How Do You Need to be Spoken To?

1 Corinthians 3:1    And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ

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I have always found it funny to watch adults speak with babies and children. I have watched powerful men of ministry and merchandise get on hands and knees, sit on the floor, and say the silliest sounds to little children. Images of hearing these men from the pulpit and watching these men in their industry indicate they are no-nonsense individuals. Yet the moment you see them cooing and babbling with the infant at the baby’s level, you recognize though they could communicate with great oratory and official tones, they are communicating at the level the hearer understands.

Paul too, wanted to communicate to the church in spiritual tones but could not because they were carnal. He found them even as spiritual babes. Many a church has adults who are chronologically grown up, but spiritually infants because of carnality. Paul spoke to them at their growth level.  

They were adults by age but they were infants by their attitudes and actions. They had attitudes that were carnal and their actions were infantile. Verse three defines their carnality. Amongst them were envying, strife, and divisions among them. These were the indicators of their spiritual growth. 

Many church members today need to be spoke to as babes because of their carnal and infant ways. Are you prone to envy of another believer’s accomplishments, abilities, and associations? Are you given to struggling with fellow believers over prestige, possessions, and preferences? Do your words, works, and walk as a believer unite or divide people’s allegiances and associations? 

If you answered, “yes” to any of the above questions, let me speak “baby talk” to you for a moment, “Grow Up!” Do you have the tendency to lean toward carnal behavior? “Grow Up!” We have enough carnal believers and babes in our churches today. Lay aside these things and “Grow Up!”

Give it your B. E. S. T.

1 Corinthians 4:12–13    ...being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat:

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I love staying at a certain chain of hotels. They have a promotion with their employees called, “Catch Me at my Best.” Guests are encouraged to “catch” employees at their best and notify management, by way of a card, so that employee may be commended and rewarded.

Because I travel much, I have many opportunities to witness people at their worst and best. As well as I have many opportunities to catch me at my best and worst. 

As a believer, we have many opportunities for the world to catch us at our best. You know these type of moments of observation come unannounced. Believers and unbelievers watch us often when we are unaware. How are you doing when they do come?

Paul gave advice to the church at Corinth and told them how to be caught at their best.

When people revile you, bless them.
When people persecute you, suffer it.
When people defame you, entreat them.

So, at all times we are to B-less, E-ntreat, S-uffer and T-rust God. How many times this year have you been caught at your best? The last time you were faced with adversity, did you bless the person, entreat him (chose to respect), and just suffered it, all while trusting the Lord?

I hope you catch me at my B E S T.

I Can Pray

Romans 15:30-33 

A dear friend of mine, Danny Whetstone, spoke from Romans 15:30-33 on how we as Believers can “strive together.” The last point of his positive message spoke of striving together in prayer. His message referenced how Paul asked the church at Rome to pray for him. 

Paul requested prayer of the church in three areas. He requested prayer for three things. These should be a help to us when we pray for our missionaries.

1. Protect my missionaries. 15:31a

2. Provide opportunities for my missionaries. 15:31b

3. Prosper my missionaries. 15:32

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Confidence in the Plan and Purpose of God

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Romans 8:28    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.    

What must have Paul thought as the Holy Spirit laid upon his heart these words to write as he penned our devotional verse for today? Notice his confidence in the plan of God. Note also his confidence in the  purpose  of God. Yet what clear understanding must have been in his heart when he reflected on the day when Stephen was stoned. Though the event made him sorrowful, the verse reveals his contentment and confidence in the purpose and plan of God.  

Stephen was the early church’s deacon and disputer of the enemies of Christ. Yet the day he was stoned for his preaching, an unconverted Saul was watcher of the coats of the stoners. (Acts 7:58) The first verse of the next chapter says he was a willing watcher of his death. 

Yet what good in the plan and purpose of God could come in the death of Stephen? Stephen loved God. Truly, he was a man called according to God’s purpose. Yet in his death, God’s plan made a new defender of the faith: the man whom we call the apostle Paul.  

Faithful servant and lover of God, your difficulty today is in the purpose and plan of God. Never allow life’s circumstances and conditions shake your faith in the purpose and plan of God. Know this: God has a purpose and plan that He is working even in deaths, disasters, and disappointments.   

Are Your Words, Your Words?

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1 Corinthians 2:4-5    And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

The question to the average person may seem silly, but for the child of God called upon to communicate the gospel and doctrine, this question is paramount. Our passage indicates Paul’s inspired testimony to the Corinthians. This testimony certainly establishes an implied and desired goal for every soul winner, preacher, and teacher.

