A question from a reader: Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses call God, ‘Jehovah’?

Although Yahweh is probably a better rendering of the divine name, Jehovah is the most common English rendering for the Hebrew consonants YHWH.   YHWH or Jehovah means, “he is/becomes/will be(come),” or “causes to be/become.” In the Bible, it is His covenant name with Israel that expressed His nature, and separated Him from the many demonic deities that surrounded Israel. For example, Chemosh was the god of Moab, but Jehovah is the God of Israel.

Therefore, based upon the scriptures, Jehovah’s Witnesses and all Christians believe that God’s name is Jehovah. The difference is that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God is a singular being, where as Christianity teaches that Jehovah God exists as a Triune being.

Since the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in a Trinity, they also redefine Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They teach that before coming to earth, Jesus was the Archangel Michael, and they define the Holy Spirit not as a person, but as God’s active force. By emphasizing the name Jehovah and by taking the name, ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’, they feel that they are taking a step away from the rest of Christianity as the true followers of Jehovah God.

Christmas Tea

Oaks 12.12On December 1, 2012, I spoke at a Women’s Christmas Tea at the Oaks Family Care Center in Brunswick, Ohio. The Oaks ministers to family needs including pregnancy support. I had to laugh as we put together my teaching stand. Appropriate for the Oaks ministry, it consisted of a high chair with a diaper pail on top of it.

I spoke on “God to the rescue.” The event was a fundraiser for the purchase of an Ultrasound machine as an expansion of the Oaks ministry. It was a wonderful time to catch up with old friends and meet many new ones.

What do you do when facing a problem? Part 6 (Conclusion)

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Click on the picture for the podcast

You may listen to the podcast by clicking on the picture to the left.

As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling, and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground. 

So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 1 Samuel 17:48-51

Having faith is all about putting actions to our words, and that’s exactly what David did. He acted and allowed God to work through him. The result was that a mere boy defeated the giant. It would have never happened that way if he had not responded to his problem in faith.  That is faith not only in God, but also that God could use him. David didn’t expect that God would it fix it all on His own. Instead, he knew that God wants to use us as active participants in solving our problems. Rarely does God just make it go away.

You know, problems are not always totally negative. In fact, most people enjoy problems, just not their own. Every good fictional story, play or movie has at least one problem, sometimes more. The whole purpose of the story is to solve one or more problems. Those problems might be an inner struggle like a low self-esteem or as in the movie, The King’s Speech stuttering. Or, it could be a relational problem, a mystery, invading aliens, or environmental issues. Whatever the problem, truly great stories not only have problems, but have problems that twist and turn getting worse all the time. The audience is on the edge of their seats wondering what the hero will do next, or how will he or she get out of this mess now?

So, we don’t really dislike problems. We just dislike it when problems come into our own lives. However, when they do come into our lives, if they are not tragic, they can have a positive effect on us. When they are handled correctly, they give God the opportunity to work in our lives, and sometimes help to prepare us for a greater purpose. Just as David’s victory over Goliath would make him a national hero, and help set the stage for David to become the next king of Israel. God knew what he was doing, and God knows what he is doing in our lives too.

So, God wants to work through us. Even though God could have just opened up the ground and swallowed Goliath right up, he usually does not work that way. He didn’t do it for David, and more than likely he won’t just miraculously remove our problems either. Instead, he wants to partner with us to solve the problem, so that we can grow and mature through the experience. That is especially true when the problem is the result of our making a poor decision. We should ask God, “How can I grow to be more like Jesus through this situation?”

The Bible says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5.

It is also very important how we handle problems. We can either grow, by calming trusting in God, or are we can frantically run around displaying our short temper with everyone. We can trust that whatever problem has surprised us, it was not a surprise to God, who already knew that it was coming, and wants to partner with us to resolve it.  If we do that, we just might end up with a stellar story of our own to share about how God has worked in our life. After all, he makes a great co-author.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

What do you do when facing a problem? Part 5

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Click on the picture for the podcast.

David walks out to meet the giant. The scriptures tell us that Goliath had four other giants in his family. It is unclear whether they were his brothers or his sons. Either way, it is noteworthy that David picked up four extra stones, just in case.

So, “Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David. “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 1 Samuel 17:41-47.

Wow! Did David give it to him, or what? Regardless of what his fellow soldiers thought about his chances for survival, they must have been proud of his spunk!

