Open The Blinders

2 Corinthians 5:16

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

One of the biggest things I have been challenged with this year is how I view others. How I view the stranger I walk by in the store, the cashier at the checkout, the random person driving by, and just about every individual I encounter. What I noticed was, how my attitude toward people changes depending on where I am. At church it’s easy to be loving and welcoming, but outside of church, it’s so easy to assume the worst about everyone. It’s easy to forget that they, just like myself, are a child a God.

The first time I was convicted of this was while listening to the song ‘Ever Be’ when the line, “Let Your praise ever be on my lips” played. I thought about how that would effect my relationships, strangers on the street, the cashier, the person driving by, etc. That’s when I began to realize, that everyone is a child of God, and everyone is loved by Him. It’s my job to be intentional with others and show them that love that Christ first gave me.

And it’s hard.

What’s easy is to forget about the strangers at the store, to walk by them without a second thought, to go on with the day rushing to the next thing. It’s the unspoken rule to not talk to strangers in public, we all act as if we want to be left to our own regards and people are just an expensive you can’t afford to spend time on. I know I’m guilty of it.

But Christ keeps reminding me, “See that person, yup, I love them. See that one, yup, I love them too. That one over there, yup, that’s my child as well.” I believe it’s not only our job to stop evaluating others from a human point of view, but to go a step further and start evaluating others from Christ’s point of view.

The story of the cross is not a story about Jesus, but rather a story about how much God loves us and what He will do to reach each and everyone of us. Loving others is a blessing that we get to be apart of. And at times, yes it’s hard, you just want to do your own thing. But when we can take a minute to step back, and allow God to work in us, to allow God to let us view others the way He views them, we allow love to come into us. And love covers a multitude of wounds. Not just others wounds, but even your own.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (Emphasis Mine)

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

We’ve been given this task of reconciling people to Christ, we are Christ’s ambassadors, we speak for Christ.

I guess, what I am wondering is this, what would happen if we would open up our eyes and heart, to see everyone you see, everywhere you see them, as Christ sees them. There’s so many people who are hurting, who are just slipping through the cracks. I can’t even imagine what a simple smile, or hello could do for them. What if you were more courteous to the cashier or server, then they are to you? They might be trying to sell you a product, or gain your favor for a large tip, but you have the opportunity to give them God’s gift. How much greater is that?

I think because we are not getting persecuted everyday, being killed, that we forget how great of a message and how important of a message we have.

Let go of the binders and share the light with all.

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God Knew, But Still Did

2 Timothy 1:9

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

That was His plan from the beginning of time. Before He created us, He knew we would fail Him.

I want to look at this verse backwards.

I look at the words, “to show us His grace” and I can’t help but be reminded of a child. A child who loves his family, draws them a picture during school, awaits all day to go home and show them this picture, and then most importantly, the joy and excitement the child has when showing their parents the picture. The parents naturally love the drawing, not because of the artistry of the photo, but because they can see their child’s love and joy through the photo.

I feel like this is God. He’s so excited to show us His grace, He loves to love us. Why? What have we done to win God’s approval? We haven’t done anything, He just naturally deeply loves us and invites us into His shelter. It’s like the kind of love and joy a child shows to its parents, but God’s love goes even further. That’s pretty neat.

Accepting that by the words “beginning of time” refers back before creation (who knows this could simply mean a long long time ago) God knew we would fail Him. Even if “beginning of time” doesn’t mean what I think it does, we can agree that God can do all things, and therefor there’s no reason He wouldn’t have known we would fail Him. So God knew we would fail Him, He knew what it would cost, but He still went through with it. Why? I’m always asking, why God. I can’t grasp the simply why. That love is simply so great. But I don’t have to be able to concept it for it to be true, it is whether or not I/we/you understand it or not. What I think is also super cool is that since God knew we would fail Him 1) He still created us, 2) He made a plan according to our failure, 3) God used what was closest to Him to fix our failure. God already gave you what was closest to His heart to save you. He will use anything He has to, to bring you into His kingdom, you just have to accept Him. We have a hard time sacrificing our comforts and needs/wants for God, but God went right ahead and sacrificed His Son for us. Wow, God is so much greater than I. It’s really cool to sit back and reflect about everything you’ve done, all your short comings, all your failures, all your sins and realize God knew about them before He created you, but He loves you so much He want on ahead and created you anyways AND He gave you a chance at redemption. And to give you this chance, He went ahead and did the hard part for you and sacrificed His son, He knew you wouldn’t be able to upkeep the law, He knew you wouldn’t deserve it, so He went ahead and did all that for you, and in return asks for your heart. Giving Him your heart is the greatest thing you can do, because this is a God so full of love for you. That’s beautiful. In short, God knows about whatever shameful thing it is that you’ve done, but He saw it before you wore born, but He asks for you anyways.

