Love One Another - Jesus
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Follow Jesus by Serving Others
"-- How do we follow Jesus by the way we serve? Because when we serve, it makes Jesus more real. The places that Jesus has been the most real to me in my Christian life have been the places where I have served. Something about serving just gives me spiritual energy. I think it`s because it makes him real, it makes him tangible, and it makes him physical. The other three Hs are less visible. Head is about what we think; heart is about what we feel; habits are what we do to connect with Jesus. Serving with our hands takes what we know, feel, and experience about Jesus and translates it into action that is tangible to us and to other people around us. The scripture we read says to be doers of the word and not just hearers. Otherwise, it`s like a man who looks in a mirror and forgets what he looks like when he walks away ''which I would find a blessing''. Faith without works is dead. Now, that doesn`t mean that in order to get right with God we have to do a lot of good works to get into heaven. That would contradict the whole New Testament. What it does mean though is that faith, real relationship with Jesus, will result in some tangible deeds in the world, or it`s not alive. If we don`t act on what we believe, then how strong is our belief?

-- But it goes even deeper than that, because if faith without works is dead, what killed it was probably the lack of works. If we don`t exercise our relationship with Jesus, if we don`t exercise our faith, it dies. When I did student ministry I used to take students on retreats a couple of times a year. I`d get these great speakers to come in, we`d have great music, and I`d feed them with lots of chocolate because nothing makes you feel spiritual like chocolate. We`d build a campfire, we`d sing, we`d share until everyone was saying things like, "I love you man, " and "this is the best retreat ever." We`d register a full 10 on the Kumbah-yah-meter. Everyone would come back all super charged-up spiritually, but as soon as we hit Bay area traffic, poof, it was gone. At the retreat we had a lot of good head knowledge, we had a lot of heart connection, we had a lot of good spiritual habits, but it all evaporated unless we did something with what we learned, felt, and experienced. That`s why following Jesus with our hands by serving is so important, because it is as we serve that Jesus becomes tangible, real, physical. In two ways:

1'' When we follow Jesus with our hands by serving, Jesus becomes more real to the people around us. 7 out of 10 Americans think that Christianity is irrelevant, and I think the reason they think that is because they`ve heard us Christians talk about it, but they haven`t really seen us do anything about it. We haven`t lived it out, we haven`t served them as Jesus would. In our post-modern culture, that isn`t going to show anybody Jesus. Words are very suspect these days. We`ve seen politicians and the media spin the truth, and pastors have turned out to be hypocrites. Only action convinces in our culture. As it says in the passage we read today, if someone is in need, and we say, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat your fill, " but don`t supply their bodily needs, what good is that? That`s why it says: let us love not in word or in speech, but in truth, and in action. I read a study by some sociologists a couple of years ago who say that we are now living in what they call an "experience economy." As an example of this trend they used the development of what has happened to birthday parties in our culture. It used to be when you had a birthday you knew that your mom loved you if she got some flour and eggs and baked you a cake. They called that a "goods economy." In the 70s you knew your mom loved you because she went out and bought Betty Crocker and made you a cake. That was called a "convenience economy." But then in the 90s, what happened to kids` birthdays? You started to go to a place, a very special place, called Chuckie Cheese`s, and it was no longer a birthday party, it was a birthday experience. And it`s just getting worse. My five-year-old went to a birthday party a couple weeks ago. They went to this place with inflatable slides and bouncy things, and now all she can talk about is, "when it`s my birthday, I want to go to the inflatable bouncy place." We live in a culture of experiences: concerts, movies, Super Bowl, Las Vegas, you name it. In such a culture, the only way people are really going to know who Jesus is is if they have an experience of him through how we serve them - how we are Jesus with skin on for them. The author Reggie McNeal tells a story about his wife who went with a group of other Christians after 9/11 to clean out apartments that were near the World Trade Center. These apartments had their windows blown out, everything was covered with debris, and people were paying thousands of dollars to have them cleaned professionally; this group of Christians did it for free. Wherever they went they were asked three questions: "Who are you?" "What are you doing?" "Why are you doing it?" By the time they had answered the first two questions, they could have said anything in response to the "Why are you doing it" question and people would have listened, because they believed something so strongly that it caused them to inconvenience themselves to
serve others. So whenever they were asked, they were able to say, "we`re doing this in response to who Jesus is." When we follow Jesus with our hands by serving it makes him more real to those around us.

