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Burning and Yearning
January 06, 2016

The Bible allows us to distinguish between two kinds of sexual desire, a pure and sinless sexual desire and an impure, sinful one. We can term these yearning and burning. Yearning is a legitimate sexual desire, the desire to explore and experience sexuality with a God-given spouse. Burning is an illegitimate form of sexual desire, the desire to explore and experience sexuality with someone who is not a God-given spouse (or, alternatively, to experience inappropriate or even perverse forms of sexuality with a God-given spouse). Sexual desire is at the heart of both, but yearning is the desire experienced in a pure way while burning is the desire experienced in a sinful way.

Yearning can be experienced by men and women, married and single. It can be prevalent or occasional, minimal or strong. It is the eagerness to respond to sexual desire in a self-controlled, God-honoring way. A husband may find himself lost in a daydream yearning to experience sexual intimacy with his wife. A single woman may find herself yearning for a husband so she can discover and experience sexual pleasure and fulfillment. These are not evil desires. They are natural, human desires. The first compels a husband and wife to enjoy sexual union while the second compels a single man or woman to pursue a husband or wife. For those who do not have a spouse or whose spouse is for some reason unavailable, yearning compels a deeper reliance on God, a deeper trust in his goodness and sufficiency.

Burning can also be experienced by men and women, married and single. It can be prevalent or occasional, minimal or strong. It is the longing to respond to sexual desire in a way that is not self-controlled and not God-honoring. A wife may find herself lost in a daydream, burning to experience sexual intimacy with someone who is not her husband. A single man may find himself burning with lust for a particular woman, objectifying her, idolizing sexual pleasure with her, as if that is his only hope for fulfillment. A married man may even badger and bully his wife to get what he is convinced he needs in that moment. These desires are evil. They are a perversion of God’s gift of sexuality.

I draw the distinction to show that there is a sexual desire that is good and honoring to God. We do not need to feel guilt for this desire or to feel that it is intrinsically wrong. It is a sexual desire that is yielded to the Lord. It is experienced, yet carefully controlled according to the Word of the Lord, channeled to appropriate ends—marriage, intimacy, or reliance upon God. But there is also a sexual desire that is not yielded to the Lord. It is experienced, yet without self-control and heedless to the Word of the Lord, channeled to evil ends. Both can be experienced by married men and women, and both can be experienced by single men and women.

This distinction matters. Owning the difference between yearning and burning allows us to see that not all sexual desire is wrong, even when experienced by someone who does not have a spouse. It allows us to see that not all sexual desire is good, even when experienced by someone who does have a spouse. It allows for sexual desire and even frustration, but without feeding it or being defeated by it. It allows for the desire for sexual nearness and fulfillment even without allowing that desire to degrade into sin.

Burning is desire perverted and unrestrained. Yearning is desire surrendered.

Daily Reading Links and Kindle Deals for Christians
January 06, 2016

There isn’t much to report by way of Kindle deals today, so we will just move on to some recommended reading. Here are some links you may find interesting:

Seven Reasons Not to Play the Lottery

John Piper lists them. I especially appreciate his first point: Playing the lottery is spiritually suicidal.

Significant Books for Pastors in 2015

Jeff Purswell rounds up some of last year’s especially notable books for pastors.

God’s Wonderful Plan for Your Life

Destinationism is the American myth: “God has a wonderful plan for your earthly life – He has a purpose for you. He has a destination for your life here and now, and when you reach it, all will be well.”

Across the Race Divide

Kevin DeYoung asks how America can bridge the deep race divide. “The short answer is: I don’t know. The slightly longer answer is that we can start by trying to understand what things look like from both sides. And by ‘sides’ in this case, I mean the law enforcement community and the African American community.”

The Universe in One Image

Here you go: It’s what the universe looks like from above, or below, or something. Whatever it is, it’s phenomenal. (Click here for a much bigger version of the graphic.)

This Day in 1850. 166 years ago today, preacher Charles Spurgeon became a Christian at the age of 16. *


CCEF Now 2016 features articles from four of our faculty members and an interview with one of our contract counselors—David Powlison, Ed Welch, Winston Smith, Alasdair Groves, and Melissa Clemens.” It’s free for the taking.

