What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Serving While Suffering

DAY SEVENTEEN: Friday, October 31, 2008

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

"If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world." 1 Corinthians 15:19 (NCV)

Those of us who follow Christ without persecution, suffering or deprivation are basically in the minority when the global Christian population is taken into consideration. Millions serve Jesus all the while knowing that they are risking their liberties and in some cases even their lives.

The same was true for Paul. He suffered many harsh experiences simply because he was wholly dedicated to the spread of the Good News about Jesus. (See 2 Corinthians 11:23-29) That may be part of the reason that he said, "If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world."

One of the things that enabled Paul to endure persecution, hardship and personal sacrifice was the future hope he had of eternal life established by His resurrected Savior, Jesus. He knew that this life was not all there is. And acting on that knowledge was a huge part of what made him god on serving while suffering.

Action step(s) for today:

1) Say "no" to any self-pity for the difficulties you've faced for being a Christ follower who is trying to advance the cause of Jesus.

2) Thank God for the certain hope you have of eternal life in Christ because of your faith commitment to Him.

3) Set aside money for Bibles for children in countries where the Good News about Jesus is outlawed. Give your gift on November 9, "The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our Only Hope of Forgiveness

DAY SIXTEEN: Thursday, October 30, 2008

Read Psalm 130

"I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word." Psalm 130:5 (NLT)

A pastor finished his message early one Sunday, and he wanted to check his congregation's understanding. So he asked, "Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?" There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up, "You have to sin."

The thing the author of the 130th Psalm was counting on God for most was forgiveness. In verses 3 & 4 he sang, "Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you." He knew his only hope of forgiveness was God's promise of mercy - not his own track record of good deeds versus bad deeds.

We too can take God at His word that He will hear our requests for forgiveness. We do not have to punish ourselves to be forgiven, nor do a certain number of good deeds to atone for our bad ones. Forgiveness is based solely and squarely on God's willingness to wipe our slate clean, because of His forgiving nature when we ask for pardon.

Our past sins need not be brought up again, and when Satan does, we can remind ourselves of our certain hope in God's Word that we are forgiven.

Action step for today: If you feel condemned over a sin, write it down on a piece of paper, ask God's forgiveness, then cut the paper into little pieces and throw them away.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You're the Potter, I'm the Clay

DAY FIFTEEN: Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Read Jeremiah 18:1-12

"And they said, 'That is hopeless!' So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart." Jeremiaha 18:12 (NKJV)

The German philosopher and lifelong rebel against Christianity (even though his father was a Lutheran pastor), Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man."

That is precisely what the citizens of ancient Israel were thinking when they refused God's offer to reshaped them like a potter would a marred piece of clay. They would rather "walk according to their own evil plans, and...every one obey the dictates of his evil heart," than place their hope in God.

Why on earth would any of us make the foolish choice of refusing God's generous offer of help, only to walk in our own wisdom and strength alone?

That is what hopelessness does. All strength to trust God and walk according to His good plans for our life is exchanged for hope in our selves alone.

What is the end result when we reject hope in God for our way? For Israel it was national collapse within and without. And Nietsche? He suffered from mental illness the last decade of his life, brought on from syphillis, a sexually transmitted disease.

Action step for today: Offer up any and every part of your self to God, your mind, your emotions, or your body, that has been marred by sin and selfishness, for reshaping into hope by God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Something Better

DAY FOURTEEN: Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Read 1 Thessalonians 1

"...patience of hope..." 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Years ago, growing up, a little boy felt like he had the ugliest bicycle known to man. It was a hand-me-down made from the parts of other bicycles. It was so ugly it didn't even have handlebar grips. He was always complaining that his hands would slip off the slick handlebars. He pestered his dad to buy him some handlebar grips but his dad kept refusing.

One day his dad took him to the Western Auto hardware store. Near the front door there were some new handlebar grips for sale. They were plastic and had long streamers hanging down from the ends. He said, "Daddy, daddy, I've just got to have these handlebar grips! Please daddy!" His dad looked at him and said, "No, son, you don't need those grips. Now come with me to the back of the store."

As he followed his dad he was bitter and frustrated. Under his breath he was muttering, "I never get anything. It's just a lousy three dollars! My dad sure is mean!"

When they got back to the back of the store the owner wheeled out a shiny, brand new bicycle - complete with handlebar grips with plastic streamers. The father said, "Here son, it's an early birthday present. I wouldn't buy you any handlebar grips because I ordered you this new bicycle."