But it`s more than that.

2'' In my experience, when I follow Jesus with my hands by serving, it also makes him more real to me, and I believe it will do so for you as well. The things we do physically, in our bodies, are more real to us than the things we just think in our heads or feel in our hearts. It`s like riding a bike or driving a stick shift or golf, you can read about it all you want, but until you do those things physically, they don`t seem real to you, they`re just ideas. But once you do them physically they seem real ''except for golf, which just becomes real frustrating''. Once you do it, you never forget how, it becomes a part of you, and it becomes real. My wife has not ice skated in years. This winter she decided to slap on a pair of skates and hit the ice. She remembered how to do it because it was a part of who she is, and because she did it, it was an action. It`s the same with our faith. We can have all the head knowledge about Jesus in the world, we can have a great heart connection to Jesus, our spiritual habits can be fantastic, and those three Hs are important; but if it doesn`t get to our hands, if we don`t act on it, it will never be real to us, and it will never seem real. It would be as if we wanted to form a bike-riding club, but then all we did was say, "Well let`s see, first we need a committee to study it, maybe a few seminars to learn how people ride bikes in other churches, and maybe fly in a guest preacher who has ridden a bike before, preferably in Africa." Then, as a pastor, I would stand up and I would say something like, "Now, we`re not all called to actually ride a bike, it`s really more a metaphor for all forms of vehicular transportation." No!!! Nike got it right: Just do it. And when you do, bike-riding becomes more than a theory or an idea, it becomes real. As a matter of fact, it becomes fun. Doing makes it more real. It`s when we love others with Christ`s love that we begin to experience it as real in our hearts.

-- Because, you see, that`s who Jesus is. He`s a servant, God himself, who came in human form, who came to serve us. He taught us, he loved us, at one point he even washed his disciples feet. He died for us to show us how much he loves us, because he wants to be in a relationship with us. That`s who he is. He doesn`t stay in up there in an air-conditioned heaven; he came down here to serve us so we could know him, so we could be in relationship with him. That`s what he wants. No matter how contagious we are, and we all have the disease called sin, no matter how rich or poor, bad or good, sinful or sinless, anything that we might be, that`s who Jesus is. And when we serve we show that to ourselves and to the world around us. The foundational doctrine of Christianity is the incarnation, God himself became human. The New Testament says, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was God, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us." Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it, "The word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood." For centuries God had been talking to his people in the Old Testament, talking to them over and over again, but they just kept running away from him. you see, words, even God`s words, don`t mean much unless they become flesh. That`s what service does; it takes our words and beliefs and makes them flesh.

By: Scott Dudley
Category: Love One Another - Jesus
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Jesus Calls Us to Serve One Another

"-- Jesus says this crazy thing: All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted, and whoever wishes to be great among you must become a servant. In other words, up is down, and down is up. If we try to climb the ladder and achieve, we are going to end up at the bottom. But if we become a servant and put ourselves down on the bottom first, then we will be exalted. It is another one of these paradoxes that is a part of living in Jesus` upside down kingdom. But how can that be? How can up be down and down be up?