Nomads of Mongolia

This one is very interesting to watch: “Life in Western Mongolia is an adventure. Training eagles to hunt, herding yaks, and racing camels are just a few of the daily activities of the nomadic Kazakh people. I spent a few weeks living with them and experiencing one of the most unique cultures in the world. Saddle up and enjoy the ride.”


The opposite of joy is not sadness. It’s hopelessness. —Tim Keller

The ISIS Apocalypse
January 05, 2016

ISIS is a terrifying organization. Though it is based half a world away, its impact reaches to Europe, to North America, to everywhere. It has become the world’s problem, the world’s scourge. We see ISIS in the news on a nearly-daily basis, but where did it come from and what does it want? There are a handful of recent books that explain its origins, tell who its major players are, explain what it hopes to accomplish, and suggest how it can be defeated. I recently read two of these books and am glad that I did.

Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick is a great place to begin. Warrick, an award-winning reporter for The Washington Post, is a very skilled writer who weaves together a fascinating narrative, bringing a lot of life and interest to a subject that could be rather dull.

He tells of the rise of ISIS primarily by providing a biography of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man who served as architect of the movement. Zarqawi was Jordanian and had a long history of Islamic militancy. In the 1990s, he founded an organization called Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad that was committed to overthrowing the Jordanian government. Eventually, though, it grew to have much greater and more dangerous ambitions. Zarqawi was sadistic beyond belief and sadistic beyond what Al Qaeda was willing to tolerate, and he eventually alienated himself from even that organization. He was responsible for a long string of brutal murders (the most notable of which was the American diplomat Laurence Foley), suicide bombings, and beheadings. Zarqawi was so horrifically evil it comes as a relief to read about American missiles slamming into his safe house, ending his reign of barbarism.

Sadly, though, his organization would live on. It would undergo a series of name changes before it would settle on ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). Eventually Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would become its leader, a position he holds today. And ISIS would continue to expand their territory, soon becoming an actual state carved out of others. Warrick describes all of this in its sad detail. He also tells the tale from the fascinating perspective of the American and Jordanian counterterrorism experts who hunted Zarqawi and who now attempt to bring down the rest of the organization.

ISIS ApocalypseThe ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State by William McCants goes into much greater detail about the history and strategy of ISIS and, even more so, into the ideology that motivates it. In what is essentially a history of the movement, McCants ensures the reader knows that the ISIS leadership firmly believes that they are fulfilling Islamic prophecy. They believe that at the end of history there will be a new caliphate, an organization led by a man said to be the successor to Muhammad himself. This caliphate claims religious, social, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide. It looks forward to an Armageddon-like final battle that will usher in the last days. This doomsday vision is the reason so many Muslims from Europe, Africa, and elsewhere are joining in the battle—they do not want to miss out on these climactic events. Still others join simply to be part of the rape, pillage, and mayhem.

Where Al Qaeda and other organizations attempted to win the hearts of the people, ISIS rules by fear. It bullies, shoots, maims, and tortures its way into complete control of territory and populations. It justifies the enslavement and murder of non-Muslims and Muslims alike. McCant tells why this is and how its leaders justify this behavior, even while many other Muslims recoil at it. He tells of ISIS’ rise to power (with far less emphasis on Zarqawi and far more on his successors), suggests what the future may look like, and offers several ideas about how this brutal organization can be brought down.

With ISIS in the headlines every day, I wanted to know why this organization exists and what its leaders hope to accomplish. These books taught me that and more. My recommendation is to begin with Black Flags since it is the easiest to read and is very engaging. The ISIS Apocalypse nicely supplements it with its deeper examination and more formal tone. Between the two, you will receive a crash course on one of the world’s most pressing, brutal concerns.

Christian News Headlines Kindle Deals
January 05, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Essential Theological Terms by Justo Gonzalez ($3.99); The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves ($2.99); Theology and Practice of Mission by Bruce Ashford ($2.99); Which Bible Translation Should I Use? by Andreas Kostenberger ($2.99); The Community of Jesus by Kendell Easley ($0.99).

If you have read (or are reading) Do More Better, you may be interested in this Facebook Group. Over 1,000 people there are reading the book and applying its principles. If you’ve got questions, we’d love to help.