The little boy was ecstatic! As he wheeled his new bike out the front door he never even gave those handlebar grips a glance!

Action step for today: Wait on something better from God.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Hope Chest

DAY THIRTEEN: Monday, October 27, 2008

Read Romans 15:1-6

"Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope." Romans 15:4 (NCV)

The Bible is unique among "holy books;" it is rooted and intertwined with actual human history. As God's Word it reveals the meaning to life and the responsibility of humans to their Creator.

One of the most distinctive qualities of the Bible is that it is a "living book." (Hebrews 4:12) Its truths have penetrated the perplexities of billions of people's lives by offering immense encouragment, producing great hope when its precepts are studied and applied.

In bygone generations a tradition existed of providing a "hope chest." for an adolescent child, especially young ladies, which would gradually be supplied with items that the owner would need upon leaving home an venturing out into adulthood. The treasures in the "hope chest" might include items such as handcrafted items like quilts or linens, family photos, or perhaps even items needed to set up housekeeping like silverware or books.

Although this is an outdated method of the example of storing items for future use when needed, it is reminiscent of the Bible. God has stowed away tremendous treasures in this miraculous book for the needs of our life journey.

Action step for today: Re-read one of your favorite Bible stories or passages that lifts you up, encourages you, and gives you hope.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

DAY TWELVE: Sunday, October 26, 2008

Read Psalm 9.

"The poor and homeless won't always be forgotten and without hope." Psalm 9:18 (CEV)

1. Find and empty shoebox. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required.

2. Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or girl, and the child's age category: 2-4, 5-9, 10-14. Remove the appropriated boy/girl label from a brochure or download off the Samaritan's Purse Web site. Mark the correct age on the label and attach the label to the top of your box.

3. Fill your shoe box with a variety of gifts:

  • School supplies: pens, pencils and sharpener, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, coloring books, chalk, writing pads or paper, etc.
  • Toys: small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, small Etch A Sketch, toys that light up or make noise, etc.
  • Hygiene items: toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap in a plastic bag, comb, washcloth, etc.
  • Candy: hard candy in a plastic bag, lollipos, mints and gum are all acceptable.
  • Other: sunglasses, flashlights with extra batteries, ball caps, socks, T-shirts, toy jewelry, hair clips, watches, small picture books, etc.
  • You may also enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. (If you include your name and address, the child who receives your box may write you back.)

Make sure your shoebox gets turned it to a distribution center by the appropriate time. Enclose a check to Samaritan's Purse for $7.00 to cover shipping and handling.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Your Word is My Only Hope

DAY ELEVEN: Saturday, October 25, 2008

Read: Psalms 119:105-120

"You are my place of safety and my shield. Your word is my only hope. All of you worthless people get away from me! I am determined to obey the commands of my God. Be true to your word LORD. Keep me alive and strong; don't let me be ashamed because of my hope." Psalm 11(;114-116 (CEV)

Six words are used in the 119th Psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, to tell how God's Word brings hope:

LAWS: This reminds us that God's truth must be obeyed.

TEACHINGS: This word conveys the idea that God's Word provides us with insight for every aspect of our lives.

COMMANDS: This word reinforces the concept that God's Word is to be obeyed.

PROMISES: Since God's Word is true, He can be trusted completely to do what He says He will do.

WORD(S): This indicates that God is a communicative God. He speaks to us through His Word(s).

DECISIONS: We make good choices through God's Word.

Our hope in life is directly tied to reading, hearing, memorizing and following God's Word.

Action step for today: Firmly establish a daily time to read, think about and insert God's Word into your life...ten minutes before work, 1/2 an hour before bedtime...whatever works for you, but ingest a daily dose of God's Word if you want to maintain hope in life.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hope for Homeowners

DAY TEN: Friday, October 24, 2008

Read Matthew 6:22-34

"Seek first God's kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well." Matthew 6:33 (NCV)

Traditionally, the government and most lenders consider a homeowner who spends 30% or more of his or her income on housing costs to be financially burdened. But that definition now applies to almost 38% of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage - 19 million of them. Another 7.5 million homeowners spend at least half of their income on housing. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

One of the government's recent efforts to deal with the mortgage crisis bore the name: Hope for Homeowners. While good people disagree on how involved the federal bureaucracy should be in this crisis - one thing we need to remember - God is already involved!