Each time I stand to preach, I must evaluate if what I am going to say is merely enticing words full of man’s wisdom or will I be preaching in demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power? Oh, yes, it is a temptation to offer human wisdom to fix, adjust, or steer a congregation. However, if I speak out of human wisdom, what have I done but placed their faith in my wisdom and not the power of God. 

Consider yourself today. God has placed you in a position to communicate His great love and righteousness. When you communicate, are you doing so by His power and His Holy Spirit? The great danger in attempting to do His work any other way will produce a people who follow what you say and not His word!

Our power is no replacement for Holy Power. 

Our principles are not a substitute for His principles.

Our wisdom is not a substitute for His wisdom.

Our work is not a substitute for His work.

Our intellect is no replacement for His inspiration.


A Faith Walker

2 Corinthians 5:7   For we walk by faith, not by sight 

From the moment we are taught to walk, we are told, “watch where you’re walking.” We hear, “look both ways,” along with a myriad of other statements. These phrases all establish you should not venture out unless you can see what’s ahead. 

However, the Word of God gives polar opposite instructions. “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” The believer walks by what God says will be there. That is the condition of being a faith-walker. 

Remember, God’s ways and thoughts are above man’s ways and thoughts. When you can’t see the steps in front of you, don’t revert to human nature. Cling to the Word of God. We walk by faith, not sight.

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Good Men to Do Nothing

"All that is necessary for the forces of evil to succeed or triumph is for enough good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

Psalm 15 

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I was summoned for jury service recently. This was my first time to be summoned where I did not have to defer. I appeared with an eclectic and diverse group of individuals in my county in NC. 

I was amazed at the process and impressed with the responsibility of fulfilling this constitutionally appointed task. I realized something a friend said to me about this process. He said that, when considering the collection of people who could sit in judgment of me for a crime, I would hope reasonable and normal people would make the effort to serve. After this experience, I agree.

The selection and querying process was interesting. The accused was seated in the room as prospective jurors were asked questions. The accused's presence certainly added to the weight of this duty. As we neared the end of the first day, the judge gave somber instructions about listening only to the facts presented in the courtroom. It was then in open court, I spoke up.

Earlier an event occurred in the jury holding room. It was well before we were even going to head in to see if we would be selected. The jury handler made a comment to help us know what was upcoming. She mentioned the type case we would get and that the accused was a repeat offender with 3-4 previous charges. She intimated it would not be a long case.

Her statement was unfair to the accused; it prejudiced minds about the individual. I knew I could not keep silent. So I spoke up in court as the judge gave these somber instructions. I asked the judge if what we heard from his staff about the case prior to our arrival in the court room should have bearing. Obviously, it did.

The judge dismissed the jury pool and called me into the court room again to give answer his questions. The next day, he released all the jurors.

The next day, when I arrived, I met with the judge again and then later again with the jurors in our pool. He dismissed us with gratitude. He explained the process must always be fair to both sides. He personally expressed gratitude for my courage to stand up for the sake of justice. The accused will have his day in court. He will be given an opportunity to defend himself before an untainted jury. Justice will be served that day, as it was this day.

A college professor in that room told me on the way out, "Sir, all of us heard what you heard, only you had the courage to stand up and say something. Thank you for your courage.”

I realized the significance of a quote, attributed to Edmund Burke (18th century British statesman), "All that is necessary for the forces of evil to succeed/triumph is for enough good men to do nothing." I am glad that I said something in that courtroom.

If you have an opportunity to serve, do so. Do it with vigor and vigilance. It is an honor.

Parroting the Ignorant

Psalm 73:17   Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

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Social media is replete with statements of that God allows shootings to happen because prayer was judicially removed from schools forty years ago. Don't be guilty of speaking without thinking. Yes, society's eviction of God and its pursuit of secularism does create a vivid contrast compared to a society that once honored God. But did the shootings in America's malls, schools, streets, and churches happen because prayer was banished? Of course, not!

A shooting in America, whether en masse or singularly, represents a heart problem, not a handgun problem. Consider, Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

Our world has dealt with murders since the killing of Abel by his own brother. These brothers were reared in a Godly family with home education. The parents grieved over the loss of their son. But no legislative act prevented the murderous action of Cain, a man depraved. Man is desperately wicked.