NIVAC Software

The NIV Application Commentary series is on sale for Accordance, WORDsearch, Olive Tree and Logos. (Logos users will need coupon code NIVAC16).

We Are Getting Closer

Yes, we are! “We are closer to faith becoming sight and the day when we will walk in Immanuel’s land. Think about this truth: with the turn of the calendar from 2015 to 2016 we are that much closer to dwelling in the everlasting kingdom of Christ!”

10 Resolutions for Christian Parents

Greg and Grace Gibson share 10 important resolutions.

The 12 Golden Rules of Email Courtesy

12 rules may be a few too many. But I appreciate this article from T. David Gordon. If we could all abide by these rules, the world would be a better place.

I’m Thinking It Over

Alan Jacobs discusses his decision to withdraw from social media.

This Day in 1743. 273 years ago today, George Whitefield and Welsh Calvinist Methodists formed the first Methodist association at Wadford, Wales. *

Top Ten Risks to the World

“The Eurasia Group’s annual list of the political and geopolitical trends that threaten stability focuses on the weak relationship between the US and Europe.”

Inside Out: Outside Edition

Here’s a fun one: Inside Out without all the “inside” stuff. What’s funny is that it still stands as a cohesive enough story of a girl adjusting to a new life.


It is better to fail in the eyes of the world than to succeed without the Lord. —Collin Hansen

Stop Reading Marriage Books
January 04, 2016

On a near-daily basis I receive emails from people asking me for book recommendations. When I feel equipped to give those recommendations, I am happy to share them (and even have a section of my site dedicated to this).

A little while ago I had a young man write to ask about books on marriage. He told me that he had recently become engaged and that he and his fiancée were eager to prepare themselves. They thought they would do this by reading all of the best books on marriage. He asked specifically for 6-8 books, and said that they intended to read each one of them. It was a noble request made for the best of reasons. But I think it was a mite misguided.

When it comes to books on marriage we are spoiled for choices. I can easily put together a list of 6 or 8 marriage books that are grounded in the Bible and full of godly wisdom. I could probably list another 6 or 8 that may not be quite as strong but still contain plenty of value. And then there are the myriad books that deal with the nuances of marriage—sex, romance, money, conflict, and on and on. Again, we are spoiled for choice and blessed beyond measure.

But it is possible to have too much of a good thing, or at least to partake of too much of a good thing. Reading 6 or 8 books on marriage before exchanging wedding rings may be too much of a good thing.

This is the counsel I gave that young man:

Read one or two books on marriage and maybe even read them out loud together. Consider The Meaning of Marriage and When Sinners Say ‘I Do’, perhaps. It may be wise to read, or at least have ready, a book like Ed Wheat’s Intended for Pleasure which can help with the intricacies and difficulties of the sexual relationship. (Many who don’t have a resource like that in the early days soon wish they did.)

After you’ve settled on your marriage books, find a book or two that address a specific sin or weakness in your life. Or, perhaps even better, books that will motivate you to grow in holiness. R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God always tops my list, with Jerry Bridges The Pursuit of Holiness right behind it. Read them too, either alone or individually. After all, personal holiness is a much better gift to bring your new spouse than extensive book-knowledge of the ins and outs of marriage.

And then stop reading and start inviting—stop with the marriage books and begin to invite yourself into the lives and homes of people whose marriage you admire. If you have a home of your own, invite couples into it. Otherwise, take the risk of inviting yourself into their home. Talk to these people and ask them about the joys and sorrows of marriage, the ups and downs of their relationship. Ask them how they met and married and what they remember of the early days of their marriage. Ask them how they resolve conflict and why they decided to have children right away or why they decided to wait. Ask them how they maintain their relationship today and what they would do differently if they had to do it all again. Talk about money and in-laws. Even ask them for counsel about a healthy sexual relationship if such questions seem appropriate. Learn from them. Best of all, follow-up with them weeks or months after your wedding—visit again and tell about the joys and difficulties you have experienced. Let them counsel and encourage you again.