          I remember one summer when my family had a week long reunion at my grandparent’s farm in West Virginia. Usually our farm visits were very boring, but not this time, because all of the grandkids were there, and we were having a blast.

          One afternoon Elaine, the oldest grandchild who was a teenager and admired by the rest of us, had an idea. “Let’s go into the barnyard and see Bessie!”

          Now Bessie was my grandparent’s mean old cow. She was mean to everyone, including my grandparents. And, we had been warned many times to stay away from her.

          Elaine started over the barnyard gate. It seemed like a good idea, yet for the life of me I can’t remember why, but isn’t that the way it is. Doesn’t a bad idea, or a poor choice seem like the right thing to do at the time?

          Well, once over the gate, hand in hand we started walking towards Bessie. Now, Bessie gave us the eye but keep on eating. So, we got closer to her, but was careful to walk only about ten feet away from fence.

Some of the younger ones, were starting to beg to go back. But, Elaine in a fearless voice said, “Never fear, Elaine is here.” That was something that we would never let her forget! So, on we walked, but now Bessie wasn’t taking her eyes off of us.

          Hearing the pleas of the younger ones, I started to re-evaluate my situation. Perhaps, this wasn’t such a good idea after all. It was about that time that Elaine told us to meet death with a smile. She no sooner got those words out of her mouth, when Bessie did the unexpected. She put down her horns and charged us! Our screams brought our parents to the front porch as they watched us scramble over the barb wire fence. About the same age as David in our story, Elaine bravely made sure that everyone of us were safe before she climbed over the fence too. Fortunately, no one was hurt, just a few scratches from the fence. And the incident did provide some good quality time with our parents, if you know what I mean.

          It was a near tragedy, but we were just playing! However, when Bessie put down her horns and charged us, the game was over. Is that what David is doing? Did he really know what he was getting into?

          Now, Goliath charges David. This is the moment of truth. Up to this point, there’s been a lot of talk going on, but now what will David do? Will he turn and run back? David, no one would blame you for running. You’re just a boy, not a match for that mountain of flesh and metal. But David, if you’re going to run, now’s the time! So, David ran! That is, he ran straight toward Goliath!

Sometimes the answer is to charge the problem like David did with Goliath, but sometimes the answer is to run away from mean old cows like Bessie. There is wisdom in knowing which is God’s solution for a given problem.

Next week, we will conclude the story. You are welcome to leave a comment or question. To the left of the webpage, click on this episode and the reply box will appear under the blog.

1 Samuel 17:41-47. Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

What should you do when facing a problem? Part 4

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Click on picture for a six-minute podcast.

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So far we have addressed two principles:

Principle 1:         Start with a relationship with God.

Principle 2:         Replace fear with faith

Today we continue the story about David and Goliath.

After David told King Saul that he would fight the giant, the king finally gives in and says, “Ok, go, and God help you!”

Then, Saul gave David his own armor to wear. He gave David his bronze helmet along with the coat of mail. David put them on and strapped the sword over it. He had never worn anything like it. When he took a step or two, he told the king that he could barely move. So, he gave it all back to the king.

Then, he picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his bag. Armed only with the stones, his shepherd’s staff and a sling, he headed towards the enemy’s line.

Our third Principle when facing a problem is to use what has been tested in our life. This is not the time to experiment with something that is unproven.  For years while shepherding, David had developed an expertise with his sling and staff. He did not change his strategy now with the biggest opponent he has ever faced.

 The same is true for us. We need to use what has been tested in our life. Fall back on what we know well, what God has used in our life before. David used what he was good at.

Like David, everything that we need for our situation, God has already given us the tools, and will empower the effectiveness of those gifts when we put our faith in Him.

I wonder what David’s brothers were thinking about now, watching their baby brother walk out to meet Goliath. For that matter, I wonder what the entire Israeli army was thinking.  They were probably thinking something like, “Boy are we sunk!” One thing I am sure of, there wasn’t any cheering going on for David. There was probably just silence, shock and disbelief all around him.

No one believed that he had a chance. Remember how his brother treated him when he arrived? Remember what the king said when he first saw David and heard that he wanted to fight the giant. King Saul said, “Don’t be ridiculous. How can a kid like you fight a man like him? You are only a boy and he has been in the army since he was a boy.” Indeed, no one believed in him. If David had viewed himself through the eyes of those around him, he would have never ventured onto that field.

The Fourth Principle is don’t limit yourself by how others view you.