If I were grieving the loss of my son today from such a tragedy, I would not want to hear people making my grief a platform for their pet issue  (prayer in school, Christ in Christmas, or tougher federal laws on gun control). I would want to know I had friends and family who could remind me of God's promises. I would want a nation who mourned with me. I would want a Pastor who'd stand in the pulpit today and remind me that God is in control.

A Cast-Down Believer?

Psalm 42:6   O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore, will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.   

Have you ever seen a person in the throes of despair? His back is slumped. His shoulders are heavy. His eyes seem to be focused on a distant object in another world. His head is held up only by his hands which seem to be powerless. Truly this is the picture of a person who is cast down. Yet should this ever be the picture of a believer?   

In our focal verse, the Psalmist speaks of a soul of a believer that is like the one described above. It seems oxymoronic; a believer, cast down. Yet this is the state that describes many a believer today.    

The Psalmist could not rationalize why his soul would be cast down since he was a child of God. He turned to God and forced himself to remember times three times when God's power was clearly manifested in his life. He identified them for us by naming the places. He lists the land of Jordan, the land of the Hermonites and the hill Mizar. 

These places are where David experienced God's power, protection, and provision. These were the times where David experienced God's riches, rewards, and righteousness. These were situations where David experienced God's grace, goodness, and gifts.    

Is your soul cast down? Why?   

He Will Perfect Me

Psalms 138:8   The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth forever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

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If you know me personally, you know I love to cook meals, grill meat, and eat good food. 

When I grill, I know that the preparation of the meat (dry rub, never wet marinade), the arrangement of the coals, the placement of the meat on the grill and the turning of the meat is critical for pleasing the eaters at the table.  These elements are also critical for the satisfaction of the chef in a job done well. 

I will season the meat hours before its grilling and serving. I will prepare the wood for grilling. I will light the wood at the right time. I will turn and move the meat on the grill based on its thickness, composition, and the eater’s preference.

In grilling (Using a gas grill is not grilling; charcoal is grilling; I digress), the meat needs to be moved to the cool spot on the grill. Or, if I am using the second grill, I put it on the other grill for a different temperature range. When I believe it’s nearly done, I will pull the meat off the grill. I know the meat will finish cooking, even when it’s off the heat, to the eater’s desired preference as we wait to serve it. 

If the meat were personified, it might say, “The chef is not using me right now. You see he put me on another grill.”  Or it might say, “He’s got me set aside on this serving plate, but I am not being used. I wish he would hurry up; I’m tired of waiting.” 

Whether finishing in the cool spot on another grill or resting on a plate before it’s ready to be used, the chef knows how the meat will be used. He knows what it needs to be doing now for a perfection later. He knows when it is right to move it, turn it, pull it, and place it in a resting place. He will place the meat into service when he is ready.

The Psalmist wrote about a similar thing. God, the Master Chef, knows how we will be used. He knows where will be used. He is aware of the places we need to be in the process for Him to get the most glory out of us. Sometimes, He places us over the heat directly. Sometimes, He uses indirect heat. Other times, He places us on another grill for a different purpose. Yet sometimes before the actual serving, He puts on a resting plate. He does this to allow for the final cooking. He knows when to pull the foil off us for that prepared place of service He’s designed to have maximum efficiency and glory. 

If you are cooling, resting, or waiting to be placed into service, know this: He will finish the work He began. He will not forsake the work of His hands. He is merciful.

Don’t worry; enjoy this place of rest. Don’t pine for a place of service before His time. He knows where you are. He knows what He needs you to be. He knows when you need to be there. He will perfect that which concerns you. He desires to get maximum glory. He won’t forsake you.




Fat, Dull, and Closed

Matthew 13:11-15

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When questioned by the disciples about His use of parables, Jesus replied that there were three issues affecting mankind’s ability to grasp Him. He identified a problem not just in His time. He did it by quoting a message by Isaiah generations earlier. This moment of teaching lends valuable insight to modern problems on Planet Earth.

The average believer today has the same failure to grasp Christ. Yes, we have hearts, but we have over-indulged in self and have become fat. True, we have ears, but we have allowed God’s Spirit and Word to be ambient noise we tune out so we can hear what we want. Certainly, we have eyes, but they are closed to seeing anything but our preferred mirrors that we select because of their ability to make us look good.

In this season of over-indulgence, let’s pause and examine our hearts, ears, and eyes. Have these portals to the soul become fat, dull, and closed? May we slim down, sharpen up, and see around us what He would have us to learn. It would be a shame today if we missed His lesson for us today because of being fat, dull, and closed.

