Friday, April 25, 2014

2062 - THURSDAY NIGHT- [This will be the last post till I arrive in New Jersey- for my Texas friends- I’ll try and post pictures daily- or let’s say more than usual- so you can see the great shots from the area]

 I was debating on whether or not to post these next few weeks.


Last year I took a few months off- and I do feel there are times that we should all do that- ‘that’ being take a break from social media.

But- as of now- I think I’ll write/post during my trip.

Today was a real interesting day- I’ll talk about that in the morning.

For now let me continue this unofficial study thru the gospel of John.

I have simply been reading thru John- and the progression- both of the ‘thought’ of Jesus- as well as his interaction- you could call it his struggles- with not only what’s going on around him.

But with God himself- I find fascinating.

‘What do you mean- struggles with God’?

Ok- in the field of Theology [scholarship] there has been an ongoing debate about just how much Jesus knew about his mission from the start.

 For example- we know Jesus was/is God in the flesh- but the bible also tells us that he grew in wisdom and understanding.

So- some surmise that he began to progressively see the whole picture- as time went on.

John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

What cup?

Jesus drank the sin of the world into himself- he spoke of his soon demise in terms that showed he did indeed struggle with the inevitable- he said stuff like-

‘If it be possible- let this cup pass from me- never the less- not my will [not what I want] but your will be done’.

He finally passed the point of ‘no return’ that is he settled within himself that he would indeed follow the path that God gave him.

But- it seems as in if he went back and forth at times.

Why even pray for God to remove it- if he knew from the start that he had to die in Jerusalem?

He struggled- that’s why.

John 18:14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
John 18:32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

The next few weeks- in between the normal posts- I will try and also follow the story of Christ-

I do realize that we are one week away [wow- I just realized one day away] from Good Friday- the day the church ‘celebrates’ the death of Christ.

Someone just asked me why they call this day ‘good’.

I told them- in the eyes of man- it might seem ‘bad’.

But- It was the predetermined plan of God- and the fact that Jesus chose to go thru with it- well- indeed- in the end- it was GOOD.

GOOD FRIDAY- yesterday I had an interesting day.

I have decided that I’m going to help Angel with her halfway house in the Bluff.

At the mission one of the guys who was in the first meeting I did at the new halfway house [New? I have been working with ‘ours’ for a few years now- the Bluff one is new ‘to me’]

Anyway- the first meeting went real well- Angel made my meetings mandatory for the guys to attend.

Geez- I have a hard time rounding up the guy's at our halfway house!

So we had a small ‘crowd’.

At Timons I saw Shaky- one of the ‘mandatory attendees’. Shaky [gets his name from severe shakes- the guys are not allowed to start drinking till 3- and he shakes bad. I noticed In the mornings I do have pretty bad trembling in my hands. Mark- the cook at Timons saw me trying to pour coffee into the cup- for some reason at that time- around 10 or so- I do have the effects of my years of drinking- I have to put the cup down and pour].

Shaky told me ‘John_ I’m an agnostic- and Angel threatened to kick me out if I didn’t attend your meeting [CooL!].

‘So- I just paid my rent- and that’s the only reason I went’.

I talked to Shaky during the lunch- and told him I’m ok with Agnostics- Atheists- I have friends who come from all sides.

Now- he started enjoying the conversation [warning Shaky- this is usually how it starts- I’ll sit- listen- and over time the guys do indeed bond. It’s strange- but my ministry is a real life brotherhood- I’m not doing this stuff with the mindset of being some type of Preacher. As a matter of fact I’m tired of people asking me if I’m a preacher- I’m dropping that title as of today].

So- we talked a bit.

Now- Lance- the kid I’m working with- he’s still upset about Destiny breaking up with him.

And- he’s back into the fighting mode- yeah- he told me ‘If Huey shows up- I’m gonna kick his ass’.

Frankly- Huey probably deserves it [long story] but my worry is that the kid might get arrested for assault.

Sure enough- Huey showed up.

Now- Lance did sort of drop kick him [remember- the kid is an MMA type].

Huey got scared- you could tell Lance was at the edge.

I’ve been there- done that- and when you’re at that point- you could almost feel it- like you know it’s ‘going down’.

I stood right there during the encounter- had no plans on breaking it up- unless the kid was going to hurt Huey real bad.

Huey managed to talk him out of it- but it came close.

I Told Lance ‘ride with me- I’m going back to Angels- gonna hang out with you guys today’.

He rode his bike back- I gave Huey and Tim a ride to try and get the phone that they took from Lance.

Anyway- it worked out ok- and I sat with the guys at the halfway house.

By the way- Huey knows the kid can ‘take him’ so- he tries to protect himself by telling the kid he has connections [brothers and street guys] who will ‘do the work for him’.


So- as I got back to the halfway house- all the guys were there.

Shaky- already becoming a friend- was there.

Now- this is the way it works.

I don’t really bring up God or the bible- no- In these settings I’m really one of the guys.

But- the guys themselves will usually bring it up on their own.

And Shaky- he had tons of questions about God and the bible.

Danny Gil had some good responses- Albert told me he feels that God wants him to be my ‘right hand man’ and work with me in ministry.

I mean we talked for about 5 hours- and no joke- this was the whole conversation.

Shaky even said ‘John- I know this isn’t bible stud time- but do you mind that we keep asking you these questions’?