Indeed, no one believed in David, but did you know that Jesus had the same problem? There were many who did not believe in Jesus. There were religious leaders did not believe in him. Furthermore, in John 7:1-5 it says that Jesus’ own brothers didn’t believe in him, and in Mark 3:21, it says that his family came to talk to him because they thought that he had lost his senses! Well, I guess in comparison to all of the rest of us, a perfect man might seem a bit unusual. Yet, after his resurrection, at least two of his brothers came to understand and to believe in him. Later, they wrote two books of the New Testament, the book of James and the book of Jude.

Sometimes like David and Jesus we don’t get any encouragement from those around us. If that is your situation, try not to take it personal. Sometimes, people who have always known you in one role find it easy to underestimate your abilities. Therefore, they are blinded to your possibilities. Sometimes, you just have to have the grace to ignore their lack of enthusiasm. So, I am not saying for you to just go ahead and believe in yourself. Instead, what I am saying is that you don’t need other people’s approval to believe in what God can do through you.

At this point in the story, David is ready to fight the giant with only a sling, a shepherd’s staff and some small stones; and we will find that God is able to use that. Like David, in spite of what others think about us, if we place our faith in God, He will use what He has already given us to bring down the giants in our lives.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question.

I look forward to hearing from you.

1 Samuel 17

What do I do when facing a problem? Part 3

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Click on the picture for the podcast.

Our first principle last week was to start with a relationship with God.

 This week, we continue to examine a problem that existed about 3,000 years ago. The nation of Israel and Philistia were at war. Encamped on two opposite hills, the Philistine army sent out their giant champion, named Goliath who makes the challenge to the Israeli army to send out someone to fight him. Winner takes all.

Meanwhile, there’s a boy tending sheep in Bethlehem, named David who has three brothers who were out on the hillside with King Saul. One day, his father sends him to check on his older brothers. While there, he hears Goliath’s challenge. David starts inquiring about what is going on. He just can’t believe that no one will go out and fight Goliath and shut him up. Word reaches the king about the fight-sty boy. Then, King Saul sends for him.

      David tells the king, “Don’t worry about a thing, I’ll take care of this Philistine.”

King Saul probably couldn’t believe his ears.

“Don’t be ridiculous!” the king responded. “How can a kid like you fight with a man like him? You are only a boy and he has been in the army since he was a boy!”

But David persisted, “When I am taking care of my father’s sheep, and a lion or a bear comes and grabs a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and take the lamb from its mouth. IF it turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this heathen Philistine too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!” The Lord who saved me from the claws and teeth of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!”

The second principle that we will address today is to Replace fear with faith

Fear is an awful thing. Fear can hinder us from tackling problems or from pursuing our dreams.  Fear can paralysis and freeze us into a non-active state. We can feel so overwhelmed that we do nothing at all. Or it can send us running. That is where King Saul and the Israeli army were. They could do nothing but run away whenever Goliath appeared.

Let us consider something. Who or what is your Goliath? What problem seems overwhelming? It might be a health condition, a relational or financial problem, or a work related issue.

I have a Goliath that I am facing. I have been working on a book for over two years, and I am about 2/3rds the way done. This is the first time, that I have ever attempted to write an entire book. I have written articles before, but never a whole book. Not only do I face the challenge of completing the manuscript, but I also face many re-writes, the search for an agent, and finally finding a publisher who is interested in the manuscript. All of this forms a huge challenge, a Goliath for someone who is virtually an unknown.

So who or what is your Goliath? And, what would you do if you were not afraid of it?

Whatever your Goliath, no matter how big it seems, it is nothing in comparison to God. We need to take the perspective that our God is bigger than any problem or challenge that we have.

      The Israelites were afraid of Goliath, because they compared themselves to him. He was huge and they felt that they were nothing in comparison. But, David was not afraid, because he didn’t compare Goliath to himself, if he had, he would have had every reason to be afraid. Instead, he compared Goliath to God, and Goliath was no match for God. The same is true for you and me. Our God is bigger than our Goliaths. We may not be able to handle them, but our God is fully able to. When we remember that, we begin to replace fear with faith.

We need to enlarge our faith, in order to meet the challenge. We need to remember how God has worked in our lives and in the lives of others, and then apply that to our current situation.  We need to be like David who recalled to King Saul how God had helped him when he fought the lion and the bear. Since God had helped him then, he had full confidence that God would help him fight the Philistine too.