We don’t deserve this. Not even in the slightest. But God knows that and and saved you anyways. In the end, your past is God’s trophy. Not because your past is pretty, but because it’s a place you can look at and be thankful for all that God has done for you and what He has saved you from.

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. You didn’t save yourself, God saved you. And now calls you to live a holy life. Devoted to God. Why? Because on our own, we tend to find ourselves chasing wind, never satisfied. But being devoted to God gives you access to His love and peace into your life. Knowing what God has done for me, I can’t help but think of a better way to live my life.

Psalms 91:1

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Hey, Listen!

I really just want to go through the book of Joel, and take what seems to be key verses to me and talk about them.

The first 15 verses of chapter 1 can be summed up with Joel 2:3

Before them fire devours,
    behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
    behind them, a desert waste—
    nothing escapes them.

The Lord is warning them of judgement day. This verse is telling us how devastating the Lord’s army is going to be. Until His army comes, everything is going to be grand, we are going to be enjoying the pleasures of the earth in all its beauty. But when the Lord passes through, everything behind Him will be destroyed into a waste. There is nothing His army won’t cover. It will bring disaster to all. Going back a few verses, to Joel 2:1

Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem;
    shout a warning on my holy mountain.
Let all the people who live in the land shake with fear,
    because the Lord’s day of judging is coming;
    it is near.

Shake with fear. This reminds of the moment when you get to class, the toughest one, the one you really need that A in, and you get to class to realize everyone has on their desk an important assignment to turn in that you forgot to do. Fear strikes you hard, you panic quickly think how you can resolve this. Maybe you can leave class now before the professor comes. Maybe I won’t say anything and the professor won’t notice. You think to yourself, how in the stinkin world could I forget about this assignment?!

But now take this another step forward, you’re living your life, maybe on your way to work, to school. to the gym, on the way home, which ever, and this trumpet blows from the sky. Close your eyes and imagine this. Then this voice comes shouting from the sky, “Judgement day is coming next week. Prepare yourselves!” Imagine that fear. What’s the first thought that comes to mind? Whatever your thought is, I want to ask, how in the stinkin’ world could you forget that God said there will be a judgement day?!

Joel 2:6-11 describes what God’s army will be like.

When they see them, nations shake with fear,
    and everyone’s face becomes pale.

 They charge like soldiers;
    they climb over the wall like warriors.
They all march straight ahead
    and do not move off their path.
 They do not run into each other,
    because each walks in line.
They break through all efforts to stop them
    and keep coming.
 They run into the city.
    They run at the wall
and climb into the houses,
    entering through windows like thieves.

 Before them, earth and sky shake.
The sun and the moon become dark,
    and the stars stop shining.
 The Lord shouts out orders
    to his army.
His army is very large!
    Those who obey him are very strong!
The Lord’s day of judging
    is an overwhelming and terrible day.
    No one can stand up against it!

In terms of an army, God’s army is extremely disciplines and follow orders exactly to how they were given them. There is nothing that can stand in the way of God’s army. No amount of human effort or advancement can get in His way. On top of that, it says in front of His army “the sun and moon become dark, and the stars stop shinning.” Even if you were to try and fight it, there is no light to see. Total darkness. Everything will be destroyed without a trace. It’s kind of an overwhelming thought.

I love what it says next though in Joel 2:12-13

The Lord says, “Even now, come back to me with all your heart.
    Fast, cry, and be sad.”

 Tearing your clothes is not enough to show you are sad;
    let your heart be broken.
Come back to the Lord your God,
    because he is kind and shows mercy.
He doesn’t become angry quickly,
    and he has great love.
    He can change his mind about doing harm.

God never threatens us without giving us a way out of His wrath. So now, you’re sitting in class, you decided to stay, the professor sees that you forgot to do your assignment. He says to you, “Son, why have you not followed my instructions? I told you the first day of the semester of the assignment, I have warned you every week since, and here you have not done it. According to my syllabus, I am going to have to give you a zero.” And, rightly so. Yes, you may have gotten to busy, things got in the way in you just forgot about it, sure your grandmother may have died last week, but the professor warned you from the beginning of the assignment.

Coming back to the trumpet in the sky, to the voice shouting that next week is judgement day. What’s your excuse to why you haven’t been living right with God? Fortunately for you, God is given each and everyone of us a second chance. “Come back to me” He says! “With all your heart.”Come.