I mean- it’s funny- the poor guy got ‘hooked’ [you know- fishers of men] and he was the one who came to the first meeting- under great duress!

Now- the rules of this halfway house are different- the guys kept saying ‘how long till 3?’

For some reason they were all checking the time.


I could tell they really didn’t want to say why- and Angel and her boyfriend were there [by the way- Jesse- her boyfriend really enjoyed the first meeting I did].

So- the 3 o’clock bell sounded- and yeah- they broke out the 40’S.

The rule is no drinking- till 3. [40’s are the big beer bottles- my old addiction].

I said ‘Oh- that’s why you guys looked so eagerly for 3- I thought maybe it was prayer time?’

They said ‘John- don’t sit with us- we don’t want to tempt you’.

I told them ‘look- I’ll be in NY in a few days- hanging out with Heroin addicts- trust me- I have no problem with it’.

I noticed Shaky- who had the most questions about God- after his first 40- the shakes stopped.
When your body becomes addicted- as well as your mind- then the alcohol is in a sense your ‘medication’.

After he drank the first 40- I was shaking worse than him- something.

Before I took off, Lance borrowed my phone to call his mom in Pennsylvania.

Lance reminds me of myself- when I first ‘landed’ in Texas- I was living the life that he lives right now.

I’d call my dad in N.J. - not even knowing what day of the week it was- they of course worried.

So- Lance hasn’t called/texted his mom since the last time he borrowed my phone [remember- Huey ‘had’ Lances phone].

So- he told me I might get a text later from his mom- I said ‘fine- I’ll tell you when I see you’.

Before I saw Lance at the house- he and Huey did leave together to get the kids phone.

Now- when I left- Lance was there- Huey was gone.

Lance told me ‘John- don’t worry- me and Huey made up’.

I think Huey mentioned me- when he was with Lance.

Sort of like ‘Lance- I have connections- preacher John will defend me if he has to!’

Being I just won the arm wrestling match- I think Huey might have pulled this rabbit out of the bag- sad- I know.

I told Lance ‘kid- I really don’t care If you kick his ass- I was going to do it myself when I thought he stole my shotguns- I just don’t want you getting arrested for an assault’.

Later that night- lances mom did text back.

I told her ‘This is John- your sons friend- I’ll relay the message later’.

I said ‘I take Lance with me to my bible meetings’

She texted back ‘Thank you so Much!!’.

Yeah- she’s worried about the kid.

All in all it was a good day- Shaky ‘bonded’ in just one day.


In the bible it talks about the church as a brotherhood- you become friends first- then the ‘God thing’ becomes a natural part.

Even if the person is not into God- when they bond- it becomes part of the relationship.

See- God is smart- Jesus said if we followed him- we would become ‘fishers of men’.

Yeah- people get ‘hooked’ to you first- then without realizing it- they get ‘caught’.

SATURDAY- I have decided to have a full week before I take off to New Jersey.
At first I debated about just using this trip as a vacation- doing nothing- and getting some needed rest.

But- the plan changed- and I want to maximize the time.

Ok- yesterday was busy- I am starting a couple of new meetings at a bad time- because I’ll be gone soon.

But- the doors opened up so to speak- and I have found over the years that when you see a ‘chance- take it’.

Now- this week I talked to my friend Dirk [in jail].

To be honest- I’m not sure if all the running around were doing [me and his lawyer] is really helping the guy.

He was supposed to call me this week at Timons.

I told him that if I’m on the road I don’t answer the phone [it’s now illegal to do that].

So- call me at 12:15- when I’m at the mission.

I waited for the call all week- nothing.

So- he calls me on Good Friday [my only day off for this week].

And he asks if I got his bank card and possessions.

He released them to his lawyer- to give to me.

The lawyer got a hold of me at the mission- and the ‘plan’ was a go.


Yeah- Dirk wanted me to pull out 400 bucks form his account- get his guitars and stuff out of the pawn shop- put the left over money in his jail account.

I told him that I went into the bank- told them I’d rather do it inside- then drive thru- so it would be on the up and up [ I didn’t want to be in NY- and find out I have a warrant for my arrest because they have me on video- with someone else’s card- taking cash out].

The bank teller told me they could not give me money from another person’s account- unless my name is on the account.

I figured this already- that’s why I went inside.

So- they said it is still illegal to do it thru the drive thru- but ‘they won’t say anything’ if I do.

No way hon- not doing it.


You would have to read all the posts from last year- but basically I’m not in good with the local cops.

To be honest- I think they deem me as a threat- to them- because of certain stuff that went on last year.

So- I’m not gonna take the chance- and be in a position where I’m needing them to ‘give me a break’.

No- I don’t expect any breaks- nor should they.

So- I told Dirk the story- and that was that [I thought].

Then he called his lawyer- got the guy to come to my house- get the bank card- I miraculously remembered his pin number [Geeez- I forget my own!].

He got the cash out- I met him at the pawn shop- took about 45 minutes to check his 3 guitars and stuff out.

Then had stuff to do- I am busy.

He called back later- when I was busy- who knows- maybe another thing he needs. [As I type- my phone is ringing- I bet it’s him!]

I told his lawyer ‘He’s lucky we are doing all this- usually a public defender won’t go out- on Good Friday- to do this’.

The guy asked me when I’m leaving to N.Y. - and when I’m returning.

I gave him the scoop- then realized he might be intrigued a bit- about the whole ministry thing- so- maybe this is a witness in a way- who knows?