Books are wonderful, and I believe strongly in the value of reading. Books on marriage can be wonderful, and I have benefitted from reading many of them. But the best and most helpful books on marriage are the ones being lived out by husbands and wives in your family, in your neighborhood, and especially in your church. Read them longer and more thoroughly than any other.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Daily News Headlines Kindle Deals
January 04, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include several by Paul Tripp for just $4.99 each: Awe (brand new!), What Did You Expect?Dangerous Calling, Sex and Money, Whiter than Snow, and A Shelter in the Storm ($2.99). Also consider Joy by Abigail Santamaria ($2.99) and Standing Strong by John MacArthur ($0.99).

Can We Sing Too Much About the Cross?

Bob Kauflin: “The more I’ve studied Scripture, the more I’m convinced that as we worship God for his word, his works, and his worthiness, the blazing center of our praise will always be the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus.”

The Reading Habits of a Latter-Day Puritan

J.I. Packer is regularly asked about the major books in his life, and the lists that he generates on those occasions fall into two categories—books that influenced him most and books that he reads every year.”

Timeline of the Twentieth Century

This is an interesting little timeline showing some of the noteworthy events of the last (and current) century.

Going to the Concert Alone

I enjoyed this celebration of friendship. “There is something about the nature of friendship. A friend calls from each of us something unique. Friends bring things out of us that otherwise wouldn’t come out. Friends embellish our experiences. We simply were not made to live life alone.”

This Day in 1965. 51 years ago today, T. S. Eliot died. Eliot was the most influential English poet of the twentieth century and was part of the Church of England. *

God Has a Reason

This is both true and important: Saying that God has a reason for everything doesn’t mean you know what that reason is.

And Then There Were None

The Economist reports on the Christian exodus from the Middle East. “Overall, the proportion of Middle Easterners who are Christian has dropped from 14% in 1910 to 4% today. Church leaders and pundits have begun to ask whether Christianity will vanish from the Middle East, its cradle, after 2,000 years.”

10 Reminders for Preachers

Preachers will benefit from these ten reminders.


Where information has increased, wisdom has decreased. —Kevin DeYoung

January 03, 2016

Once again, here is a selection of Letters to the Editor. The most popular article I’ve ever written is Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers. While I wrote it long before I invited letters to the editor, as soon as I allowed letters, they began to flow in. Here is a selection that represents the variety of opinions.

Just wanting to remind you that just because they’re at a relatives house doesn’t make them safe either! If our daughter was invited to a party or sleepover I always called the parents to make sure they were home and what activities the kids would be doing plus were they allowed to leave the house? I would sometimes find that they’d give me the right answer but not follow through once the event started.
—Jan H, New Glarus, WI


I am a Mother of three two boys and a girl. My rule regarding sleep overs was not open to discussion in our home. From a young age boundaries were set, explained and reinforced. The boundaries were defined by the element of risk. Sleepovers fell in the high risk zone so they were avoided all together. Our thoughts are don’t allow the situation to arise and it becomes a non-issue!
—Mandy R, Canada


I read your article, and I must say I’m a little shocked at how little perspective you have and how much you’ve allowed your anxiety to overrule reasonable risk assessment. You realize that your cute child is far more likely to be molested by someone they know well, such as an uncle. Not by a parent of another child in front of other children with whom they are sleeping in the same room with. Does it happen? Yes. But these things are really outside of your control, so denying a very important part of childhood development (aka, learning to be away from mom and dad) just so that you can abaite your anxiety is downright selfish. You aren’t keeping your kid home for their mental wellbeing, you are keeping them home for yours.
—Cathy M, Corning, NY


We are expecting our first child. It’s an exciting yet terrifying time. I often worry about keeping my child safe. So your article has given me much needed perspective and courage. When I was young my dad was hurt bad in an accident. We lost our home and had to move in with some relatives. I ended up being sexually abused by an older cousin there. I felt that I couldn’t say anything because if I did we wouldn’t have anywhere else to go. We would end up in the streets and it would be my fault. Going through that made it hard to trust others. I’m very lucky to have found a wonderful husband who supports and loves me. Sleepovers were always fun when I was little but now I feel that they are just not worth the risk. Thank you for sharing how you drew a line on sleepovers and didn’t cross it. I shall be taking that advice to help keep my child safe. Thanks again.
—Jessica P, Salt Lake City, UT