He says, “Tearing your clothes is not enough to show you are sad; let your heart be broken.” I think sometimes we like to pretend we are upset about our wrong doings, I think sometimes we like to make a cover of us being sad so that maybe we feel better about ourselves, so that maybe others are more easily to forgive you. But God is telling us, He doesn’t care about our physical attributes of being sad, let your heart actually be broken. When was the last time your heart was broken? Do you love that Lord so much that even the slightest sin against Him cuts you deep? Or are you like me, more adapted to my sins, kinda brush over them. As long as you say you are for God, it’s all okay right? As long as you are happy and having fun right? As long as you aren’t upsetting or doing harm to others right? I think sometimes we forget and simply can’t imagine how much God loves us and how much pain it costs Him when we sin. Maybe your sins are no big deal to you, but to God, it cost His Sons’ life.

Let your heart be broken and come back to the Lord your God. “He is kind and shows mercy.” “He has great love.” Unlike our professor who is simply following his syllabus and the rules of the university, God can and will give you a second chance. Judgment day doesn’t have to be a bad day for you, it can be the greatest day of your life. Turn back to Him.

Joel 2:14

Who knows? Maybe He will turn back to you and leave behind a blessing for you..

So God comes through and destroys all life and everything around you, BUT who knows, maybe He will turn back and leave a blessing for you. This verse isn’t saying He will turn around, but it implies hope. A blessing from the Lord is greater than anything we can conceive ourselves. Here Joel is simply stating, sure everything may get destroyed in your life, but God can still turn around and bless you and your land. There’s nothing He can’t bless.

Joel 2:18-19

Then the Lord became concerned about His land and felt sorry for His people. He said to them: “I will send you grain, new wine, and olive oil, so that you will have plenty. No more will I shame you among the nations.”

Boom, God’s grace. We can rebel all we want against God, but He still feels sorry for His people when disaster comes. What kind of love is this? So after destroying everything in our lives, He comes back and says I’ll give you everything brand new and will give you plenty!

Over all what I am seeing here, beyond judgement day, is a message about our hearts. Change your heart towards God, and He will restore you. He’ll make you brand new.

Psalm 51:17

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

What does God want? He wants you to come to Him, no matter how broken, so that He may forgive you and piece you back together. He wants to make your weaknesses your strong point.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Each time he[God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I[Paul] am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

And one more, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what’s been done, God can use it.

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

This is what I love about my God. He’s not asking me, or you, to be perfect, He’s asking us for our heart.  When you give God your heart, all His commands, The 10 Commandments, all the ‘rules’ change. It no longer becomes something you have to follow to be a good Christian. Rather it becomes something you desire to follow because you realize His love is greater than sin. You realize God didn’t create all His laws to give us an impossible to test or to keep us away from our pleasures, rather He was protecting us from the world. If you sit down and consider the 10 commandments, look at them from a perspective that they are there to protect you, rather than a list of rules to follow and break. Watch as you realize the 10 commandments are a sign of His love for us, rather than wrath. They are there to protect, rather than take away.

God’s pretty cool. Come and give Him your broken heart. He won’t turn you away. He will only love you.

(Gonna start at verse 20 next time.)

Short Bit on Evangelism

One of the questions I have been struggling with for years is why should we evangelize? I know that we should, but I could never come up with a core answer that I was satisfied with. I wondered, should we evangelize because we love others and don’t want to see them go to hell, should we evangelize because we love God and want to share Him with others? Whereas I thought those were good answers, I wasn’t satisfied with them.

Just the other day I was thinking about it again, and it finally hit me. There are three things I know to be true about God, one, that He is a loving God, two, that He is a jealous God, and three, God cannot be in the presence of sin. What this means to me is this, God wants us all to be saved, He wants us all to enter an eternal relationship with Him, but God can’t have that because of our sin. God is so pure, and we are so sinful, that we would burn in His presence. That’s why He had to send His Son down as a sacrifice for our sin so that we can be made pure before Him. It is only through His Son that we can be made sinless before God. I believe that is also why we can’t have God dwell here among us in the flesh like we so often crave, we would burn in His presence. I believe that is another reason why Jesus had to be made human. I believe that is why the devil seems so powerful to us, because he is ‘god of this world,’ the devil can live in this sinful place.

Our God loves us so much though that despite our sins, He still wants to call us home to Him. That is why it is our job to evangelize. God’s actual presence would destroy us, so it is our duty to be His witness.

And how is this done?

Think of your favorite leader, or simply your favorite person. When you tell others about them, what do you tell them? Do we tell others how much they don’t like this, that or the other thing? Or do you tell them what that person does to make you appreciate them? Especially with a favorite leader, do you tell everyone the things they hate, or do you tell them about all the good things they do, do you tell them about all the qualities that make them a good leader? For me, when I have a favorite leader, I love telling other people about all the good qualities about them.