Anyway- as things go- when you running around like this- you make mistakes.

I spent about 100 dollars at Lowes- money I don’t have right now [I charged the plane ticket to my credit card] and was going to use the credit card- not my debit card.

I need what little cash I have to last till my retirement check comes in [once a month].

But- I used my debit card by mistake- bad move.

I bought about 50 dollars of paint for Angel’s halfway house.

She’s painting the trailer/house- and I wanted her to know I’m behind her.

The other night after the meeting she told me how the guys needed a sort of man/Father figure to do the teaching and stuff.

I already work with a few of the guys- and she said they all spoke well of me.

So- I saw right away that this would be a new open door- yeah- I walked thru.

I’ll drop off the paint later- today I will take some guys to our first Kingsville meeting.

Then have another full day- I told the guy’s if they want to come back to the house later- they can spend the night and we will wake up early and make the Sunrise Easter service at Cole Park.

I have been to it many times- it’s a passion play right off the bay- very nice.

I have been wanting to take some of the guy's over the years- but it never happened.

This year it will.

I think I will teach on the story of Joseph this week- I try and do at least some bible theme both on the Blog as well as at the meetings.

I was also going to teach some on Philosophy and Apologetics- but that will have to wait.

Yesterday- as well as the past few months- I have felt like one of the characters in one of my favorite movies.

What movie- some Jesus thing?

Sorry to disappoint- but I’m talking about Goodfellas.

Yeah- I’m a mafia nut [Actually Donnie Brascoe is my favorite].

In Goodfellas Old Liotta is driving around- paranoid- thinking some helicopter is on his tail [Hmm?- Paranoid?]

He’s rushing around- Listening to some classic rock [I love the soundtrack to this flick].

In between all that's going on- he’s cooking some fine Italian food.

Yeah- the scene is cool- even though in my case the busy days are not around Coke deals.

But yeah- I like being on the go- doing what you can- hoping to not make too many mistakes [like the charge card].

But yeah- it’s good to fill your days with good stuff.

As I talked with the guys at the Bluff halfway house.

We had some things- well let’s say- in common.

As they pulled out their beers [40 ounce bottles].

I told them I used to have a system at the house- I would fill up 2 trash cans with my empties- and dump them into the bin in the front.

I mean I had so many beer bottles- I had to have a system.

I would even try and dump a few every day- before the trash cans got full- I mean they were heavy.

But- as things go- I often dumped them when full [or overflowing].

I would sit in my yard on trash day- and man- when the truck dumped my bin- all you heard were those beer bottles clanging- for about a block.

So- as I talked with the guys- they mentioned how so and so [Roger] drinks the beer- even if flies got in it.

I told them I did this many times- I mean the flies get into the bottle- and I wasn’t going to throw it out- it took too long to strain them [which I attempted a few times].
So- yeah- I drank the flies- spit them out if I could- but the beer was ‘more valuable’ then avoiding the taste of the fly.

They said ‘yeah Roger drinks them even with roaches’.

Ok- there were times where I couldn’t get a beer [too early to buy one].

So- I went into my stash- the empty bottles- some half empty- yeah- in those trash cans.

And yeah- they had those big roaches in them.


Well- no- I didn’t drink the roaches- but yes- I poured what little I could find from those bottles- roaches and all- and picked them out- and yeah- downed the thing.

So- in a way- I told the guys we had a lot in common.

But now- I hope some of them follow my new path.

Yeah- some have already.

But I’m afraid the others will keep swallowing the flies.

SATURDAY NIGHT- Just a few comments about today- then in the morning I’ll do the teaching for the week.

We had a real good meeting in Kingsville today.

For the first time in a long time- I saw my good friend David.
I taught a little- not too long- but the best part was the guys sharing with one another- as I sat back and listened.

I had Lance with me- and a few other guys.

I see lance as a son in a way- and even though he has a long way to go- that’s ok.

David is doing real well- he was an addict for many years- I used to preach at the jails 25 years ago- and that’s how I met his dad.

David and his brothers came to me this way.

David- like Emit the other day- has moved on with his life.

He’s a family man- and like Emit- these are not the things that occupy their lives- which is ok.

I realized that I in a sense have never stopped the ‘outreach’ part of my life.

No- when I ‘left’ this original group in 1992- all thru my years of struggles- yet- I continued to do my best to keep going.

I saw today that I’m the ‘different’ one in the group.

I was never happy- just being a family man- in a way I have been obsessed with having to go out- reach out- keep the mission going- even at times during what most would call ‘a complete breakdown’.


I see this as my purpose- not a job- or ‘ministry’ per se-

But my purpose.

My old friends- like David today- have told this new crew- that we go back a long ways- and they vouch for me.

As we got back to Corpus- I spent the rest of the day with the guys at the halfway house.

We all had some good fellowship- in the mix of it all- someone mentioned ‘preachers’- Lance- who I call ‘kid’ said ‘Johns a good preacher’.

Funny- he’s on a road that you would never have thought he would be hanging out with some ‘preacher’.

But I have sort of adopted this kid- and the reason he said this- I think- is because he sees I ‘love’ him- for real.

I realized today that I have to do this stuff- I don’t think I could live life- simply being a family man.

Don’t get me wrong- my old friends are doing real well- they are in a way a result of me ‘doing this’ with them- some 25 years ago.

