Leaning Out Into The Wind

By Brian G. Bettes

The smoke stacks at the power plant I worked at were over 600 feet tall. We were building the coal-fired plant and we had to line the inside of both stacks with brick. There was a cable drawn elevator for hauling people, bricks, and mortar that went all the way to the top on the inside of the stack. One of the workers told me, “If you stand out on the edge of the stack on top, the wind is so strong that you can lean out into the wind and not fall.” Visions of what would happen if the wind stopped raced through my mind, but, I guess there was no real danger of that happening in Wyoming. I never tried it because I was not allowed on the elevator. But, crazy as it may seem, I always wanted to. As a young man, I was a risk-taker. It is amazing I have lived as long as I have.

I was thinking about that the other day and asking myself, “How often do we do dangerous things with regard to sin, and think it is kind of fun, or get a thrill out of it?” Do we like to get as close to the edge of sinning as possible “without sinning” (or so we think), then “lean out into the wind,” hoping nothing will happen? Are we spiritual risk-takers? Or do we try to stay as far away from “the edge” of sin as we can get?

During this time of year, as I prepare for taking the Passover symbols established by our Savior, I have been focusing on sin and its effects in my life. Sin caused my Elder Brother and Savior, Jesus the Messiah, to have to die. Even one single sin by any human being was enough for Him to have to die as the sinless sacrifice, if that human was to be given eternal life. That gives me pause for thought. How cavalier am I with sin? Do I sometimes take the approach of, “Well, I know I am human, but Jesus died, so God will forgive me?” It hurts my heart to realize that I have made that statement all too often in my life. What about you? Are you casual with sin?

Many times, I have heard people say (one of those people saying it was me), “Of course, we will never be perfect in this life.” That statement is offered up almost as if it is an excuse to not really put that much effort into fighting sin. Do we really want to eradicate sin from our lives? Or do we just “accept” that, because we are human, we don’t have to struggle mightily against Satan or overcome the world around us that is under his influence or our own human nature? Yet, are we not told to not love this world (1 John 2:15-17), and to come out of it so as not to partake of its sins (Revelation 18:4)?

Let’s talk about 1 John 2:16, which says, “Because everything that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pretentious pride of physical life—is not from the Father, but is from the world” (Coulter, emphasis mine). Most translations use the word “all” where this one uses “everything.” Same essential meaning, but I just like the emphasis that it places on everything; not some things, not a few things, not most things, but e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that is of this world that is not of the Father. It is all encompassing and total. Nothing is left out. Then John goes on to identify, in three basic groups, what everything includes: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.

What we must ask ourselves is, are we in tune with our Father’s and Brother’s idea of what this means. We should be examining every area of our lives, asking ourselves whether we are striving to be righteous as They are righteous (1 John 3:7), or are we trying to get as close to the world, or sin, as we can without falling into the abyss?

What about our words? Does our speech reflect Jesus and our Father when we talk to others, or is it laced with profanity, course jesting, or maybe even sexual innuendo? Is our language clean and pure as Jesus’ was, or do we make excuse for, or even worse, not care much about what comes out of our mouths? I am embarrassed to say, as the old adage goes, “Been there done that.” There are no excuses one can legitimately give God as to why that kind of behavior is okay!

What about how we dress? Do we like, or even wear, tight-fitting or revealing clothing that leaves little or nothing to the imagination? Do we wear suggestive clothes that would cause members of the opposite sex to use their imagination? Have we bought into the influence of Satan regarding dress to where we think showing a lot of skin is okay? Have we bought into the societal thinking that, if we wear clothes that are suggestive, and members of the opposite sex have to avert their eyes, that the problem is with them; that we have no responsibility in that situation? This applies to both men and women. We have to ask ourselves whether Jesus Christ approves of what we are wearing, not what our friends or society around us thinks. Basing our thinking on what anyone but God thinks is what got this world in to the mess it is in.

We should apply this mindset to every part of our lives; what we eat, how we interact with each other, how we drive…again, everything! Second Corinthians 10:5 says we are to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Again—every thought. Not just a few, or some, but every thought!

Did Jesus play with sin? Did He try to get as close as possible to sin? When dealing with Satan during His temptation, though Satan was quoting Scripture and the words he used were true, Jesus did not buy into any part of Satan’s proposals, staying as close to the real meaning and intent of His Father’s word, and as far away as possible from sin (Matthew 4:4,7,10). No, I think the example we see is that He stayed as far away from it as He could. He left us a clear example of how we are to use God’s Word to live our lives (Hebrews 4:12). Satan is the father of lies, and is a master at twisting God’s words from truth into something that sounds good, but leads to death (Genesis 3:4-5).