My oldest is now 24, we allowed her to sleep over starting at six when she was in kindergarden. We never had issues. These events are part of the socializing of children. When she was in fourth grade we invited all the girls from her class to our house, it was a crazy night but a great night, we invited all the girls, no cliques, didn’t matter the race, for the most part they got along, but we were dealing with fourth grade girls. High school was stressful, but if our daughter had not dealt with cliques and social issues in grade school (which were dealt with during sleep overs) she would have not been able to handle high school! There will always be issues, but you have to teach you child to deal with the issues. As a parent you MUST get to know the parents of your child’s friends. There are some risks, but the benefits of making life long friends with your child’s friends families is worth it.
—Janet V, Baton Rouge, LA


I believe that by forbidding your children sleepovers, you are depriving them of the hours they require to independently practice forming deep social bonds with their peers, a deprivation which could inadvertently hamper their emotional maturation and weaken their ability to resist predators now and later in life.

The development of private, personal, peer-based relationships outside of the family system is a process all people are required to do throughout their lives. It is deeply critical that children learn this process and practice it extensively in childhood.

However, it takes a lot of free time for a person of any age to converse enough to develop a true, healthy emotional bonds with a stranger peer. Unstructured, unsupervised private free time as peers is deeply necessary for social bonding among all people. And in this modern era of appointment play and supervised extracurricular activities, an overnight or weekend visit is the only opportunity children have to bond without almost constant interruption by adults. Willfully depriving children of the privacy and hours required to develop healthy social habits is monstrous.
—Christina D, Seattle, WA


I read a child training book years ago that confirmed my belief that sleepovers were a bad idea. So we took that approach with our children. We made one exception later, after which we found out some things about the family that, had we known before,we wouldn’t have allowed the sleepover. This and 3 personal incidences when I was a child 45 years ago confirm this: You are, and should always be, responsible, diligent, and watchful for your child’s wellbeing.
—Leanna S, Hollandale, MS

Tim: I received quite a few emails that were very difficult to read as they contained details of people who had been molested and abused while attending sleepovers. I chose not to share the ones that included heartbreaking details.

Comments on How Should Christians Use Guns

Last week I shared some of the articles that had been written in response to John Piper’s thoughts on Christians and guns. Needless to say, there were quite a few responses.

Appreciate the article as well as the others referenced. This still appears to be a liberty issue. My work experience (13 yrs. Corrections Officer, 2+ yrs hospital security) has allowed me to see a deeper level of human depravity; some people actually derive pleasure from harming others. In light of the many ‘pajama boys’ running around today, men need to be reminded of their obligations as men. I don’t get paid to look the other way. I totally trust in the Lord’s sovereignty and also embrace Romans 13. Not all of us are wired to be passive, some of us are wired to be warriors and will use the force necessary to protect those entrusted to our care. Some things in life are worth fighting for…and some things in life are worth dying for.
—Steve R, Freeport, IL


I live next to a Naval air base here in Southern Maryland and my church has (unsurprisingly) plenty of pilots, gun safety instructors, marines…etc. So I come from a more conservative “pro-gun” “pro-self defense” background. While I am not a gun owner myself, I am not a pacifist—and I have been wrestling with this idea of Christian suffering vs. Christian responsibility. When do we lay down our weapons and be taken for Christ? And when do we become a loving neighbor and protect the weak around us?

I am glad John Piper addressed the issue, and though I do not fully agree with his conclusions I think he brings some very needed points. His talk of sacrifice and suffering rings strange in our free and Western ears. It is easy to become so comfortably entitled to “our stuff” and “our lives”—that when they are threatened we opt to go down with out “guns blazing.” The call of Christ is to lose, to die to self, to suffer. Like most of our brothers and sisters around the world. This is something we must remember.

As you pointed out, Tim, the issue of guns is not an issue of “first order doctrine,” making it challenging to draw clear cut lines that define when it is okay to defend and when it is necessary to suffer. I think there are times when (though they may be very rare) it is perhaps the most loving thing to do shoot a gun. If we have the means to defend our neighbor or our family (entrusted to us by God) it is the Christian and the loving thing to defend. Not to look the other way. There is also an element of “losing ourselves” in defending those around us—which last time I checked is most Christian.