And to be honest- it’s great to do this- I see it as an honor.

Today was a good day- much has been accomplished this past year- today was a big part of ‘finishing’ well.


Let’s try and do the story of Joseph.

The last week or so I finished reading the book of Genesis- we find the famous story of Joseph- one of the sons of Jacob- here.

Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob- and Jacob showed special favoritism towards him. He made him a coat of ‘Many colors’ and his brothers saw how his dad treated him.

This made them jealous of course.

One day Joseph had a dream [actually 2] he dreamed that he was to have authority over his brothers- and parents [I’ll try and paste the dreams at the end].

His brothers resented this and they hatched a plan to kill him.

But 2 of his brothers- Rueben and Judah tried to spare him. They instead sell Joseph to some merchants- and he winds up in Egypt as a sort of slave.

He gets a job at the home of Potiphar- a big man in the govt. of Pharaoh- and over time Joseph’s gifts shine forth.

 He excels in Potiphar’s house and he puts him in charge of his entire household.

Now- the bible says Joseph was a good looking guy- and the wife of his boss wants to sleep with him.

Joseph refuses- and she eventually frames him for rape.

Once again- he ends up on the wrong end of the stick- and gets thrown in jail.

Now- the bible says ‘a man’s gift makes room for him’.

Joseph had a gift- the interpretation of dreams.

In jail he meets 2 of Pharaohs chief officers- a Butler and Baker.

They have these dreams- and Joseph gives them the interpretation.

One is told ‘in 3 days you will be restored to your previous position’

The other is told that he will die.

Sure enough- the butler [cup bearer] gets out- and the baker gets hung.

Now- Joseph tells the Butler ‘when you get out- please recount my story to Pharaoh- so he can do what’s right and get me out of here!’

The Butler gets out- but forgets to do this favor for Joseph.

Over time Pharaoh himself has 2 dreams- he awakens and is disturbed by them.

He gathers all his magicians and stuff- and no one is able to tell him what the dreams mean.

At this point the Butler remembers Joseph- and tells Pharaoh about him- that he knows someone who can interpret dreams.

Sure enough- they get Joseph and he reveals the meaning of the dreams to Pharaoh.

The dreams mean that there will be 7 years of plenty- followed by 7 years of famine.

Pharaoh places Joseph over the economy of Egypt- and Joseph caries out a plan to save food during the 7 years of plenty- and then when the famine hits- all the ‘world’ will come to Joseph in Egypt- and eventually ‘sell their souls’ for some food.

Over a period of time Jacob- Joseph’s father [who thinks he’s dead] will come to Joseph and buy some grain.

His brothers make the trip from Canaan to Egypt and when Joseph sees them he recognizes them.

But they don’t know who he is.

He finally tells them that he is their brother- and they are shocked to say the least.

They of course fear for their lives- I mean they did do him wrong- he tells them ‘What you meant for evil- God meant for good- to send me before you to save your lives’.

Joseph spent much of his life in great difficulty- yet he understood that God permitted these things to happen to him- so in the end he would be able to help people.

The dreams he had early in life- were indeed true- he rose to prominence over his brothers and they did indeed come and bow down to him.

They did this willingly- for their own sakes.

The story of Joseph is a famous one- the most important aspect [in my view] is that he understood that the stuff that happens to you in life should be seen with the ‘end in mind’.

The true purpose of God for him was that he would someday be in a position where he would be able to do much good.

The way he would arrive at the place- was thru great suffering.

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

He had to suffer first- be buried- and on the 3rd day rise again.

Like Josephs brothers- many don’t see him for who he is- yet.

But there will come a day when their eyes will be opened- then they will see.

Genesis 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.
Genesis 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
Genesis 37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
Genesis 37:6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
Genesis 37:7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
Genesis 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
Genesis 37:9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
Genesis 37:10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
Genesis 37:11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Chapter Thirty Nine

Genesis 39:1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
Genesis 39:2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
Genesis 39:3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
Genesis 39:4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
Genesis 39:5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
Genesis 39:6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
Genesis 39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
Genesis 39:8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
Genesis 39:9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
Genesis 39:10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
Genesis 39:11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
Genesis 39:12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
Genesis 39:13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
Genesis 39:14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
Genesis 39:15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
Genesis 39:20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
Genesis 42:6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
Genesis 42:7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
Genesis 42:8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
Genesis 42:9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
Genesis 45:3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
Genesis 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Genesis 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Genesis 50:15 And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
Genesis 50:16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
Genesis 50:17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
Genesis 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
 NOTES- It was Joseph’s perspective that ‘saved’ him- he saw the things that happened to him thru the paradigm of ‘God was behind it all’.

The coat of many colors showed special favoritism to one son above the others.

Though in the story it has meaning- God the Father did indeed favor the Son above all others [he has given him a name above every name].

Yet- in a practical way- Parents need to be careful when they show favor to one child above another- this was the cause for the brother’s hatred of Joseph.
 Joseph was a type of Christ in many ways- more than I am covering in this short post.
The apostle Paul says in the letter to the Romans that the Jewish people will one day see/recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah-

But as of now- they don’t ‘recognize him’.

In the story of Joseph- he recognized his brothers- yet when conversing with them spoke the Egyptian language and used a translator.
He was ‘hidden’ from their eyes- yet they were known to him.
Much like Christ ‘he came unto his own [the Jews] and they knew him not- the world was made by him- and he was in the world- yet they knew [recognized] him not’.