What I noticed about the bible and God, is I often see people tell everyone what the bible is against, what God doesn’t like, and why they need to change their ways. Why can’t we tell others about what God has done for us? Why can’t we tell others about the healing He has down in our hearts? The new life He has given us? The second chances He gives us daily? That He blesses us daily simply because He loves us? Why can’t we tell others more about what God has done for you personally instead of what God disapproves of? Everybody knows what the bible condemns, but nobody seems to know what God can do for us.

To Judge, or Not To Judge

In today’s day and age, nobody likes to be judged! We like to throw around the words and phrases, “Only God can judge me,” “how can you judge me, when you have a log in your own eye,” “judge not, and you will not be judged,” and “he who is without sin, throw the first stone.” We(as a society) absolutely hate being judged. But why? We’re afraid that what we are being judged for defines our character, and we are to high and mighty to accept others pointing out our mistakes. Thankfully as a Christian, I don’t have to worry about being defined by my mistakes. I am defined by the blood that was poured out on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins. I make mistakes all the time, and people most certainly notice my mistakes, but am I defined by them? Not a chance.

In the army, we take a lot of pride in our uniform and keeping it to the upmost standard. Someone, somewhere down the line decided that you can tell a lot about a man by his uniform. Because of that, you hear a lot of criticism by our peers and by our sergeants about how our uniform looks. They can get nit picky down to the smallest detail. It could be easy to ignore the criticism, especially from our peers because we don’t think they are any better than us and have no place to correct us, especially when they correct us with a bad attitude, or in a way that you don’t like. In the end, we have to look past the way they corrected us, and accept their words for what they are. Because when a superior notices that something about your uniform is messed up, he’s not going to care why it’s messed up, he’s not going to care that someone told you to fix yourself in a way that bothered me, all he is going to care about is that your uniform is messed up, end of the line no excuses.

We have to learn to accept criticism, even if it is delivered to you in a way you don’t like or hurts your feelings, because in the end, it is going to better you. Be thankful for it. I, personally, don’t want to be standing before God with Him asking me, “Josh my son, why did you not correct this sin of yours, I even sent someone to warn you about your sin?” and me responding with, “Sorry Father, but I didn’t like the way he told me I was wrong, it hurt my feelings.” Repeat that again, but place in your name and a sin/wrong someone has tried to correct you on.

In the end, being judged is a blessing when other’s call you out on your wrong. You’re not defined by your wrong doing, you’re defined by God. With others calling you out, you can be thankful that they’ve shown you the error of your way and you now have the opportunity to better yourself.

Who Are We To Judge?

1 Corinthians 5:12

For what have I to do with judging others? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside..

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Romans 2:4

..God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.

Check out these verse’s in the bible, read them in full context to see if you agree with me on this.

As a Christian, I believe we have no business judging those outside of the Church. In the end, what good is it? What is the end game of judging those outside of the Church? Where does it lead?

One of the reasons so many people are afraid of/stay away from religion is because they believe it is all about a set of rules you have to follow with incredibly high standards. We seem to teach the world that they have to give up everything that is fun, to follow God. We always seem so angry with the world. Why would anyone want to be a christian when we are so angry with the world and constantly bicker over God’s Law over what is right and what is wrong. We’ve all become such a slave to the Law without understanding what the Law is even there for in the first place. We’ve therefore taught the world, that following God is about following His Law.

To many people know God as a set of rules you must follow.. But  He’s so much better than that! He’s an eternal spring of joy and peace! The ‘rules’ are more than rules, they are keys! Keys to opening the door of joy and life! Nobody realizes that giving up earthly things actually brings you more happiness and freedom than what earthly things can provide. It’s a nice thought to think that God created the law to see how much you love Him by testing you with a set of rules. I used to believe that. But I’ve learned the God’s law is so much greater than that! God created His law to keep you free from everything that take you in as a slave, to keep you away from the things that make you feel empty inside. His Law is freedom. Just think for yourself everything that the world says is so fun, but God’s law says no to. Now think even deeper about why might God have said no. What is God protecting you from in each of His Laws?

When I look at sin, I don’t think of a set of rules, a list of what I can and can’t do. To me sin is simply a division from God. Anything that distracts or separates me from God is a sin. I’ve learned that everything that separates me or distracts me from God always causes pain in some sort of way.