Though I am still grappling with this issue, I think too often we in the West are dying on the hill of self-protection. Don’t touch me. Don’t touch my guns. Don’t touch my stuff. The rare cases where Christian responsibility is allowable is when we shoot not in the name of self, but in the name of those around us and those entrusted into our care.
—Daniel H, Southern Maryland


My husband and I started discussing John Piper’s article as soon as I read it on Facebook; I even posted it on my FB page. What I am seeing in my NewsFeed and even hearing in discussions with other Christians is more of the attitude that Jerry Falwell espoused. There is a certain swagger in Christian circles that has replaced trust in God. People look at others with suspicion instead of love, and have a “don’t mess with me or else” demeanor. Do they trust God or do they live in fear? Aside from the multitudes of injuries, suicides, and accidental deaths that occur from having guns in the home, one of my biggest concerns is that a citizen will shoot first without any attempt to diffuse the situation. Ideally, this is the aim of the police—they give the suspect the opportunity to cease what he/she is doing.

As always, I appreciate your blog and your desire for balance. There have been many hateful things said, not only about John Piper’s article, but about him as a teacher. I think I am more worried about those gun owners, but I will hand that concern over to Jesus.
—Kathy S, Lebanon, PA


Thank you for giving John Piper’s article on Christians and arms respectful press. I found his words a refreshing breath of Christ-centered love. In response to your summary of responses, I have two thoughts:

(1) While Piper’s article is not perfect, I am disappointed that he has been charged with being “biblicistic and dependent upon a specific understanding of the relationship between the New Testament and the Old” (Wedgeworth’s words). How can it be wrong to see the new covenant as our lens for interpreting and applying the old, as Piper is trying to do? As an Anabaptist, I come from a long theological heritage of doing just this, and our people have suffered for centuries for refusing to bear the sword. I don’t think it is true that Piper “assumes that we need a direct biblical teaching on a matter in order to know whether it is morally permissible or not” (Wedgeworth’s explanation for his “biblicistic” charge). Rather, Piper is drawing biblical theological deductions from the pattern of God’s unfolding revelation, which climaxes in Christ’s defenseless self-sacrifice and his call for us to follow in his steps. This is no mere simplistic “biblicism.”

(2) Since you have expressed interest in this question of Christians and the use of force, I strongly encourage (exhort, implore, urge, beg!) you to read and review Preston Sprinkle’s book Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence. A complex topic like this cannot be properly addressed in a handful of short articles. Sprinkle deals with the biblical evidence from both testaments in detail, historical evidence from the early church, and the toughest practical questions from today. He says he is from your own Christian neighborhood: “The Christian subculture in which I was raised and still worship is nondenominational conservative Reformed. I’ve been influenced over the years by John Piper, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, and many others who swim in that pond” (from Chapter 1). So you will identify with his way of handling Scripture. And he’s thought about this for a long time, making what he calls a “reluctant journey toward nonviolence.” Piper needs to read this book (I think he’s stranded somewhat inconsistently halfway on the journey). And I think you would find it very helpful as well. Tolle lege!
—Dwight G, Leon, IA


I appreciate the overall respectful tone with which you responded to John Piper’s piece “Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves”. However, I am disappointed in the narrowness of the arguments used by cited authors in support of Christians using deadly force against attackers. It seems to be basically assumed by people holding your position that the only recourse left to a man whose wife and/or family is being attacked is to stand idly and helplessly by if he does not have a gun handy. As well, the situations which are created by proponents of deadly force are extremely hypothetical and no attempt is made to sort through all the nuances of such hypothetical situations. For a very well stated stance on the non-violent position, I would strongly encourage you to read Preston Sprinkle’s book Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence. Mr. Sprinkle has arrived at his position “reluctantly” and as such has though through it well. Blessings.
—Conrad H, Mozambique, Africa

Tim: The narrowness of the articles I quoted was a reflection of the narrowness of the responses. I did not find any articles from people who agreed with Piper and extended his argument.

Thanks to all who took the time to write a letter to the editor. Now that I have posted 10 of these collections, I am glad to consider this a successful experiment. I intend to continue to invite and share such letters.