That is what we need to do. We need to consider if there is a similar situation when God had helped us. Remembering what God has done in our past, helps us to have faith to meet our challenges for today. Since, God did not fail us then, why would He fail us now?

That’s why it is also important to study the Bible and to learn about God’s faithfulness in the past as He has worked in the lives of others, because our God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The Bible says, that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. The word of God is the Bible.

The Bible also says that faith is a gift from God. When we lack faith, we can pray asking God to increase our faith. We need to pray,

Lord I know that you are bigger than this problem, and I believe that you will help and guide me. I know that you will make a way for me through this, and I know that when I put my faith in you, nothing is impossible. Amen

Next Sunday, we will continue on in David’s story with our next principle.

Taken from 1 Samuel 17

What should I do when facing a problem? Part 2

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Last week, we examined a problem that existed about 3,000 years ago. The nation of Israel and Philistia were at war. Encamped on two opposite hills, the Philistine army sent out their champion, Goliath to challenge the Israelites to send out someone to fight him. Winner takes all.

Meanwhile, there’s a boy tending sheep in Bethlehem, named David. We met him last time, remember? He is the youngest of eight sons of Jesse, three of which were on the hillside with King Saul.

One day Jesse said to David, “Take this bushel of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers. Give this cheese to their captain and see how the boys are getting along; and bring back news from them.”

So David left the sheep with another shepherd, and took off early the next morning with the gifts. He arrived at the outskirts of the camp just as the Israeli army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. Soon, the Israeli and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army.

David quickly left his things with a baggage officer and hurried out to the ranks to find his brothers. As he was talking with them, he saw Goliath the giant…. step out from the Philistine troops and shout his challenge to the army of Israel. As soon, as they saw him, the Israeli army began to run away in fright.

David over heard some of the soldiers talking, “have you seen the giant? He has insulted the entire army of Israel. And have you heard about the huge reward the king has offered to anyone who kills him? The king has offered one of his daughters for a wife, and his whole family will be exempted from paying taxes!” Now, there’s a reward, “tax exemption” that we can appreciated even in the 21st century!

Then, David spoke to some others to verify what he heard. “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his insults to Israel” he asked. “And, furthermore, who is this heathen Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?”

But when David’s oldest brother heard David talking like that, he was angry. “What are you doing around here, anyway? He demanded. “What about the sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? You little brat! All you wanted to do was to come out here and watch the battle!”

“What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!”

Now, you can empathize with young David. Doesn’t that sound just like a big brother? Indeed, somethings never do change!

          Then, David walked over to some others and asked them the same thing. When people began to realize that David was serious, someone told the king what he said. Then, the king sent for David.

Here’s the First Principle for today: When facing problems, we need to start with a relationship with God.

          Certainly, problems can get our attention and by nature…..encourage us to seek God. Sometimes, we start a relationship with God in the midst of a problem, and that is wonderful place to begin.

          David had a relationship with God prior to coming to that battlefield. He wasn’t frantically looking around for God, in order to get help in this situation. David already had a relationship with Him, and so he is just calmly gathering the facts.

          As a shepherd, David spent plenty of time alone watching and guiding the sheep. He spent many of those hours worshipping God. He became an expert at playing the harp and wrote many worship songs.

          In fact, the book of Psalms in the Bible, is filled with David’s poetry. God was not a stranger to David. So, God was always with him, no matter where he went. Whether… shepherding or on the battlefield, David knew that God was with him.

          That is why David could ask those questions ……That is why David felt insulted by the Philistines who worshiped a pagan diety……because they were insulting God’s army, and therefore, they were insulting David’s God….

          Each of us needs a relationship with God, and we can have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus. Right now, if you have never done so, pray with me and start that relationship today.

Dear Lord,

I want to know you. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. Please forgive my selfishness and pride. Please forgive me for all of the things that I have done that were wrong. I want a relationship with you. Come into my life. I am yours, and I receive your Holy Spirit. Amen

Thank you Jesus…. Thank you Jesus

Next Sunday, we will continue with David’s story and consider the second and third principles.

To read the story in the Bible go to 1 Samuel 17

What should you do when facing a problem? Part 1

 

Have you ever noticed that life seems to have its share of problems? I mean big problems,    little problems, problems of all shapes and sizes. Especially, those little annoying problems….. like getting a flat tire on your way to work….when just a couple of days ago, your boss told you not to be late again! Or, how about one of those little love notes you receive from the bank, informing you that the check you wrote last week has bounced big time!

