beautiful Servant, never too proud,
but humble from birth,
yet deserving more riches
than any man to walk this earth.
In his weakness, he conquered more land
than the mightiest army or sharpest sword,
by his kindness, won more hearts-
we willingly give him our lives and call him Lord.

And who are we to welcome
the one who hung the stars?
Who are we to dwell with the one
who holds the universe in his outstretched arms?
When he knew we were lost,
he shrank himself to show us the way.
Even knowing what it would cost,
he was willing to wash our sins away.
“Word became flesh”
divine willfully shackled in bone.
Love bore the ultimate price coming to us,
when Love stepped off his throne.


 

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Staying Sober During the Holidays

4200971640_53e87a01c3With the holidays coming up, I thought I might offer some suggestions on how to make it through without drinking or using – at least the things that I will be doing to keep myself focused. For whatever the reason, I think Christmas is always the hardest holiday to stay sober. Many of us are living in cold climates, there’s snow on the ground, a fire blazing in the fireplace, and a drink sure sounds good. I’ve been sober long enough that the actual urge to drink isn’t there, but feelings still play upon my heart which can be just as dangerous.

Christmas has the tendency to cause us to reminisce – to think of past loves, memories, empty promises, or broken dreams. For me, even if I’m with the people I love, the season still makes me feel like there’s something missing or things aren’t the way they “should be”. Hopefully, your memories are happy ones, but for many of us as alcoholics and addicts, there’s quite a few skeletons in our closets. The one thing we hate to feel is deep emotion inside of that shakes us at the core, regardless if it’s happy or sad. Christmas usually brings a combination of both of those feelings, so we have to be ready to combat them.

Make a Conscious Decision to Change the View You Have of Christmas 

One of the difficult things I’ve dealt with is changing my outlook on Christmas. When I was actively drinking, it was a great excuse to get drunk, party, and not feel too bad about it. New Years was just around the corner, which was another drunk fest. Sure, I liked spending time with family and friends and the whole Christmas spirit, but if I’m honest, I looked forward to the party much more than anything else. If I wasn’t getting drunk on Christmas or New Years, it was kind of like “what’s the point?” But when you’re sober, you can’t continue to view the holidays in the same way you used to because you’re either going to be miserable, be resentful, and/or get drunk.

The way I dealt with it was by trying to reconnect with my childhood self, trying to remember what it was that I looked forward to then. Ok, we all can’t pretend Santa is real again, but we can believe in the magic of Christmas and what it means.  It is a time of giving, love, gratitude, and family. By focusing on that magic, instead of the false sense of control or stability we feel when we’re getting drunk or high, we can see what we’ve been missing for many years and rediscover the magic.

For those that are Christians, it can be very helpful to mediate on the meaning of Christmas through God’s sacrifice. By keeping our attention focused on the Christ in “Christmas”, it turns our awareness away from our self and onto Emmanuel. Even if you are not a Christian, you can still use the season as a time to think about others and focus on giving instead of receiving. Viewing Christmas as a holiday about Him or them drastically changes our mindset, getting us out of ourselves and worrying about others instead of worrying about getting drunk or high.

Stay in the Moment 

This is my toughest area. Often times, the Christmas season and this time of year can make me depressed or lonely. When I get lonely, I begin looking back into the past, hanging onto “better” days. Let’s just be honest. We had some good times drinking and using. They are a part of who we are and always will be. You can’t pretend that they don’t exist, but you need to be careful of glorifying them or pretending that you could do them again because you can’t. Just as you can’t go back and relieve waiting anxiously for Christmas morning as a child, you can’t go back and have great times without great consequences. You’re a different person now, and you must recognize and accept that. When you find your mind drifting back into time, consciously try to shift it back into the present moment and make new memories. We can’t change or relive the past and will never know what the future holds. The only thing we have control over is the present. Don’t drift back into old thinking patterns. Accept your new you and be proud of the person you’re becoming and already are.

Avoiding Old Mistakes 

I think this is the area that is hardest for people without much time under their belt, but that even people with a lot of time can get tripped up on. We tend to believe that we’re much stronger than we are. We know we don’t want to drink/use. We know sobriety is the best life for us and our families, but it’s Christmas, right? What’s Christmas without a big party? Too many people put themselves in the same situations that got them in the mess they’re in and expect things to be different this time.

What’s the definition of insanity ? (I know. I hate hearing it as much as the next person, but it’s true) “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yes, you are a different person, but you’re still an alcoholic/addict regardless of how many days, months, or years you’ve been sober. It sucks, but you can’t change that. Too often people relapse not because they consciously sought it out, but because they played with fire and got burnt. I am not saying lock yourself in your home and talk to no one. I am saying be careful about going to familiar party spots that are going to bring up memories that you don’t want to deal with and temptations that are best left not tested. Remember, it’s ok to stay no. Your sobriety and life are more important than other people’s opinions of you.


Hopefully, this gave you some ideas to get started and ways to stay sober over the holidays. I wish you a very merry Christmas!