When other’s call you out on the error of your ways, consider it a blessing. But please me careful about who you judge. Judging those outside the Church is pointless, it leads to nowhere. Instead, show love to those outside the Church, show kindness. It is God’s kindness that is meant to lead us to repentance. I can’t tell you how many times in my own life where I would think about God’s kindness and grace to me, and it would just lead me to repentance and inspire me to be closer to Him.

I’ve been blessed to be around an awesome college ministry. Something I have seen over and over again, is people will come check it out for whatever reason. They would have lots of ideas and lifestyles that you just couldn’t agree with, but they weren’t called out on for it. Instead they were shown love, God’s grace, and kindness. Next thing you know, they would return, then start reading the bible on their own, then commit their life to Christ, and God would work in them and show them in His Word what they are doing wrong and they would begin to change their ways. But it all started with love. God calls us to love those outside the Church, just like He has loved us.

Matthew 18:15-16

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

When you are to judge, those inside the church, don’t approach them like you are judging them to heaven or hell, show them in love and in private the error of their ways.

In the end, only God can truly judge you, but don’t forget that He actually IS going to judge you.

Living In A Place We Don’t Belong

Yesterday as I took a quick glimpse outside of the window, I realized a deep truth that the bible clearly states over and over again, I do not belong to this world. I belong to Christ.

John 15:9

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

I totally get that now!

Matthew 10:22

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

John 17:14

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

James 4:4

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Now with all that being said, I want to start this post over again. When we are not fitting in with this world it makes it easy to believe that there is something wrong with us, that we just aren’t right, something is wired wrong. Ultimately, the devil uses this truth to make us feel inadequate about ourselves. But no no no! We can’t allow ourselves to believe that!

The case of us not fitting in with this world is because we weren’t made for this world! “Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” isn’t what we are made for. But it goes beyond that. We were made to live for Christ and living for Christ means being hated by the world. It simply means not fitting in.

Why is it then that as humans our most basic emotional drive is to fit in, to be accepted but Christ calls us to be “hated” from the world? It’s confusing, it’s tough, and it definitely isn’t easy to deal with at times.

Matthew 12:20

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

I think that is the answer right there. God wants our love, but not just a part of it, He wants ALL of it!

Matthew 5:37

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Either love God or don’t, He doesn’t want us to love Him only when we are comfortable, He wants our love ALWAYS. He deserves our love always. Following God is a full time job plus more!

Revelation 3:15-16

‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

The conclusion that I see is that, following God comes with a price. That price is to be hated by the world! And if your heart can’t handle being hated by the world if you can’t give God your full heart, then He would rather have you just serve the world. You are either for the Lord, or against Him. No matter where you are, you can’t fool Him.

Genesis 18:15 (This verse makes me laugh)

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

God will call your bluff straight out, He knows. We were made for so much more than what this world has to offer. We don’t fit in, because we don’t belong to sin, we belong to Christ. With belonging to Christ comes not fitting in with the world. This forces us to have to trust in God always. We can’t trust the world because we know how sinful it is, we have to keep our eyes focused on Christ.

The world and all its lies will do it’s best to lead us always from Christ. It wants us feeling like we are inadequate. When we feel inadequate we have a harder time accepting Christ and His love and have a much easier time accepting the world. But the world only serves to tear us apart. It does it very successfully. And in the end, it leads to hell.

But Christ loves us, He wants us. He heals us. He takes away your pain. He gives you eternal life with Him, AWAY from sin! He has a joy that can only be achieved by following Him and trusting Him with ALL of your heart. The ache in the bottom of our heart that we cannot find from this world, can only be found in Christ. And that is because His love is never ending for us. His blood set you free.

Amen.

Confession # 7 (Revisited)

Original Post
Age: 16

I don’t trust God and that is what is stunting me, along with feeling that God doesn’t love me… (I’m from confession 7, I think). 😦


My Comment:

As before. I will pray. You understand how great our God is right? Everything there is in this world, and the universe was made by Him in the blink of an eye. He also suffered death for us all. He humbled himself and became man and was ridiculed for our sake. Now with all that in mind, why would He allow you to feel the way you do? This guy died for you, shouldn’t He be doing everything He could to protect you? Shouldn’t He be doing everything He can to make you feel loved? The truth is, He does love you. To ask anymore from Him is actually selfishness on our sakes, the guy died for us after all. He sees something in you that you don’t. He sees strength inside of you that you don’t even see. He sees a future for you that you can’t even imagine. The pain you go through now is only temporarily, it feels like forever, it feels never ending, like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, like there just isn’t an end. But it is all a place of growing so that you can shine light in other people’s tunnel down the road. You have to trust Him. If you can’t trust the God of the bible, who can you trust?


Confess your own confession at communionwithjesus.wordpress.com/confessions/