When it comes to sin, if Jesus was not willing to stand on the edge and lean out into the wind, neither should we.


Showing The Face Of Our Father

By Brian G. Bettes

Every boy looks up to his father, and when he is young, wants to be just like him. I believe that is something that God placed into boys. Boys want to be like their father, and girls want to be like their mother. Unfortunately, as boys become young men, and girls become young ladies, all too often they don’t want to emulate their parents. Why is that? Because Satan is trying to destroy the family, and because as humans we are imperfect.

Many parents today aren’t good role models, or are the role models of the wrong things, and thus emulating our parents may or may not help us. But like it or not, we still turn out to be a lot like our parents. In today’s world, which belongs to Satan, this can be either good or bad. But from a Biblical perspective, God intends that, once we become one of His children, we are to emulate Him.

Consider these words from Jesus who said, “If you had known me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” When pressed further to see the Father by Philip, He said, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’” (John 14:7-9)?

Jesus made it clear that He and the Father were one during His stay here on earth. He also requested of the Father that His followers, including us, would be one with Them during our stay here on earth (John 17:20-21). But notice why He wanted us to be one with Him and our Father, “…that the world may know that You have sent Me, and loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23).

One of Jesus’ responsibilities while walking among men was to reveal to the world the Father (Luke 10:22); which He did (John 17:4, 6-8). If that was Jesus’ responsibility while on earth, and we now have the same Father, and we are to follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21), what do you suppose our responsibility is now that we know the Father (John 17:18)?

When silver is refined to its purest state it produces a perfect image of the refiner on the surface. This is how the refiner knows that there are no longer any impurities, called dross, left in the silver. We are told that, because we are the sons of God, we are to purify ourselves as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3). The apostle Peter admonishes us to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Jesus told us that we are to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

All of this indicates that we are to reflect the same holiness, the same righteousness that our Father is…note I did not say has, but IS! Our Father is righteousness and holiness. That is the “stuff” that He is made of. It is not just something that he has, like a possession that one owns. There is a difference. Is this what we are becoming? Are we becoming pure as He is pure?

At creation, God did not give animals any responsibility except to multiply (Genesis 1:22). On the other hand, mankind was given three responsibilities:

be fruitful, multiply, replenish, and subdue the earth;
have dominion over the animal life (Genesis 1:28);
dress and keep the Garden (Genesis 2:15).

Animals were not given these responsibilities. Though they were to multiply, they were not given the responsibility, or even the capability, to subdue (tread down, subjugate), have dominion over (rule), or “dress and keep” (maintain) the earth. That is because animals were created for a different purpose than man.

We were created in God’s image, or resemblance (Genesis 1:26-27). But “looking like” Him (head, hair, eyes, mouth, arms, hands, chest, torso, legs, feet) is not the only likeness we bear of Him (Revelation 1:13-16 and many verses in Daniel and Ezekiel give a description of God’s form.) In addition, we were given a spirit that no other created creature on earth has—the power of intellect, or as some call it, the spirit in man (Job 32:8). This spirit gives us the ability to think, reason, gather information, evaluate that information, make decisions, plan, design, and build. In short, we were given, on a limited physical basis, God’s ability to create.

No animal on earth can design a house, or a building, or a city, much less build it once it has been designed. No animal can think and reason the way man can. That ability—that power of intellect—is unique to mankind, and it is a part of what it means to be made “in the image of God.” However, even with that special capability, we are not complete.

Mankind was created to become the very Sons of God, just as Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 8:16-17; 1 John 3:2). But for that to happen, man needed yet another Spirit. When God created man, He gave him the spirit of intellect, and along with it, free will. What does that mean? It means man can make his own decisions on how to live. However, God also gave him a choice. Adam and Eve could choose to live God’s way, or they could choose to follow Satan (Genesis 2:16-17). We all know that story, and we all know what they chose to do, don’t we?

God never at any point gave mankind the authority to determine what is right and what is wrong. Those determinations have been left solely in the realm of God. However, man, influenced by Satan, decided to try to take that authority upon himself (Genesis 3:17), just as Satan tried to do once before (Isaiah 14:13). The result of that one bad decision has caused innumerable mountains of grief for mankind ever since.