-- Let`s take the first part. All who exalt themselves will be humbled. Let`s take the first part. All who exalt themselves will be humbled. If you think about it, that is true. What do we get for all our efforts to get to the top, to achieve and succeed? Well for starters, we get a lot of stress. Recently I read about parents in Manhattan who as soon as they get pregnant, put their unborn child on a waiting list to get into one of the finest preschools in the city, so that then the kid will have a leg up on getting into one of the best kindergartens, and elementary schools, and high schools, and Harvard. And so that the kid can grow up to be a neurotic, overworked stress-case, because it was such a good experience for their parents, right? We get stress. Then even when we do achieve and succeed the thrill never lasts. We all know the feeling of getting the promotion, or the best car on the block, or the bigger house - it doesn`t last; it wears out. Even our biggest achievements are very quickly forgotten. I was talking to some friends who work in the world of finance this week, and they said that every January 1st all of their performance records are wiped clean. They start at zero every year. It doesn`t matter what they did the year before, every January 1st they all start at zero. It`s a "what have you done for me lately" world. Even our best achievements are very quickly forgotten, if not by us, by everyone else. As I was starting my career in ministry, I had an older pastor say to me, "Scott, there will be four stages in your career. The first stage will be people asking, `Who is Scott Dudley?` The second stage, people will say, `Get me Scott Dudley.` In the third stage, they`re going to say, `Get me a young Scott Dudley.` And the fourth stage, `Who is Scott Dudley?`" That`s what it all comes down to folks - no matter what we achieve, it doesn`t last, it gets forgotten. And even when we do achieve something, ever notice how folks aren`t nearly as impressed with us as we think they ought to be.

I think this means we do two things in life. To move up by moving down means:

1) We do our best at what God has given us to do, and let God take care of our status and reputation. You see, Jesus isn`t saying in these passages that we should not strive for excellence, that we should not do our best. That`s not what Jesus is saying. There is nothing wrong with achievement, and there is nothing wrong with being exalted - if God is the one exalting you, pushing you up. That`s the point of the story that Jesus tells about the dinner party, where Jesus says don`t take the best seat, take the lowest seat. Then if the host moves you up, that`s great. It`s not wrong to sit in the seat of honor, it`s wrong to grab for it. If God assigns it to you, though, take it. So here`s what we do. In business " you make the best products you can make, and you always try to make it better, and if you end up at the top of the market, great. If you don`t, that`s not your call, it is God`s call; don`t worry about it. In your career " you concentrate on being the best teacher, or manager, or lawyer, or student, whatever you are, and you are always trying to improve, and if that lands you in the corner office with the view, awesome. If not, that`s God`s call, don`t worry about it. We do our best at what God has given us to do, and let him worry about our
reputation and our status.

The second way that we move up by moving down is we become servants.

2) We serve others. Servant here doesn`t mean being a groveling, trample-on person. It means caring for other and helping them become all God created them to be. We can do this in several easy ways. One is just to pay attention to other people, and really listen to them. I don`t know about you, but I can get in my own little world and not even notice others. I do that here sometimes; I really do it at home. I will come back from work and start reading a magazine or something, and I`ll hear this sort of sound in the background, but I don`t quite tune in. But gradually, I begin to tune in and pick out what the sound is, and it`s my wife saying, "Are you listening to me? You`re not paying attention, are you?" I always say, "Oh, yes, I`m listening, yes I am - I`m just multi-tasking." To serve someone means we pay attention to them, and we listen carefully to what they are saying and to listen with patience. As a friend of mine says, when his wife comes to him and says, "I have something I`d like to talk about, " he has learned that "what is it now" does not count as compassionate listening.

Another way we serve is simply to do things that will help make some one else`s life easier. In my old church in California there was a retired Admiral from the Navy who was great at this. He had been in charge of entire fleets, he had known Presidents and Senators, but he always said to us, "What do you need me to do? I`ll sweep floors, I`ll clean the windows, I`ll do anything." What`s amazing is he meant it. He would literally sweep floors and clean windows. I had such respect for him that even though he was this big deal Admiral, he was willing to serve like that just to make our lives easier at the church. That is being a servant. My wife tells me that I am most attractive to her when I am taking out the garbage. She says, "Nothing says romance like a man with a trash can." Being a servant means doing simple things that help other people make their life easier.