When Christ encouraged us not to worry about our material possessions the reason was clear: God knows and promises to meet the needs of His children. Obviously He doesn't always meet them in the manner and time we dictate. Usually He has something better for us and He leads us on a journey we may not have expected - but one that eventually leads to His ample provision for all of our needs - including our need for housing.

What is the key? Jesus put it succinctly: "Seek first God's kingdom and what God wants. Then all your needs will be met as well."

Action step for today: Put the kingdom of God first in all that you do today, then trust Him to meet your needs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hope Authenticated

DAY NINE: Thursday, October 23, 2008

Read Acts 23:1-11

"Paul realized that some of the members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, 'Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurection of the dead!'" ACts 23:6 (NLT)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal found himself in an embarrassing situation in Beethoven's, an expensive San Francisco restaurant in 1979. Blumenthal was confronted with a sizable dinner bill, and expired VISA card, and a waiter who wanted proof of signature to back up an out-of-town check. Blumenthal thought for a minute, and solved his predicament the only way he knew how: he produced a dollar bill and pointed to his signature, W. M. Blumenthal, in the bottom right-hand corner. The signature matched, and Blumenthal's personal check was accepted.

In Acts 23 Paul stood before two brands of religious hypocrites: 1) The Pharisees, Jewish ritualists of Paul's heritage - people who knew truth but had no personal relationship with God and therefore couldn't share in His love; and 2) Saducees, rationalists who ignored God's truth to follow their own way apart from God. Both groups were far from God and didn't share in the hope that true Christ followers have - the hope of the resurrection of the dead!

We know the hope of eternal in Christ is true because Christ authenticated life after death by His own resurrection! He signed the check by His sacrificial death and then proved it was payment enought for our sin by raising from the dead!

Action step for today: Thank God for the sure and certain hope that Christ followers have of living forever! Ask Him to cleanse you from the bad traits of Pharisees (adding to God's laws) and Saducees (ignoring God's laws.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Keeping Hope Afloat

DAY EIGHT: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Read Hebrews 6:13-20

"So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie." Hebrews 6:18 (NLT)

On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick waded into the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island. Her goal? Swim to the Californian coast. The fog was so thick she could barely see the boats accompanying her. After fifteen hours she gave up, despite her trainer telling her she was close to the coastline. But all she could see was fog, and she quit - only a half-mile from her goal.

Later she said, "I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land, I might have made it." Two months later, on a day with no fog, she did.

When God promised to give Abraham inumerable descendants there was a lot of "fog" in the way of believing God's guarantee. To begin with, Abraham and his wife Sarah didn't have any children. Secondly, they were too old to have kids. Nonetheless, "Abraham waited patiently and he received what God had promised." (Hebrews 6:15)

How did Abraham see through the fog and keep his hope afloat? How could he "see" land? His land was the promise of God. (See also, Hebrews 11:9-10) And since God cannot lie, His Word is as firm as anything in the universe!

Action step for today: Find a promise in the Bible (there are hundreds of them) and memorize it. Pick one that will especially help you to see through whatever fog is tempting you to lose hope.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Source of Hope

DAY SEVEN: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Read Romans 15:7-13

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NLT)

As we come to the end of our first week of 40 Days of Hope we need a solid foundation for further journeying together.

Where does hope originate? Do I wish upon a star? Does positive thinking assure my dreams will come true? Can I work myself into an emotionally frenetic state or go to the other extreme and practice transcendentalism and achieve a level of consciousness where I am one with the universe, thereby filled with hope?


God is the source of hope! In order to experience hope, joy, and inner peace, I must trust in Him.

As we continue our journey of hope we will be looking at various uplifting and courage-inspiring promises from God. When we trust in these promises and believe that God is going to keep His Word our hope gauge reads "full" instead of "empty." We can experience confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit when we trust the Word of God.

No action step today. Your pastor has prayed for you today just as Paul prayed for the Christ followers in Rome. I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quick Route from Hopelessness to Hope

DAY SIX: Monday, October 20, 2008

Read Psalm 39:1-13

"So Lord, what hope do I have? You are my hope." Psalm 39:7

Former heavyweight boxer James (Quick) Tillis was a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980's. Years later, he still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa.

"I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under my arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down and looked up at the Sears Tower and said to myself, "I'm going to conquer Chicago."

"When I looked down, my suitcases were gone."

David was having one of those days when he penned the 39th Psalm. In reference to hard times he asks God, "What hope do I have?" And quickly he answered his own question by declaring to God, "You are my hope!"