So- these are just a few nuggets at the end- I would suggest you read the whole story in the book of Genesis- chapters 37-50.

Had a full day yesterday- met the younger kids [25- kids- to me] at the Halfway house and spent most of the day with them.

I gave Joshua a ride to the hospital- he had to get checked for some stuff.

Took Lance with me.

The guys know I’m going to New Jersey Saturday- and Lance asked me if I knew a town called Seaside Heights.

‘Yeah- I walked the boardwalk last year- those are some of the pictures I have hanging on the wall in my office’.

Lance is from Pennsylvania- spent a few years in Montana- and like a lot of my friends- wound up in the Bluff.

Our area is right off the Gulf of Mexico- you could walk to the ocean from my house [over the bridge]. So- in a way- it’s like living on the Jersey Shore.

So Lance told me he went out with some girl from that area- her name was Libuti.
I told him ‘one of my friends from Jersey had the same name’.

Lance said he met a family member- some guy with a missing leg- and arm.


I asked him ‘what’s was his first name’?

‘John- yeah- John Libuti’.
That’s my friend- we grew up in North Bergen- Libuti is a friend on Facebook- and some of the old war stories I have told- well John was friends with some of the guys at the time [Cheech- an older post].
Lance said ‘wow- what a small world’- yeah.

I spent most of the day with Lance- before I head out I think this kid needs the time the most.

Where I live- I know the older guys on the streets- and all of the ‘new kids’ are really a whole new generation- and my goal is to reach them before they too become ‘the old crew’.

I saw Jason [Denis] a week or so ago- I was taking Lance with me to the Bishop meeting [which we will do again today].

Jason said ‘good John- you’re doing a good thing’.
Jason- the ‘old crew’ knows Lance.

After a full day- I now have a habit of driving to the Island- I park next to Bob Hall pier- and finish the day just watching the waves roll in.

Over the years I never really enjoyed the Island- I was always drunk when I was there.

But now- everything looks different to me- like I’m seeing the world thru a different lens- and it feels good.

So- at about 4 o’clock I told the guys ‘I’m heading to the island- gonna get some r and r’.

I stopped at the store to get some cigarettes- as I got out of the car I heard ‘John!’
Sure enough- it was Jason.

He always greets me with a hug- we go back a long way- and he is simply a good friend.
He’s living the rough life- has been for years.
He and Andy are close friends- and I’m close with Andy.

One day Jason even told  ‘I have Andy’s new phone #- you want it?’
They usually don’t just give them out- but Jason knows Andy and I are good friends.

So- I gave Jason a hug- told him I’m heading to the island for about an hour.

As I walked in the store- I had the thought ‘Why don’t you by him a beer’.

You know- I did.

It’s the first beer I have bought n a year and a half- and I normally [Never?] do this.

But- I just felt like I should [beer is not Jason’s ‘main’ problem].
So- as I walked out I gave him the can of Beer- he said ‘hey wait- say hi to someone on the phone- surprise him’.

Yeah- it was Andy- on his way to pick up Jason in the van I sold him last year.

I told Jason ‘hey bro. I wanted to tell you something and hadn’t had a chance’.

A few weeks ago the local cops put out notices in the camp sites that the homeless guy’s live in- these are illegal spots in the Bluff where the homeless set up makeshift camps.
They were nice about it- gave everyone a week’s notice to move out.
They could have kicked them out on the spot.

The cops have to do this- the stabbing of my friend Tennessee just took place there a few months ago- and the cops can’t just let this go on.

So- lots of the Homeless were pissed off- trying to get petitions going and stuff.

But I noticed Jason defended the action- and said the cops are just doing their job- and he ‘toned down’ the rhetoric of the people who were 'talking smack’.

I noticed this- and saw that even though Jason is ‘one of them’ yet- he has tried to keep the guys from doing wrong.

This is not the first time I have seen him do this either.

So- I have been wanting to tell him that I respect that- I told him ‘Jason- your are an elder in a way- your doing good when you do stuff like this’.

He asked me to pray the Lord’s Prayer- out loud- with him in the parking lot.

I have done this many times with him over the years- It’s not a game- he does indeed have a real spiritual side to him.

We prayed- Jason cried.

I told him I spent the day trying to help Lance out.

This time- the response about Lance was not good.

Jason just said ‘John- in the Bluff- as you know- we go back a long way. And here we have a community [even among the users]. But you can’t cross too many lines’.

I knew what he was saying- Lance is new- he’s a fighter [I’ll get to this in a moment] and I think he’s on the edge of getting into trouble- either hurting someone- or getting hurt himself.

As I talked with Lance earlier in the day- I found out more about his story.

He did some time for a very serious federal crime.

In another state- he was involved with some bad people- and they committed some bad crimes- which got him some federal time in prison.

Lance told me how one day his dad came to see him- visit him and his mom in Montana.

His dad- as well as Lance- are competitive Kick boxers [I thought MMA at first- but it’s sort of the same thing].
He grew up in it- his father also competed.

So- one day he fought with his dad- and Lance told me ‘he choked me out’.

Lance woke up- with his dad doing a ‘ground and pound’ on his face.

Broke his nose.

Lance was one of the top fighters in Montana- I think he was in the top 3 for the whole state at the time.

So- I knew he had some experience- but didn’t know this much.