Follow the Leader

Luke 9:57   And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.    

Childhood memories fade from us rather too quickly. However, most can remember playing the game “Follow the Leader.” Oh, the simplicity of the moment when the leader moved in one direction and the “followers” would move in the same direction.  

“Follow the Leader” should truly be the way we conduct God’s work today. God leads through His word and we should follow. 

However, many “would be followers” have reasons they will not follow.  Three men said, when faced with the opportunity to serve the Lord, “I would follow…but.” One was consumed with his daily needs. Another was burdened with family concerns. The third was prone to delay to avoid possible regrets.   

Jesus knew the things holding each of them back from following Him. He said to the three that there would be no rest, no returns, and no regrets. Many today feel justified by saying, “I just want to make sure I have taken care of what is important to me.” Some have even said, “I have wants, too!” Oh, the selfishness that has crept in God’s churches and workers today!  

What is your reply to His gentle bidding? Is it a response of an unconditional yes? If it is not then you have a heart problem. You can remain unfit for His service or you can rest in His faithfulness and step out and serve.   

Misfits...Unfit for Service

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Luke 9:62    And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Unfit seems to be such a strong word, especially in an age of tolerance and making everyone feel welcome under the tent of compassion. The military can say a person is unfit for duty. An employer can say someone is unfit for a job because of skills. Even teachers are permitted to say, in order to keep status quo, a student is unfit for the general classroom.   

When Christ was speaking to men who were struggling between selfishness and selflessness. Knowing this Christ declared them as unfit! They were unfit for duty not because of skills, ability, or learning, but rather because of selfishness. Many would say “Oh, but in church everybody should be made to feel a part and welcome.” or “Everybody should be given an equal opportunity and the occasion to start fresh!” It is as if they expect the house of God to tolerate spiritual misfits.   

Jesus declared that if a man starts out to serve and looks back from that plow of service, he is unfit! There is no wiggle room for those who seek to cover their sin. There is no way around what Jesus said. A tragedy today is in our Sunday School classes, choirs, and pulpits: we have spiritual misfits.    

The clarion call must be sounded to rid the roles of church leadership of misfits. If someone can be unfit for the kingdom of God, why should they be tolerated to teach, preach or sing in church?    

Are you fit? 


A Head Lifter  

Luke 21:28   And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

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In the current economic and political climate, it would be easy to focus on all that is being said in the news and in our communities. However, as a believer, we should consider not what is being said. Rather, we should consider what was said. Jesus said no matter the news, I am to be one who lifts my head. 

In other words, I am to be a head lifter. When troubles come, when anxiety rises, when resources become scarce, lift up your head. 

Lifting our head is a choice and a challenge. It begins with the choice to look up with our eyes, and then, to lift up our head. The challenge is to keep our head lifted in spite of the matters of confusion around us.

Spiritually, in what position is your head and eyes? Oh, let us be the example setters and become the head-lifters He expects us to be.

I Know Him

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I once stood on the banks of the Jordan river where Jesus was said to have been baptized. Thousands of people stood in line as it was a celebration for the Orthodox church. As they milled about, I could tell many were there for a ceremony, but did not know Him

Recently, at church, a visiting missionary sang the song, “I Know Him.” I was well reminded of the moment by the Jordan river.  Thousands knew about Him. Yet I know Him; and, best of all, He knows me.

The words of the song have echoed in my heart this morning as its chorus ends with “...but best of all He knows me.” No matter how far away or near to home I am, the best thing is Jesus knows me.

A Hungry King, Mindful Priest, and a Proud Spy

A hungry king, mindful priest, and a proud spy met in Nob. The meeting was not by chance; it was a meeting of divine appointment. 

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The King’s name was David. The priest’s name was Ahimelech. The spy’s name was Doeg.

David arrived at Nob, while Ahimelech and Doeg were already there. 

Doeg was allied with David’s father in law, Saul. Saul wanted David dead.  Saul lived without the touch of God on his life. David and Ahimelech were allied to God.

Doeg, the spy, is watched as Ahimelech gave David bread and the sword of Goliath. Doeg will carry this report to Saul. Saul will Ahimelech. Saul will authorize the slaughter of Ahimelech and eighty-five priests by the hand of Doeg. 