-- Finally, being a servant means finding ways to help other succeed and become all that God created them to be. One of the people who has served me most in my life is the Senior Pastor I worked for in California. He was constantly giving up his own preaching time, constantly taking a back seat so that I could develop my gifts as a pastor. That`s being a servant. We serve when we listen; we serve when we do things that simply help make other people`s lives easier; and we serve when we take a back seat and help others become everything God created them to be.

-- So, who is it going to be for you this week? Who are you going to serve? In your home, your neighborhood, your office, your school: who are you going to serve so that you can know the joy of feeling the God of the Universe, the God who even right now is creating galaxies and solar systems we don`t even know about, experience that very God working through you to help somebody else succeed and become everything He created them to be? And if you need help doing this ''and all of us do'' the person we look to is Jesus: because He did this perfectly. Even though He was God, He left heaven, came all the way down to earth and became a servant, even willing to die for us so that we could be reconciled to God, and as a result, God raised Him from the dead and lifted Him to heaven, and someday every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He came down, and He was exalted. It is the same with us. You see, we do not climb to the top - rather we descend into greatness. Down is up, and when we serve, then we are free. "

By: Scott Dudley
Category: Love One Another - Jesus
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Love Each Other

"Jesus when he summed up the whole law said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and strength and then love your neighbor, even real little ones. Love them the way you love yourself. And he says, I`ll help you do that all the time, my love is always available to you. The Psalmist says: The earth is filled with your love, O LORD; teach me your decrees. ''Psalm 119:64'' Everywhere I go, everywhere I turn, every room, every created piece of the universe, is an expression of God`s love; and it`s always there, it`s always available to me. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. ''Romans 13:8'' Paul, here, is using kind of a financial metaphor to talk about love. He says to let every interaction in your life be governed by the law of love. It`s kind of an odd thing about us, we get very good at tracking finances in our life. In the newspaper everyday I read about how financial stuff is going. How your portfolio is doing. We`re not so good at tracking love.

There is not a section in the newspaper that tells how love is going. When you go to an automated teller machine and insert a card you always have two basic options, and they are that you can make a deposit or make a withdrawal. How important is it to know the difference between a deposit and a withdrawal? Very important because when I make a deposit I am adding value. I`m building up reserves. Relationally and spiritually in God`s eyes, when I make a deposit in a life of a person then I am honoring love. In God`s eyes, a deposit is always honoring love. Might feel pleasant and joyful to that person, it might not. There might be a sting to it, but I am honoring the law of love. Withdrawal, on the other hand, is when I take away value - when I take value out, when the reserves go down. A withdrawal is always the violation of love. Withdrawal is always a violation of love. It might feel good to the other person.

It might involve flattery or something, but really what is happening is I`m violating the law of love. There is a third thing you can do. You can ask to check your balance. That is a good thing to do. Smart people do that because you might think you have a pretty good guess as to what your balance is, but if there is a difference between what you think your balance is and what the bank thinks your balance is, who wins? Bank always wins. Every relationship has kind of a running balance. Good or bad, big or small, red ink of black ink. Just as surely as you have a balance in your financial accounts, it is true in your relational life spiritually. That is why Paul writes: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. ''Romans 12:10'' In other words, don`t try to get more out of a relationship than what it is that you are putting into it because if the balance is high - good things happen in a relationship and if the balance is high, you can confront somebody when they need it and they will probably trust you.

If the balance is high you can express affection to somebody and they will probably receive those words because they believe it`s true. If the balance is high, when there is conflict it will probably get resolved because the other person will give you the benefit of the doubt. If the balance is low, all those dynamics run the other way. So wise people know what the balance is in our relationship. It is remarkable to me how often people, who are really smart in other areas of their lives, are not so smart in this one. There was an article awhile ago about people in the workplace. It said there is a very consistent finding. Do you think bosses, people with power, do you think bosses tend to overestimate or underestimate how happy the people are who work underneath them? Overestimate, very consistently. This is a constant danger in relationships. Paul writes, and this is a text usually taught on Father`s Day, Paul writes: Fathers, do not exasperate your children... ''Ephesians 6:4'' Now, why does Paul address this to fathers but not to mothers? Is it because men are more exasperating and irritating and have a bigger jerk factor than women do? No, I thought this would be a rather simple question. The correct answer would be No.