Because of his past- doing time in federal prison- he is very paranoid.
He has [had] PTSD and he’s on meds for various things.

Lance is dangerous- and in a way Jason ‘tipped me off’ that he has crossed too many lines.

Something interesting happened this day.

I remember when Dirk stabbed Tennessee- lance told me that he was with Dirk the night before- and he knew there was something wrong with him.

He was acting strange- and saying some off the wall stuff- but also some good stuff.

Lance told me at the time that he wrote down some of the stuff Dirk was saying.

Yesterday he showed me the notes- I asked him if I could take them and read them.


These were some of the things he wrote-

‘Try to look deeper into others means of communication to gain a better understanding of how others interpret your intentions’
‘Accept fault on yourself- accept new ideas- think outside your box’
‘talk about related topics- avoid unnecessary extra talk’ [I have known Dirk for a long time- and to be honest he struggles with this- he does talk- nonstop- and has a hearing problem. Lots of people don’t like him around because of this- we became good friends because I learned to listen to him- not get inpatient. I never knew he was working on this- till I saw these notes].

‘set goals- plan ahead’
‘take enough time to think thru life changing situations’.
There are a few more like this.

I found this last one to be prophetic- Dirk stabbed Tennessee the next day.
‘Your life can turn around at any moment’.

Yes my friend- it sure can.

NOTE- When I talked with Lance- realized why he is paranoid- he told me ‘John- I don’t tell people too much- I’m always worried that they might be undercover FBI- if your one- then I’d rather it be you- then someone else’.

It reminded me of a line from Donnie Brascoe- Al Pacino [Lefty] said the same thing to Johnny Depp.

It took some time- not much- to become good friends with Lance. He has not told me anything that rises to the level of a serious crime. His past is on record.

But I did tell him ‘Kid- I’ve been around here a long time- I’m not about that [I think he knows- the old crew vouch for me- that yeah- John believes in what he’s doing- for real] I’m doing this stuff- well- for God’.

WEDNESDAY- Had a good meeting in Bishop yesterday- tonight I will do my last meeting in the Bluff till I get back.

While in Bishop- I got a text.

I usually don’t read them until later- but I figured I’d look.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I held a short meeting at our halfway house on the other side of town.

For the first time- Chris Mcusker attended.

He and his brother studied for the priesthood at Notre Dame- and lots of times guys with this background avoid ‘bible studies’.

But John David told Chris ‘look- John is not like the usual type preacher- he really gets into this stuff- peaches Catholic theology and all- you need to attend’.

So- I did a short meeting- talked about how Jesus called his men- and how thru the gift of prophecy he ‘lured’ them in [gave the examples of Jesus saying to Nathanael- I saw you when you were under the fig tree- stuff like that].

At the end- I closed with a short prayer- and Chris ‘crossed’ himself [did the sign of the Cross].

 Later that night got a text from David that Chris collapsed- again- and was admitted to the hospital.

He has been on life support about 5 times in these past few years since I’ve known him.
Lots of the guys at our halfway house come to us- well- on their death bed.

Many have bad livers- getting biopsies- some have had cancer of the liver.

Lots of long term affects from drugs and alcohol.

So- the text I got while in Bishop read ‘Chris died’.

This year one of the themes has been ‘time is short- some are going to die this year if they don’t get clean now’.

And this ‘prophecy’ has come to pass [I have seen more people die this year- from the streets- then any other year- that is people I knew from the streets].

I’ll see David in a bit- these last few days I’ll spend some time with the crew from the West side.

At the meeting I taught the story of Joseph- the teaching for this week.

Henry was there- and Henry is smart- we can talk theology- scholarship- lots of stuff I normally don’t bring up with the regular crew.

Henry mentioned Judah- one of the brothers of Joseph.
The prophecy that Jacob gives over his sons- one of the things he said to Judah is pretty famous.

‘Out of thee shall he come forth who shall be ruler of the people- the scepter shall not depart form Judah’ [I’ll try and copy the whole thing below].

Yeah- this prophecy speaks of Christ- in the book of Hebrews it says that the reason Christ came from a ‘non priestly’ tribe [ Judah- not Levi] was because the New Covenant is not based upon the Law.

The Old Covenant [trying to please God thru works- keeping the 10 commandments] had their own priesthood- the Levites.

So- this prophecy that Jesus will come from Judah- not Levi- showed us that today- in the New Testament church- we are no longer under a law mentality [trying to ‘save ourselves’ thru works].
But no- we have a high priest who came from a different tribe- the family of Judah.

This signifying that there was indeed a change of the priesthood- and a change in how we now approach God.
The bible says ‘the law came by Moses- but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’.

So yeah- the prophecy about Judah has a lot of deep truths in it- and me and Henry both talked a bit- maybe on a ‘higher plane’ then usual- for my meetings- but it was good.

The other day I spent about 2 hours talking with Joshua- the house leader at Angel’s halfway house.

Josh does not hang out on the streets- he is sort of an intellectual- has studied world religions- all sorts of stuff.

He told me ‘I don’t want to sound arrogant John- but I don’t like hanging out with uneducated people- it doesn’t benefit me’.

Talking about the street crew.

Well- once again- I found a person who has real objections to the faith- and these friends of mine [Josh, Nikki, the guy who taught at Cal Berkley, etc.]

They are smart- so- it helps for them to talk to a ‘preacher’ who has a background in a lot of the stuff they too know.