But God, knowing mankind would make that mistake, had created a way out for him (1 Peter 1:18-20). Once Jesus Christ came, through repentance from living a life against God, acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice in place of the death penalty that is the sentence for sin, baptism as a symbol of burying the old way of life (“the old/former, man”), and the laying on of hands (Hebrews 6:1-2), mankind could receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Upon these conditions, God places His Spirit within a repentant believer (Acts 2:37-39).

That Spirit is a part of God Himself. Just like a human male sperm cell is a part of the father from whom it came, the Holy Spirit is a tiny part of God Himself (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). It is then, and only then, that the believer can start to understand, think, and little-by-little, act like God (1 Corinthians 2:9-14). The Holy Spirit begins to transfer to us the Divine Nature of the one and only Holy God (2 Peter 1:3-4). Over a lifetime of surrender, as God begins to test the heart through fiery trials, the continuously repentant believer can be more and more refined to think and act like our Father, just as Jesus did in the flesh (1 Peter 4:12-13). As God refines us, eradicating the “dross” of sin from our lives by surrendering to Him more and more, like the silver, we become purer and purer each day (Psalm 66:10).

For us to be a part of His Family, God must be satisfied that we will want to only live as He lives, with no thought or desire for anything else. He must be satisfied that pure righteousness, which is what He is, is what we want for all of eternity (1 John 3:3). So only when He can “see His own reflection” in us, will we be ready to take on that incredibly awesome position of responsibility in His Family. God is composed of pure righteousness, and anyone who will be a part of His Family must also be composed of pure righteousness. As the Refiner, He is the only One who knows for certain when we are “finished.”

The Bible says that Jesus is the “brightness of glory,” and, “the express image” of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). He is our example and we are to follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21). As we become closer to our Father through Jesus our brother; and as we are refined by God to become more like Him, others should be able to see Him emanating out from us more each day. As Jesus said about Himself, we should be getting closer to being able to say, “If you have seen me, you have seen my Father.” As we draw closer to God by allowing His Spirit to live in and through us, we should be showing the face our Father!

The Giving and The Being

by Brian G. Bettes

This coming Sunday evening at sunset, many of us will memorialize the death of our Savior by taking the symbols of the New Testament Passover. We will meet, quietly and reflectively, to review the meaning of these symbols, and participate, by washing one another’s feet (John 13:3-17), eating unleavened bread, and drinking what amounts to a sip of wine (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), to commemorate the killing of Jesus Christ as the perfect, sinless sacrificial Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 3:5), slain for the sins of mankind (John 1:29; Revelation 5:9). It is the celebration of a very sobering, yet triumphant event. Jesus died so that the rest of us might have life – real life – eternal life (1 John 2:2; John 6:40)! Continue reading

FOX’s Book of Martyrs

Fox's Book of MartyrsJohn Fox’s famous book detailing the lives, sufferings and triumphant deaths of the early Christian as well as Protestant Martyrs. Edited by William Byron Forbush This is a book that will never die — one of the great English classics. . . .

Fox’s Book of Martyrs is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Reprinted here in its most complete form, it brings to life the days when “a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid,” “climbed the steep ascent of heaven, ‘mid peril, toil, and pain.” “After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.”

Are You a Tolerant Christian?



We hear a lot today about “tolerance.” Tolerance has become a buzzword in newscasts, entertainment, educational institutions, and casual conversation. You can hardly open a newspaper or turn on your TV without being confronted with calls for a more tolerant society. The pressure is also on individuals to push the limits of personal tolerance to unprecedented heights. We are conditioned to feel guilty if we do not tolerate the latest fad or social change. Continue reading

90 Facts About God





The first recorded question in all the Bible was asked by the Adversary in Genesis 3:1 where he asked simply, “Yea, hath God said…?” His purpose was to cast doubt upon God’s WORDS. Today the same adversary continues to cast doubt upon God’s Word, but through more sophisticated means and through human agents. In modern times he has raised up “scholars” and theologians who “interpret” God’s Word in pedantic nomenclature. Every trade or profession invents a vocabulary to set it apart from other trades and professions. Doctors, lawyers, scientists and, yes, modern–day Pharisees invent words that shut out “outsiders,” who must then come to them and pay exorbitant fees and years of time to learn their trade to be accepted into that field. After all, it is reasoned, if a Biblical “scholar” uses terminology like hypostasis, the hypostatic union of Christ, or the hypostatic theory of the nature of God, he must be“exceedingly godly and knowledgeable” and one is immediately placed in an immediate psychological disadvantage and is often hard pressed to cope. The natural reaction is to just throw up one’s hands in confusion and reason that such scholarship is too far above him and to close one’s mind down and blindly accept whatever such “scholars” spoon feed them. Hence the phrase, “Just smile and check your brain in at the door.” Additionally, there is the peer pressure of “everybody else is going along with it and who am I?” Continue reading