This was a divine appointment with a tragic ending. David will later write Doeg: “Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; But trusted in the abundance of his riches, And strengthened himself in his wickedness.” Psalm 52:7 

David said Doeg chose to live in his strength, trust in his resources, and follow the ways of wickedness. 

What a condemnation! What a great failure!

But, what about me? What about you? What about when we are in sync with the actions of Doeg while spiritually presenting ourselves as otherwise?

God help me when I choose to live in my strength, trust in my resources, and follow the paths of the wicked.

May your prayer be: God help me to make you my strength, trust in your resources, and follow the paths of righteousness.

Lessons from a Hummingbird

I took this picture through our dining room window. 

I know nothing about hummingbirds. So, when these tiny creatures hover, perch, and sip nectar it makes me smile. 

I smile because my mom put out a feeder to feed the hummingbirds. She fills their nectar jar. She watches for them to come. She reports about their activities to me when I come home. The birds do not see my Mom, they just know their needs will be met. 

What do hummingbirds know? They know they can count on my Mom making sure they have a place to perch, nectar to sip, and a safe place to hover. 

Do Hummingbirds worry? Their Creator knows them, cares for them, and provides for them, why would they fear? 

Hummingbirds do not have to worry about these matters. Their Heavenly Father Who watches for their cousins, the sparrows, watches over the hummingbirds too!

What are you worried about? Your Heavenly Father can manage your life and His church. Your Heavenly Father Who deposes the wicked and heals the wounded will help you. Genesis 18:25 assures the reader, the Judge of the whole earth will do what is right. 

I asked above, "What do hummingbirds know?" Now I ask, what do you know? 

Do you know God loves you? Do you believe He provides for you? Do you see He provides your nectar? He gives you a place to rest. Your Heavenly Father has a plan which includes you. He knows where you are and what you need. 

The next time your world explodes around you and you begin to fear, remember your Heavenly Father made you so you can hover near his nectar, perch on Him, and trust His plan for your safety.

Snap Judgments

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1 Samuel 16:7   But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

I saw this truck puttering along on the Interstate. The truck’s character intrigued me. This model represents over 30 years of journeys.  Thirty years of hauling, helping, and handling chores. Has the truck had just one owner? Is the owner frugal or just emotionally attached to the vehicle? Is the paint original paint? How many miles are on the truck? What of the contents in the bed of the truck? What does the inside of the cab look like?

An exterior of anything can be deceiving to the casual observer. We are quick to make snap judgments. Remember in the selection of David, it was not his outward appearance God sought. Rather, it was his heart God saw first.

The assessment of the outward circumstances and conditions do not always demonstrate the true picture with trucks or people. May our judgments be righteous. 

John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”


Going to Prayer Meeting

Acts 3:1-6  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Peter and John, two-thirds of the Lord’s inner circle, are prayer partners on this day in the third chapter of Acts. They were “together…at the hour of prayer” Prayer by yourself is mandatory for growth, but such sweet times come, when together as partners in prayer, we walk together into the throne room of grace to bow before a thrice-holy God to present praises, seek pardon, and submit our faith-filled petitions.   

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However, in the hastening to be at the service (for it began at the ninth hour) they encountered a man who was used to asking petitions of men. However, this day he would see that sitting and petitioning men brings only silver and gold. In just a few minutes, he would see that he too would join the partners in prayer to walk with them into the throne room of God.   

Peter and John saw the man not as a distraction on the way to prayer meeting, but rather as someone who needed to know the power of God in his life. They ministered to him and then brought him with them. The three were never the same again.  

On your next trip to the house of God maybe those  distractions  are opportunities for ministry to bring someone with you.   

Do Others Hear More of Me or the Master?

Acts 4:8    Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,    

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Peter had just spent the night in prison. Yet a night in prison did not enrage him, as it would have before. All night in prison, my, how his thoughts could have rehearsed what he wanted to tell them. “Tear them up… Condemn them… Curse them…” No, this man had learned the lesson of all lessons in his renewed walk with the Lord. Namely, Spirit-filled words always convict the minds and hearts of man.    

Peter, once a mouthpiece of Self and Pride, now stands as a mouthpiece of the Master. Just weeks before this, he had said that he had nothing to do with Jesus. Now, having experienced a renewed relationship, he has an opportunity to stand before people and tell them of the One of Whom he preached and taught. He could tell them of Whose power it was that he healed the impotent man. He was a Spirit-filled mouthpiece.   

My concern after reading this verse is this: how often are my words after a trial filled with more of ME than the MASTER?