It is because in that culture men were basically the ones who hold the power and Paul knows how relationships work. He knows that people who have power in relationships will often be quite clueless about what the balance is. This is why when you go through the New Testament, when Jesus is teaching on relationships, consistently he teaches that those who have the greatest power must be the greatest servants. Wherever power is in operation, love has to be stronger than power or else power will do damage. This is why anytime you make your heart Christ`s home, He will always lead you or me into servanthood. He always does. When I don`t know what the balance is then the relationship is at risk.

We`ve all heard stories about this. One spouse comes home and says to the other one, "I`m done, I`ve had it, I`m finished, I`m through." The other spouse didn`t have a clue. They didn`t even see it coming. They had no idea. So I want to do an exercise for a moment right now. I would like to invite you to take out a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. Real quick. We track how things are going in a lot of other areas of our lives including finances. A lot of times people never do it in their relational lives. I want to give you an opportunity to do that right now. I would like to invite you to think about a couple of key relationships in your life. If you have children, you might want to write down just your kids` names on the side of this paper. Or, maybe it`s your mom. Or, maybe a couple of friends. Or, maybe a spouse. Then, next to their name or just their initial, if you want to keep it private or a number or something, next to that, on a scale of 0 to 100, just write down what do you think that person would say is the balance in your relational account these days? Zero to a hundred. Zero being real low, a hundred being real high.

Think about how much joy is there in our relationship. How much time do we spend together. How does affection get expressed? Are there any resentments or dings that have not been resolved? We do this financially, we get statements all the time. We expect it. It is amazing to me how often people don`t do this in relationships. So, right now, just next to the key relationships in your life, just write down, scale of 0 to 100, where do things stand? Maybe you`ll look at the number and say, God, thanks for giving me such a life giving relationship. Maybe you`ll look at it and say, Jesus, I need you to come into this relationship with me, into this room with me. Because, every interaction you have with another person, part of what`s going on is you`re making a little deposit or you`re making a little withdrawal. It goes on in our world all the time. That is why Paul writes words like these: This is from his letter to the church at Colossi. These words are so rich, let`s read them out loud together. Therefore, . . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other . . . ''Colossians 3:12''

There are no neutral interactions between people. In any encounter with human beings, including our children, we are never just exchanging information. Something is always going on spiritually. I am always either honoring love, making a deposit in you, or violating love. We all know this and this is why if you know there is somebody you are going to be with at a party or in their office, there are some people you think, I can`t wait to be with this person. I look forward to that. Then there are other people where you start planning your exit strategy even before you go into their office. This is going on in relationships all the time. Let`s talk about what this looks like for a moment. When you make a deposit into somebody`s heart and soul or somebody does that to you, what kind of actions, what kind of words of behavior does that involve? I am just going to ask you to just shout a few things out and I`ll write a few things down. What are things that count as a deposit in your relationship with other people? Time Affirmation Words of Encouragement ''somebody said'' A smile Serving somebody ''probably a Mom who said that'' Listen is huge Trust Those are all deposits.

Now, the withdrawal side. What are things that when someone does them to you that you can feel you`re losing a little life? It`s a withdrawal in a relationship. What constitutes a withdrawal? Critical or critical spirit - you can watch a kid wilt under that. Impatience Argument Unforgiving, an unforgiving spirit Anger It`s interesting that on the Sermon on the Mount, how quickly Jesus gets to anger when he is talking about life in the kingdom because when it is mismanaged it is so lethal. Anything else? Gossip Lack of compassion I`m going to stop there because I`m running out of room. But, again, this is going on all the time. A lot of times we don`t think about this. A lot of times all we think about is the content of whatever it is that we`re expressing. But, always, in every encounter between two human beings it is a spiritual encounter. And God wants to be making deposits in your heart and in your soul all the time because you and I cannot give what we don`t have. And where the whole love thing starts and every human relationship where it really always starts is in the God relationship. So much of what the Bible is about is God`s trying to convince the human race the kind of love that he wants to give it, how much God loves you and me. A lot of the pictures are pictures of the love a mom has for her child. Jesus says, you know, the way a mother hen longs to gather her chicks in, I`m going to gather you that way.