Twelve Things God Cannot Do




Just believe, and you shall be saved,” the blustering, huffing, puffing, perspiring preacher bawled at his audience. “With God, all things are possible,” he urged as he launched into a sermon alleging that God’s laws were “done away”—“nailed to the cross,” and that “God is love,” and that we all abide in “eternal security” as long as we “just love one another.” Sound familiar? Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Doctrine

Warning SignsThere is one subject most of Christendom shies away from. Most hesitate to even discuss it. In fact, in many circles it is a “taboo” subject. “Don’t talk about that,” many protest, “because it will upset and divide people! Mercy! You’ll get into arguments and offend someone! Tell us smooth things! Prophesy deceits.”

Oh, really? Let’s take the dare. Let’s talk about doctrine.


Doctrine has become a controversial word these days. Comparatively few Christians wish to discuss the dreaded topic of doctrine. It may not be “politically correct.” Perhaps it is because so many are unsure of themselves. Many, who do not even know the Scriptures, are unwilling to look into them to see what the Bible really says.

The word “doctrine” is not something to be feared or avoided. Doctrine simply means a “teaching,” or that which is taught by a religion or political party.

The word comes from the Latin doctrina, meaning a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings, especially when used in a religious sense. We derive our word “doctor” from this word. The Greek word didache [διδαχη did-akh-ay’] is translated “doctrine” 51 times, and “doctrines” five times in the kjv.

It is unfortunate that doctrine has been made out to be “the bad guy” in many Christian circles today. A sure way to cloud true doctrine is to bury it in false doctrine. Some view the word “doctrine” as almost a “curse” word. “Doctrine divides,” they parrot. “Don’t get into a doctrinal discussion, or you’ll get into an argument.” It would be difficult, indeed, to get them to sit down at a table with open Bibles and discuss various teachings of the Bible. People, by nature, do not want to change—they want to believe what they want to believe.

Perhaps the most frustrating challenge a Christian faces is trying to teach the Gospel to a person who has a closed mind. All too often we meet a person with an attitude that shouts, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!” In other words, “It does not matter whether or not what you say is true, I am going to believe and do what I want.” Or, “What would my friends or family think if I suddenly change my beliefs?” Some appear to have minds like concrete—all mixed up and permanently set. You can point to many Scriptures; you can provide examples from the New Testament; you can quote the very words of Jesus, yet such a person will remain unmoved. Such an attitude would be almost humorous if it were not so sad. We need to understand this is the way of the world, so learn not to be discouraged. It is a true saying regarding the devil, “… that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.”

Strangely, many people do not know or even want to know what their own church teaches! Theirs is more of a “Christian” fellowship group. Instead of being taught sound doctrine, they would rather have their church, priest, pastor, or teacher provide them with music, meals, or entertaining stories. They would rather be told how Jesus loves them, that all they have to do is say the sinner’s prayer and be assured they are saved now and forever as long as they pay, pray, stay, and obey. “Teach us s-m-o-o-t-h things,” they say (Isaiah 30:10). Preach love. Preach Christ and Him crucified… but don’t talk doctrine to me.”

And yes, it is true; Bible doctrine does divide. Correct doctrine divides truth from error! Many were astounded at Christ’s doctrine: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine (Matthew 7:28; 22:33; Mark 1:22; 11:18; Luke 4:32; John 7:16).

Christ said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34–38kjv throughout). This is because following true biblical doctrine will set you apart from commonly believed teachings about God and the Bible. It might even set you apart from the false teachings of your congregation.

The buzzwords of this generation are experience, feeling, and perception. “If it feels good, do it” is the criteria. “If it tastes good, eat it. If you feel like it, say it.” However, the Bible teaches, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12;16:25).

For example, as the “charismatic wave” sweeps over country after country, these or similar words are often parroted: I’ve been baptized in the Holy Ghost and you haven’t.I have spoken in tongues, and you haven’t. So don’t talk to me about doctrine, because Iknow! I’ve been under the power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost teaches me all I need to know about doctrine. He shows me what is right and what is wrong. It’s experience that counts, not some outdated doctrine.”