 

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Emmanuel – God With Us

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 7:14;9:6)

jesus in mangerIt’s very common around Christmas to begin hearing the word “Emmanuel” used. Many people even know it means “God with us.” But because of its frequent usage, I believe it’s lost a lot of its power and strength. Growing up around church, over the years I guess I’ve just accepted the Christmas story and Christ in general as something that’s expected. We’re weak; therefore, God had to come and save us. Of course God loved us enough to die for us. Of course God should be “with us”. We dress baby Jesus up in a manger and arrange figures of animals and wise men around him and envision it as this peaceful, perfect night. But it was anything but that.

For those who’ve ever been on a farm and around stables, you know that it is not the cleanest environment. It smells. It’s loud. There’s bugs. There’s manure everywhere. It’s much more realistic to think of baby Jesus being born next to a stinky, pile of crap and the animals causing all kinds of noise. Not quiet as holy and peaceful, huh? But of all the places in the world to be born, God chose a stable.

If a meager manger was good enough for God, what does that tell me about all my selfish desires and wants? From day one, Jesus was our “wonderful counselor”, showing us the example of humility. “…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:5-6) He did not come into a perfect world through a perfect birth, but to a broken world through a lowly birth. Too often we forget that. We think it’s natural for God to come to us, but it’s not. When have kings ever left their throne to walk among the sick, beggars, and lame? Isn’t it that much more powerful that the King who hung the stars in the sky and breathed the universe into motion, came to us as a weak, innocent baby?

For us, it is natural to think of Jesus being born, but to the Jews it was a hard pill to swallow. Even though there are hints of the Messiah’s divinity in the Old Testament, the majority of the people believed that God would send them another ruler similar to David, who would rule by force and power. They never would have imagined that the Messiah would have been God himself. “God with Us” referred to giving the Jews a ruler to know that God cared and was on their side, not in the literal sense. The Law allowed only the High Priest to enter the Holy of Holies to be in the presence of God. We’re not talking about seeing God, but just being in his presence. If only one person was worthy to even be near God, why would they believe that God would become human and dwell among us? They didn’t, which is why so many Jews rejected Jesus.

But I believe we take it for granted that God is with us. He made himself nothing so that we could reach him. There is no other religion that believes anything like the divinity of Jesus. Either God is way too powerful and mighty to pay attention to weak, fallen humans, or we’re all apart of God and together we make up God. The religions of the East probably come the closest to Jesus through gods like Krishna who appeared in human form, but they were in form only. They were not fully human and fully God. And that’s what sets Jesus apart.

We have a God who loved us so much that he wanted to dwell close to us and close to our hearts. He humbled himself from day one, living as a divine example and a beacon of light in a world of darkness. Who can say that God doesn’t understand us? For he is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”, but most of all he is Emmanuel – God with us.

 

Examining Jesus Christ As A Fictional Character

3591676589_9ba8d25e14Since Jesus began his ministry, non-believers have been trying to shut him up. The Pharisees succeeded temporarily, but after three days found out that it was going to take much more than killing him. The Romans tried, but found that the more followers they killed, the more the Gospel spread. And since then, non-believers and atheists have attacked the credibility of the Bible, Jesus himself, and his followers.

The argument was always that Jesus was a real person, but that he was not God. Non-believers argued that Jesus never claimed his divinity either – that his story was stretched into a myth by his followers hundreds of years later. But recent discoveries in archaeological evidence show  that the Gospels were written close enough to Jesus’ death for eyewitnesses to still be alive, silencing the argument that the stories were made up hundreds of years later. The newest argument is that Jesus never existed at all. As someone who has struggled with doubts, I questioned whether it was possible that he was simply a fictional character and found there’s some serious problems with that claim. So for the sake of this argument, let’s just assume that Jesus is fake – that he is just the invention of a writer’s imagination.

I have been a voracious reader my entire life. I’m sure there are some who read more than I do, but not many. Books have introduced me to hundreds of characters throughout literature. But no one in all the books I’ve ever read or ever heard of comes close to Jesus. You can like him or hate him, but he’s the strongest character in all of literature. The hardest part to swallow is that he’s the strongest character for all the wrong reasons. I think I speak for most people when I say that the characters I love most in books are people I can relate to, people that are similar to me, or people that have my weaknesses. It’s like seeing a reflection of you on the page, but the better you that you’ve always wanted to be.

No one reads about Jesus and says, “Yep, that’s me.” You can’t relate to Jesus.  You may adore him, but he’s not someone you know or recognize. He’s human, but he’s not human. Because no one can relate to him, there is no reason that he should be a strong character. He should be a lukewarm character, but strangely he draws you in closer than any person you’ve ever read about, demanding that you find out more about him.

Jesus is also too perfect. Every character has some flaws, even if the writer didn’t intentionally give them to the character. Jesus has none. And we hate that in a sense, don’t we? Someone that is perfect is labeled as a “goody two-shoes” in our minds. But with Jesus it’s different. We admire him. We are in awe of him, wondering why there can’t be more people like him in the world. Even his words are perfect. Every character says something in a book that sounds weak, shows internal flaws, or leaves us feeling like the author made a poor choice in words. Not Jesus. We may not like his words, but they are powerful enough to convict us and leave us wrestling with them hours after reading them.