The 39th Psalm represents an intense struggle going on inside David's heart. He was transparent with God about how badly he felt about life's disappointments. He was wrestling with the issues we all confront. And he didn't try to bury his feelings.

It's okay for us to be transparent with God and admit that sometimes we struggle with maintaining a sense of hope. Sometimes we face disappointment at the very time we thought we would be experiencing great success and the fulfillment of our dreams. Our emotions tell us to give up. It's then that the quickest route to regaining hope is to go to God.

Action step for today: Tell God what makes you sad.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hope Instead of Fear

DAY FIVE: Sunday, October 19, 2008

Read: Psalm 31

"So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!" Psalm 31:24 (NLT)

David began composing the 31st Psalm as a very stressed out individual. He doesn't say why his stomach is in knots and his mind dizzied, but his emotional torment is very real.

We've all been there, living with uncertainty because our troubles have demoralized us and left us feeling stranded and insecure.

Where do you go when you don't know what to do next; when you've already done all you know to do and it isn't enough?

David begins this Psalm: "Oh Lord, I have come to you..."

By the time David has poured out his heart to God and prayed for God to be vindicated through the resolution of his predicament, he concludes confidently! His problems and dangers have not changed - but his attitude has!

David concludes, "So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!" Psalm 31:24 (NLT)

Trouble is not a time for the Christ follower to cower in fear. It is not a time for us to lose our way and to be overcome by complications and vulnerabilities. It is not a time to worry and yield to feelings of anxiety and woe. Hope in the Lord can actually make this a time of strength and courage!

Action step for today: Pray the 31st Psalm. Actually read and say these words out loud to God from your heart to His.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Account for the Hope That is In You"

DAY FOUR: Saturday, October 18, 2008

Please read 1 Peter 3:8-17

"Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully." 1 Peter 3:15b (Amplified Bible)

Hope is an impossible attitude to hide! Those around you will see your hopeful attitude in the midst of the struggles of life and wonder where it originates. They will look to you for answers about your confident perspective.

Being ready to logically share our hope when someone is wrestling with life's mysteries is a vital part of making others aware of the Good News about Christ. In fact, this is one of the most favorable times that Christ followers can share hope with others.

How do you "account for the hope that is in you?" How did you come to hope in Christ? What factors led you to turn to Christ for the answers to life's inescapable questions?

The answer to these questions will help construct a solid foundation for someone else to have hope in Christ. You have a unique story to tell that will give hope to others.

But you must be ready to share it.

"Always be ready," the Bible says. Are you ready?

Action step for today: Write down the story of how you came to have hope in Christ; practice sharing it; and look for opportunities to share your hope with others as they ask you to "account for the hope that is in you."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Prisoners of Hope

DAY THREE: Friday, October 17, 2008

Please read Zechariah chapter nine before reading the rest of this blog entry.

"Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles." Zechariah 9:12 (NLT)

How could two young, middle class American women in Afghanistan serving the poor, survive imprisonment by the Taliban during the height of tensions after September 11, 2001? Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer have only one explanation: hope! "We believed God could do the impossible." (Page 234, Prisoners of Hope)

In their personal account of the ordeal they describe how God led them to minister to the women and children of one of the poorest nations on earth before they were accused of the crime of sharing their faith in Christ and subsequently imprisoned. Though tempted to despair, they consistently worshipped and hoped in God's Word!

Zechariah chapter nine also speaks about prisoner of hope. The Jews, recently back from Babylonian Captivity, were discouraged that the work of rebuilding God's house wasn't possible given their meager supplies and difficult circumstances. Overcome with feelings of insecurity, they lost hope.

Through Zechariah, God was encouraging them to be prisoners of hope, rather than prisoners of fear, insecurity, self-doubt, and shame.

Action Step for Today: Jot down one big problem that has imprisoned you with feelings of inadequacy:

Now, exchange being a prisoner to inadequacy to being a prisoner of hope by trusting in God's promises to you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Journey to Joy

DAY TWO: Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reading Psalm 85 before reading the rest of this blog entry will drastically enhance the benefit you derive from it.

"Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put aside your anger against us once more. Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations? Won't you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in your? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation." Psalms 85:4-6

Restoration. Revival. Rejoicing. These three themes of the 85th Psalm represent the hope of the people of God after returning from their captivity in Babylon (the subject of yesterday's Scripture reading.)