It’s time we set the record straight on the vital issue of doctrine! Let’s talk about doctrine.

Why Is Doctrine So Important?

Doctrine is indispensable to Christianity. True Christianity cannot exist without it. The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes the value and importance of sound doctrine, sound instruction (1 Timothy 6:3), and a pattern of sound teaching (2 Timothy 1:13–14). The apostles defended the faithful proclamation of the Gospel (Galatians 1:8). They coached Christian faith in doctrinal terms, then called for its preservation.

God asks through the prophet Isaiah, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9–10).

Your Bible reveals there are the doctrines of Christ (Hebrews 6:1) and doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1). In other words, there are true doctrines and false doctrines!

Studying true doctrine is nothing less than a study of the law, mind, and character of God Himself. We are to put on the very mind—teaching, doctrine—of Christ Himself (Philippians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 2:16). That is, we are to learn to think and act as Jesus Christ thinks and acts.

Turn to 1 Timothy, chapter four, verses one through four in your own Bible. It reads, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly [distinctly], that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

A few more man-made beliefs or doctrines we see dividing Christians today include the rapture and the timing of the rapture, young-earth vs. old-earth creationism, charismatic vs. non-charismatic, premillennialism vs. amillennialism, speaking in tongues, women preachers, eating in a restaurant on the Sabbath, Sabbath verses Sunday, the world’s holidays vs. God’s holy days, “soul-sleep” vs. the immortal soul, when is one born again, did Mary have other children, who, what, is the devil, is Jesus merely a created being, is Jesus God, is God a trinity, or a divine family, and many more.

These are all doctrines held by various professing Christian groups!

The doctrines of the Church of God International are summed up in our “Statement of Beliefs,” and are taken from the Bible itself. Send for your free copy of our Statement of Beliefs today. Our beliefs are explained in capsulated form and are backed up by many, many scriptures. You may wish to copy or chain reference them in your own Bible. The Bible alone is God’s written revelation to man, not feelings, not tradition, not doctrinal creeds of menNo doctrine is based on a single scripture. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Be sure to request our free booklet, How to Study Your Bible for the rules of Bible study and information on how to mark your Bible.

Bible doctrine is so important that the apostle Paul warned, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel [or any other doctrine or teaching]: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert [change] the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel [teaching] unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed”(Galatians 1:6–9). Isaiah 8:20 tells us, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” 2 John 10 confirms, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.”

Teachers who attempt to siphon off some of God’s people must first open the door of their minds. They often come under the guise of “new understanding,” “new truth,” conviviality, and ecumenism. Political correctness has conditioned the majority of people to defend this supposed “open-mindedness” by saying we should not “judge” others but should have a spirit of “love” and “be more Christ-like,” etc. The basic idea is that we should seek fellowship among various groups and compromisei.e., by ignoring differences in doctrine and practice, by putting everything we believe “on the table.” Beware! Do not become so “open-minded” that your brains fall out!

The Deadly Dangers of False Doctrine

Let’s test our memories:

  • Has anyone followed the case of Andrea Yates—the woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub because it was “God’s will?” The foundational issue she was grappling with was a false understanding—false doctrine!—of who and what God is! She stated that her desire was to kill her children so they would be kept from falling into Satan’s hands if they grew up, and to punish herself for being a bad mother. What else would cause this if not false doctrine—a falseunderstanding of God?

  • Or take the case of Jim Warren Jones, leader of the Peoples Temple Christian Church-Disciples of Christ. On the evening of November 18, 1978, in Guyana, Jones ordered his congregation to drink a concoction of cyanide-laced, grape-flavored Kool-Aid. In all, 918 people died, including 276 children. It was the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001. What was the basic error? False belief! False doctrine!

  • Or the case of Marshall Applewhite Jr. of the Heaven’s Gate group, who led 38 of his followers to wear purple clothing and eat the poisoned purple pudding of death! He preached that suicide would allow them to leave their bodily “containers” and enter an alien spacecraft hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet. Again, the culprit is misinformation—false doctrine!

  • Or take the case of mother Eve: She listened to the subtle voice of the serpent and was persuaded to take of the forbidden fruit. Why? Because she listened to the devil’s lie. He promised her additional benefits. She gave way to false doctrine!

Christ warned repeatedly about false teachers, false prophets, and false doctrine:

Matthew 24:5: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” In verse 11, He said, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”

Also Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” How? By lies—by false doctrine!

Yet again, Christ warned His followers, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15).

Continue reading