God says in the Old Testament, you know a mother always remembers her children. It`s the way a mother is. The way she is wired up. But even if she were to forget, I could never forget you my people. The LORD your God . . . will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. ''Zephaniah 3:17'' If a little kid gets cranky or anxious, and a mom can quiet the child with love. "He will rejoice over you with singing." Have you ever had anybody rejoice over you with singing lately? Have somebody just walk up to you and be so happy to see you they`d just burst into song? The Bible says God loves you so much he will rejoice over you with singing in the way that a mom does to a little child. Of course, the ultimate expression of this love was that when we had a moral debt to God that we could never pay, Jesus came to this earth and went to the cross to pay the debt that we could never pay. There`s an old song, some of you will know it. Oh, to grace how great a debtor Daily I`m constrained to be Everyday, everyday, everyday this debt of love So, God asks us to repay that debt of love that, in a sense we owe him, by loving the people that he loves so much."

By: John Ortberg
Category: Love One Another - Jesus
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Join God in an adventure of love
Last year when we were in Rwanda a couple of people from our team went to visit an orphanage. One of the rooms there was filled with babies whose parents had either died or left them at the orphanage because they couldn`t afford to feed them. There were so many babies that the staff couldn`t keep up with all the needs. The babies just lay there without crying, but when they heard the sound of an adult voice in the room, the babies would lift up their arms, just hoping that someone was going to pick them up. That`s how starved for human touch they were. The people who were there said it was just heartbreaking to see all those babies with their arms in the air, just hoping that someone was going to touch them.

In that moment, what would be the one thing you would want to do more than anything else in the world? What would be the one thing that would give you the most joy in that moment? Wouldn`t it be to pick up one of those babies? That`s what these people did. They started scooping up as many babies as they could pick up. Every time they picked up a baby the baby would smile and so would one of our team members, because it gave them joy. Maybe not happiness: maybe not the happiness that comes from getting everything you want when you want it, but something deeper, something longer lasting, something more powerful - joy. The joy that comes from having your heart broken by the things that break God`s heart, but then getting to be a part of God`s healing in the world. And that picture of all those babies with their arms in the air: isn`t that all of God`s children in one way or the other? Whether we`re nine months old or 99 years old, aren`t we all holding our hands up in the air in one way or the other, saying "Hey - is anyone out there or are we alone on this planet? Did somebody create us or are we just a bunch of cosmic goo that happened to come together in a certain way? Is there a purpose to all this, or are we just lost in a cosmic void?" And the moment when we ask that question, whether it`s the nine year old girl in Medina thinking she`d better lose some weight because that`s what our culture tells her will make her valuable, or the family that`s working hard but can`t get out of poverty, or the kid in Rwanda who wants to live a whole life but can`t because he`s got to turn tricks on the streets of Kigali just to eat, or whether it`s us sitting in the pews wondering if there isn`t more to life than consuming and racking up one more item on the resume, whenever we ask that question in any way, shape, or form, God`s heart breaks and He becomes passionate, passionate to let us know that He`s out there, passionate to push back the margins of evil in our world, and passionate that we join Him in this great adventure of binding up what Satan has torn apart..

By: Scott Dudley
Category: Jesus Says Love One Another
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'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "And a second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." ( Matthew 22:37-40)

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." ( John 13:34-35)

"Whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." ( Matthew 7:12)

"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward in heaven will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." ( Luke 6:35)

"Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." ( Mark 10:43-45)

"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you." ( John 13:14-15)

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