Every sentence in a good book either tells the reader something about the characters or pushes the plot forward. There are numerous places in the New Testament that do neither. They are just random recordings of real life. Jesus tells Nathanael in John’s Gospel, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” (John 1:48) Mentioning the fig tree without telling the reader the background story just does not make sense from a fictional perspective. No writer would ever do it. It only makes sense if someone is describing a real event.

If we assume that the whole Bible is a fictional work, the character of Jesus himself makes no sense. One of the main reasons Jesus was rejected was because he did not fit the image the Jews had of the Messiah in the Old Testament. They were looking for someone who was going to overcome by force and power, instead of humility and love. The expectation of who the Messiah was supposed to be caused the people to turn on him. What kind of book builds up the climax for nearly 2000 pages and then completely changes the plot? None. Imagine if at the end of “The Lord of the Rings” Frodo goes to destroy the ring and changes his mind. He puts the ring back on and disappears, shoving Sam into Mount Doom and evil prevails. That would be silly, right? Why would the Old Testament build up the Messiah, and then have him come in a different form than expected, only to be executed, unless it really happened? No writer can make that kind of stuff up.

Few works of literature have the ability to touch generations of people. As the years go by, characters lose their ability to relate to the current generation because times have changed. I love “The Great Gatsby”, but I don’t think I can relate to Jay quite the same way people that grew up in that era did. Serious readers can enjoy Shakespeare, but the average student can’t stand him because of how “old” it sounds. Our personality also changes as we get older, which changes how we relate to characters. As a teen, my favorite character was Holden Caulfield. I thought everything he said made perfect sense. When I reread it as an adult, I had some pity on him, but I didn’t love him anymore – I could hardly stand him. Jesus doesn’t change.He is eternal. You are attracted to Jesus for the same reasons when you’re 15 as when you’re 65. Love. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Humility. Servitude. Those are all characteristics that humans admire and why Jesus continues to draw both the educated and uneducated to him nearly 2000 years later.

The main issue I came to when questioning the idea of Jesus being made up came from my writing background. I have created my own stories and know from personal experience, as well as listening to dozens of other writers, that characters are created from what or who we know as writers. Every character that is created usually has a touch of our own personality or of someone very close to us. So where in the world would the concept of Jesus come from? I don’t know anyone remotely like him because there isn’t anyone like him. I guess you could argue that the concept would come from how the writers envisioned God, but even that has its issues. It is nearly impossible to imagine that someone in the first century could have made a character both human and divine and appear perfect on paper. Because what I think is a perfect human, my next door neighbor might disagree with. I don’t think there is anyone that can look at Jesus from a purely “fictional” mindset and think he’s not perfect or respect him. Even with that said, something is bound to slip through the cracks of time to flaw a character’s perfect nature. Customs change and what is appropriate in one time frame is not in another. Jesus still remains as perfect today as he was 2000 years ago.

In the 2000 years since his death, there have been brilliant authors. Yet, none have come up with a character as strong as Jesus. Isn’t it odd that four Jews in the first century, who were not writers by trade, created a character that no one since them has been able to duplicate? Jesus’ selflessness is also not normal. Every great, powerful character, even if they are good, show off their powers at some point. They demonstrate their powers through spells, flying, turning invisible, etc. Jesus never does any of those. The only power he uses is to heal and help others, even neglecting his own life on the cross. You can kill off a side character, but you never kill off the main character by an apparent act of weakness. When the story is saying that Jesus should save himself, he doesn’t. And that’s what is so unnatural about Jesus. He always does the opposite of what human nature tells you he should. A writer may have one shocking twist up their sleeve, but not the kind that happen in the Gospels. It’s the kind of stuff so foreign to us, that it doesn’t even seem possible to make up.

Some people may claim that believing in Jesus is crazy and in some respects they may be right. It is hard to believe a tale so extraordinary. But to believe that a tax collector, an unknown Evangelist, a Doctor, and a fisherman in the first century created the greatest character the world has ever seen is far more unbelievable.It can be argued that one of the reasons he’s a great character is because people believe he’s real. But the desire for a character to be real is surely the best confirmation that they’re a great character. Judging by the number of people who believe in him, it only confirms that Jesus is the greatest the world has ever known.


 

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The Christmas Gift – A Short Story Free On Amazon For 5 Days

81Ay84qij0L._SL1500_I have just released my second short story, “The Christmas Gift”, on Amazon. It will be temporarily free for 5 days through the Kindle Store. It is a great redemption story for anyone who has ever given up on a dream, especially for artists. As a warning, there are a few mild curse words.

“A depressed man – who has long given up on his dream to become a writer and now holds a high paying, corporate job – gets reintroduced to his childhood through extreme circumstances and finds his love for writing reawakened by a Christmas gift.”

The story can be found here.

You can also find my first story, “The Mummy in the Museum”, which is a children’s/young adult story which is “an adventure of a 9 year old child on a school field trip to their local history museum to visit the new Egyptian exhibit. Trouble strikes when the exhibit turns into a real pyramid with an ancient danger…” here.

I’d appreciate any comments, feedback, or reviews. Thanks!