Our ultimate hope in life should be that our relationship to God is what it ought to be. If this is not our predominant priority during 40 Days of Hope then our focus is blurred and the results of this spiritual journey together will be hollow.

Above everything, we should hope for:

The restoration of our relationship with God to the nearest and dearest that it has ever been.

A revival of interest in spiritual things.

Rejoicing "in God."

Action steps for Today:

1. Take inventory. Ask yourself, "Am I as close to God as I have ever been?"

2. If not, repent and move closer to God. (See James 4:8)

3. Commit to one spiritual activity that you've been neglecting.

When It's Dark Enough - You Can See the Stars

DAY ONE: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Read Jeremiah 29 before reading the rest of this blog entry.

According to the word "hope" means: "The feeling of what is wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best."

That definition is very similar to what God says to us in His Word.

"I know what I am planning for you," says the Lord. "I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NCV)

Jeremiah, and more specifically, God, wanted His people to know that their current situation of hardship would get better as they grew in their reliance upon Him. God had a good future planned for His people.

If you are God's child you may rest assured that God has good plans mapped out for you no matter what unfavorable circumstances you currently face. You may live expectantly rather than being depressed, angry, anxious, or disappointed.

However, there is something that God asks of you, while you are waiting for the things you hope for to come true."

" good things for the city where I sent you... Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also." Jeremiah 29:7 (NCV)

Instead of doubting, complaining, or rebelling, God tells us to: 1) Do good things, and 2) Pray for the city in which we reside.

Action Step for 40 Days of Hope: (Note: the remainder of the Action Steps in this journey will be daily in scope. These first two action steps are things to do throughout the entire 40 Days campaign as the opportunity arises.)

1) Pray for the city where you are living, as God commanded His people in Jeremiah's day.

2) Share hope with someone else by doing good things as God commanded His people in Jeremiah's day.


1) Provide food for a hungry person. (They may be hungry for friendship, not just food.) (See Luke 14:13; Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9)

2) Supply something for someone going on a trip. (See Ezra 1:6)

3) Give something away to someone who needs it - especially something you have more than enough of. (See Leviticus 19:9-10)

4) Make a donation to a charity that cares for orphans, or better yet, get directly involved in the life of an orphaned child you know personally. (See Psalms 82:3)

5) Help an elderly widow who doesn't have family to care for her needs. (See Job 29:16; 1 Timothy 5:3-16)

6) Provide assistance to someone who has been victimized, or has become disabled. (See Luke 10:30-37)

7) If any need in someone else's life comes to your attention and you are able to help with it - just do it. (See 1 John 3:17)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

40 Days of Hope Begins Oct. 15

For the next forty days, beginning tomorrow, I will be blogging the daily entries of the current Spiritual Growth Campaign among our church family. I have written forty entries on the theme of hope in order to emphasize what the Bible teaches on the topic so that we may apply it to our lives. Everyone in our church family will be "on the same page" for forty days.

The number 40 has a high profile in Scripture. The early Christ followers awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit for 40 days until Pentecost. It rained for 40 days and nights in the days of Noah. Moses was on the mount for 40 days, the spies spent 40 days in Canaan, Jesus was tempted by Satan after 40 days of prayer and fasting, etc.

It seems that God has used this amount of time to incorporate important change in the lives of His people. Consequently our church family is once again going to take this period of time to ask God to help us make positive changes in our midst. In this case we are seeking to grow in hope. Amidst the pessimism and defeatism of our culture Christ followers need to exemplify the confidence that comes from relying upon God's promises! Hope is sorely needed not only in our lives but also in the environment around us.

During His earthly ministry Jesus changed people's lives by offering hope - we want to do the same. No one has more reason to hope than those who are firmly placing their trust in God!

If you care to join us please check back daily for the next 40 days - especially if you or someone you know could use an influx of hope in his or her life. Each day this blog will recommend a passage of Scripture to read. Reading that passage BEFORE reading the day's blog entry will magnify the hope experience greatly.

After reading the recommended Scripture there will be a few brief paragraphs on a selected perspective on hope. Finally there will be an ACTION STEP for the participant to take. By accepting this ACTION STEP challenge the 40 Days of Hope participant will become a "doer of the Word" and not just a reader. (James 1:23) You will experience much more hope by doing than just by reading or hearing alone.

At any day during the 40 Days of Hope campaign I would love to hear from you about what God is doing in your life, either by leaving a comment on this blog, or by emailing me at