So- I talked to Josh for a while- engaged in a serious discussion about world religions- Greek philosophy- Cosmology [How Ptolemy had a pretty accurate idea of the Solar System- a few hundred years before Christ].

Talked about Alexander the Great- the Hellenization of the Roman Empire- and how that was the reason our New Testaments were written in Geek- not Latin.

Ok- wanted you to give you an idea of how the conversation went.

After about an hour and a half- one of the guys walked in and said ‘its 3’ [for them- drinking time].

Josh said ‘I can’t believe we have been talking for almost 2 hours- it seemed like about 10-15 minutes’.

Now- the reason it ‘seemed’ short- was because Josh was engaging in a conversation- who by his own testimony [I hate talking to ignorant people] that he normally would not engage in.

Now- I did indeed share scripture- and showed him how some of his ideas were in line with the historic faith- something that he was not aware of.

Some of what he thought were objections to the faith [certain beliefs he held] were not objections to the faith.

He did not realize that he was actually holding to the Christian Worldview- as opposed to a non-Christian perspective.

Josh offered to download a bunch of bible stuff for me- he has studied Christianity as well as other religions- and at the end of our conversation- well- he became a new friend.

One of the biggest surprises has been Danny Gil.
I have known him for years- he is an alcoholic- and gets in lots of fights.

We almost got into it a few times ourselves.

Danny has been hearing me talk to the guys- and he has a real good background in the bible.

He knows a lot- this really surprised me.

And he did not attend the first meeting I did in the Bluff- but after hearing me talk- he has opened up.
Once again- he knows a lot- and people who are ‘smart’ often have disdain for uneducated ‘preachers’.

I shared a story with the guys the other day- Danny was there.

My hands shake- sometimes pretty bad.

Every so often someone will notice ‘hey John- I thought you quit drinking- why are your hands shaking’.

I tell them I did quit- it’s the after effects of all those years.

So- somehow the guys were talking about blaming others for stuff- when they are drunk.

Then later they realize they were wrong.

I told them one time I came back from the store with my two 40’s of beer.
I was in a rush to ‘start on them’ so I got out of the car- I hid the beers in one of those HEB bags- so people wouldn’t see me walking in every day- at 7:00 am- with my beer.

So- I got drunk- did the normal routine- and crashed out on the couch.

The next day- I couldn’t find the keys to my car- my classic  Mustang.
I looked all over- no where to be found.
As the day went on- I thought one of my kids took them [or my wife] you know- maybe to keep me from going out and getting more beer?

So- I had my daughter empty her purse- I accused everyone of  ‘hiding my damn keys’.

And- the way things go- I decided to ‘hot wire’ the car.

Yeah- I went into the garage- cut the ignition wires- and screwed up the car- for good.

So- now even if I find the keys- the car won’t work.

So- after a day or so- I think ‘geez- I was in such a rush to drink the beer- maybe I dropped the keys in the HEB bag’.

Sure enough- there they were.

So- I had the keys- but already tore up the ignition- sad- I know.

Danny did almost the same thing- but he left the keys in the freezer.

So after relaying the story- yeah- me and Danny have something in common.
He too accused his family of hiding the keys- thinking they didn’t want him to drive drunk.

He did the same thing as me- and found the keys in the freezer a day or so later.

The apostle Paul said ‘I have become all things to all men- that I might save some’.

I’m grateful that I can discuss stuff with intellectuals- or have common ground with drunks- or simply talk theology with Henry.

God uses us- our good- and bad experiences- to draw others in.

Like the story of Joseph- stuff happened to him- bad stuff- but in the end it worked out well.

If you remember- he said ‘you meant it for evil- God meant it for good- so I would go before you- and save many lives’.

Yeah- amen.

Genesis 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.
Genesis 49:9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Genesis 49:11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
Genesis 49:12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

THURSDAY- I want to do some teaching on Philosophy- and the development of Western Thought- maybe I’ll get to it tonight.

Last night we had a good meeting at Angel’s halfway house here in the Bluff.

This is turning out to be one of the most effective meetings yet.


Because the atmosphere is really what I wanted form the start- the halfway house I do with David is good- but too strict.

At the one in the Bluff- it’s more of an open door feeling- the guys can drink and stuff after a set time- and I rather be ‘in the mix’ like this.

Ok- we had a new guy show up- he’s not a street guy- but a Christian who angel invited.

I did the teaching on Joseph- Danny said I was a good speaker [I just quote and talk- very open- I do use street language too- so- for the ‘high class’ bible study types- it might be a bit much].

But- I’m not there for them.

So- Angel’s friend James- after I was done teaching- he had lots of questions.

He saw me smoking- then talked about people being demon possessed- and how nicotine is a ‘demon’.

Ok- I wasn’t offended- but he did have a lot of other ‘strange’ beliefs- things that I am capable of ‘correcting’ in a nice way.
But to be honest- I wanted to hang with the guys- that’s where I do my most effective work.
So James had me for about an hour- asking all types of stuff- I mean ‘the crew’ wanted to hang- and Shaky even came outside- after James had my ear for an hour- Shaky said ‘John- before you leave don’t forget to talk to me’.


Yet- James wanted my time.

I did my best- I also noticed he is an ex Catholic- and lots of times these guys are the most anti Catholic of all.

During the meeting I prayed for Angel- she has some very serious health issues.