And, if these problems weren’t enough, consider those really big problems. You know the type that keep you awake at 2 a.m. wondering what you’re going to do, or worst yet dreading the next day. It may concern your job, your house, your family, or your finances. It may be the result of some unwise decision or choice on your part, or it might have just landed in your lap through no fault of your own.

Whatever, the cause, or size, problems are just a part of life. The question is how to deal with them. That’s what I’m going to write about for the next three weeks. I will look at an incident in the life of a boy named David who later became the king of Israel. He lived about 3,000 years ago, and although times may change, the best way to handle problems hasn’t.

The Problem:

Since Israel had settled in the land of Canaan, they had off and on skirmishes with their neighbors. Some of the neighboring people were on the land that the Lord had promised to Israel. And of course, the neighboring nations coveted the land that Israel had too. One of those nations was Philistia.

The Philistines were a formidable enemy. First of all, they had iron weaponry, which Israel did not have. Therefore, Israel was at a definite disadvantage.

 Secondly, the Philistine’s had a champion named Goliath who was nine feet tall. Between his armor, shield, and helmet, he easily carried over three hundred pounds of combat gear, and armed with the dreaded iron-tipped javelin. He was the Israeli soldier’s worst nightmare. Indeed, King Saul of Israel and all his men were frightened.

 The two armies faced each other on opposite hills. Every day, in fact twice a day, Goliath came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel and made a challenge. He demanded for Israel to send out a warrior to fight him, and then the winner would take all.

 Actually, that wasn’t such a bad idea. I’ve heard it suggested that a good alternative to war would be to put the leaders in a ring and let them fight it out. If we did that, we’d probably have world peace. So, it was a fair suggestion, except for the fact that compared to Goliath, Israel didn’t have anyone that could defeat him.

Therefore, for forty days, the armies faced each other…. and for forty days, Israel felt the humiliation for not meeting the challenge. They couldn’t fight the giant, and they couldn’t fight the army with such a powerful opponent. I am sure that the morale of the Israel’s soldiers was at an all time low. ….although, you’d probably find some soldiers who became very religious during those forty days. Some were probably praying, “Please God, don’t sent me out to fight him.” People can become very religious when they face a big problem. And Goliath was a big problem!

 Others may have been in denial of the problem. “If I ignore the situation, maybe it’ll go away.” But really big problems rarely do just go away. Sometimes, you have to face them. And certainly, there may have been some critics there as well. “It’s somebody else’s problem, probably the king’s fault, the system, or something. Anyway, someone else is to blame for the problem, so let them fix it.”

During this stalemate, there is a shepherd boy back in Bethlehem, named David. Soon, he will be right in the middle of this very big problem. When he gets there, David will rely on seven principles to solve this problem. Next week, I will address the first three principles.

On my mind . . . Relationships

“You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words.” Song of Solomon 4:1. With words like that in the Bible, God certainly knows a thing or two about romance.

Last Sunday, my husband Jeff and I stopped by the gas station to get a cup of coffee on our way to church. At the counter, Jeff noticed the cashier’s name tag.

“I like your name,” he said.

It makes a good pick-up line,” said the smiling young man.  “I say…… Hi, I’m Adam, and you look like Eve.”

Now you have to admit, that’s a pretty good line.

This Valentine’s Day, thank God for your Adam or Eve, tell them how special they are to you, and keep God in your relationship, because a three braided cord is not easily broken.

On my mind . . . America

It is tax season once again. I’m still working on ours, which isn’t all that difficult. In former years when I had a small business, it was much more intense. It would take an entire weekend, not to mention the maintenance of mileage logs and the organization of receipts that went on all year-long in preparation.

I remember back about twenty years ago, when at the conclusion of one such weekend, I wrote a light-hearted poem to celebrate that I was finally finished. The poem is based on Matthew 22:15-22.

Then the Pharisees went and counseled together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians sayings, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful, and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.”

And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”

They said to Him, “Caesar’s”

Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

 

Caesar

 

Three times you tax my income.

There’s tax upon the sales.

On every type of license,

The bureaucracy prevails.

 

On everything I own or earn,

I’m taxed upon the tax.

Thank God, I do not own my soul,

Or there’d be tax on that!

                                    D.A. Combs 1994