I anointed her with some Hoy Water that I got from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City last year.

I didn’t say where I got it from- because I knew James was anti Catholic.
After the meeting he asked- so I wouldn’t lie- I told him where it was from.

He talked about all the ‘idols’ and demons in the Catholic church- I mean I’m able to correct a lot of this stuff- but I didn’t want to get into it now.

I finally had to walk inside- and get with the main group- the guys I’m really there for.

Shaky [the severe drinker- agnostic] has been coming to Timons almost every day.

He usually never goes.

But in the short few days I have known him- we have become friends.
So- I think he started going more to hang with me.

Good- that’s the way this stuff works- I’m not ‘preaching’ to these guys- no- they know my story- many of my drinking experiences they identify with- and this has been an open door.

Ok- let me do a little teaching- maybe finish it tonight.

Christianity is not simply ‘made up stories’ from some bible.

No- the history of Western Thought- Philosophy- ideas- all of the various World Views are imbedded with God- our concepts of God- and ask the ultimate question ‘where did all this come from- and why are we here’.

We usually trace the beginning of Ancient Philosophy to the 6th century BCE.

A thinker by the name of Thales sought to find ways to describe natural phenomena without the use of Greek Mythology.

Even though Philosophy deals with Metaphysics [things beyond the natural- physical realm- Physics] yet Thales wanted to find explanations for existence- without leaning on Myth.

He is considered a ‘Pre Socratic’ thinker [before Socrates] and espoused an idea that water was the key source of all things.

These guys were looking for a singular thing to explain stuff.
Sometimes referred to as a unified theory- the same thing that Einstein was seeking to find some 2 Millennia later.

So- Thales surmised that water was the key thing.

There are various ideas of why he came to this conclusion- but one reason might have been the idea of motion.

Many Geek thinkers were looking for the source of motion- where did it come from?

And to the natural eye- if you observe the ocean- rivers- etc. - there does seem to be no cause for the moving of water- so to these guys it seemed like water itself was the source- motion came from water.

Now- there were other religions who taught a sort of idea along these lines.

Some pagan religions said that the ‘god’s’ moved upon the water- and life came that way.

If you read the Christian account of creation in Genesis- you will notice that God did move upon the waters- and the account in Genesis does indeed say that he brought forth life from the water.

Thales came from for Miletus- in Asia Minor.

He was famous for the prediction of a Solar Eclipse that occurred on May 28th- 585 BCE.

The earliest account of this is found in the writings of Herodotus.
Thales is considered one of the 7 sages of the time.

Christianity was born at a time where Greek thought/ideas were a big part of society.

We do find the early apostles using the language/ideas of the Greek philosophers when describing the reality of Christ.

The apostle John refers to Christ as THE LOGOS- The word Logos- is a Greek word for ‘word’.

Jesus is called ‘the word of God’.

Now- the Greek thinkers were in fact seeking for the Logos- they used this term to describe the ultimate answer to all tings.
They were on a search for some Divine principle that could explain things.

So- the writers of the New Testament were in a way saying ‘look- we have found the Logos- the thing that you guys are looking for- it is Christ- the Divine Logos’.

We also see the apostle Paul debating with the Greek thinkers in the city of Athens [the seat of Geek philosophy- the city/state where Socrates was forced to drink cyanide].

In Acts chapter 17 he is preaching to these guys on Mar’s Hill- he says ‘In him we live AND MOVE and have our being’.
Now- today as we read this- we don’t get the full import of what he was doing.

But- to the Greek mind- the source of motion was a big thing.

Paul was a smart guy- and he was saying ‘in him we move’ showing that yes- the ‘source of motion’ [Thales water] is not found in the natural world [Physics] but the source comes from the Metaphysical world [God].

He also says ‘when I was walking thru your town- I saw one of your altars- to the unknown god’.

At the time many believed in a Pantheon of gods- and to cover their bases- they had an altar for any god they might have missed- smart thinking!

So Paul says ‘him I declare unto you’.
Notice how Paul was able to debate- converse with them- and at the end actually use their own ideas- to present the gospel.
In this chapter- Acts 17- we read of the only 2 groups of philosophers mentioned in the bible.

The Epicureans and the Stoics.

The Epicureans were an early form of what we call Hedonism today- the idea that pleasure is the principle purpose of man.

The Stoics believed in ‘stoicism’ that man should have no emotional response to pain or pleasure- that’s why we call people today ‘Stoics’- when they seem to not be moved by anything.

Ok- that’s it for now- might make some comments tonight- but I’m getting ready to fly out soon- and trying to wind down before I leave.
If I don’t write tonight- I’ll talk again when in North Bergen- God bless you all.

1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
1Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
1Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
1Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Corinthians 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
1Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
1Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

1Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
1Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
1Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
1Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1Corinthians 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1Corinthians 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
1Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
1Corinthians 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.

See? Paul the apostle had the intellectual capacity to engage with the best of them- but he knew that the core issue- was sin. That is those who reject Christianity on the basis of ‘it’s a religion of foolishness’- in reality- even if you win the intellectual argument- yet for the most part people will still not believe. In the end it is always a matter of true repentance- being honest with ourselves- and others. So- Paul didn’t rely on the ‘wisdom of men’ but the power of the Cross. When needed- he would ‘use it’ [men’s wisdom- Acts 17- Mars Hill] but he closed his argument by declaring Christ.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBook#] - I have posted lots.