Tapping The Table (Proverbs 16:3)

The cigarette smoke was denser as I approached the table. Above the background noise of an upbeat Frank Sinatra recording, I could hear the crowd cheering. All eyes were focused on the man at the end of the table. He tapped the table three times with his fingers then made a fist and then rested it for another second. He snatched the dice, briefly closed his eyes, then threw it across the table, shouting, “C’mon Baby! Be the right one!”

I was watching a craps game in a Las Vegas casino. Although I do not gamble, I was intrigued by the routine that this player repeated before he threw his dice. On a hunch, I waited a few more minutes until the next player took their turn throwing the dice. This time, she squeezed the dice twice before throwing it. As I left that table and passed by other tables, I observed the majority of players had a variation of this routine. 

It is not only gamblers, many people undertake a brief ritual before performing a task. Baseball players before they come to bat; basketball players before shooting a free throw. What about the pre-trial rituals of attorneys or pretest rituals of students? Name the profession or activity and there is usually a pre-task ritual. Many years ago, I underwent Lasik eye surgery to correct my near-sightedness. On the morning of the surgery, he met with me to briefly go over what would happen. He then smiled and said, “I have a routine before every surgery. I would like to pray for you and for the entire team caring for you. Would you allow me to do that?”

The surgeon did not know I was a Christian and I certainly appreciated and agreed to his request. This was a pre-task ritual with which I heartily approved!

Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established. 

Proverbs 16:3 (NASB)

Many of us have routines before beginning a task. Regardless of what it is, if one is a believer in Jesus Christ, any task should always begin with praising and acknowledging God’s sovereign will over what we are about to undertake. He created us for a purpose, to honor Him in everything we do.


Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

He Sees Me! (Genesis 16:13)

She was a foreigner and a maid to the wife of a rich man. She was pregnant by the rich man, obeying the request of her mistress, to bear this child who would become the heir to the family. However, when the rich man’s wife became pregnant, her mistress treated her harshly and with disdain. She needed to escape.

She was Hagar. 

God promised Abram and Sarai that they would have a son and be blessed with many descendants. Abram would be the father of a great nation. There was only one problem. Both Abram and Sarai were over eighty years old. When they were given this promise, both were incredulous. How could God miraculously allow Sarai to bear a child? Several years passed and it did not happen. During this time in history, a woman could present her maid to her husband to bear a child for the marriage and be adopted as their own. Sarai reasoned that her maid, Hagar, could accomplish what God had promised, so she gave Hagar to Abram and she became pregnant. However, when this occurred, conflict and jealousy ensued. Hagar, although still a maid servant, now had a special status with Abram and this angered Sarai who treated her harshly. Hagar was forced to flee to the wilderness. 

Pregnant, abandoned, and alone, Hagar lost all hope. She had quickly gone from a comfortable privileged life to an outcast. Why would anyone pay attention to her? Did anyone care? God did. He sent His angel to comfort and inform her that He was in control. God told her that her son would be named Ishmael and he would also become the father of a great nation. Reassured and thankful, Hagar praised God and called Him, El Roi, the God who sees me.

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” 

Genesis 16:13 (NASB)

God saw Hagar. God sees you. God sees me! Many years ago, I was in a very dark place, estranged from my father and many of my friends. I was abandoned and rejected. My support system was gone. In desperation, I fell on my hands and knees and cried out to God. God saw me and answered me. He led me to repent of my sins. He restored the broken relationships. He healed me. 

El Roi. 

The God who sees me. 

He is the same God who sees all of us during our times of greatest needs. He answered us by  sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Redeemer, our Lord and Savior.


Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

How Do Hotels Achieve This? (Proverbs 24:30-34)

The glass shower doors were pristine and clear, not a single water spot or soap scum. It was the antithesis of my home shower doors and I wanted to know how they achieved it. I was admiring the splendor of the bathroom in the hotel where we were recently vacationing. Thousands of people have stayed in this same room for over twenty years, yet it looked as though it was brand new. How do hotels achieve this?

Turning to the internet, I found some quick answers. Vinegar or ammonia-based glass cleaners are effective. However, sometimes there is damage to the glass and even the most fervent effort may not be able to undo it. I decided on cleaning the glass with a vinegar mixture. While it did work, there were still some resistant water spots. Surely there must be another method? Digging a bit deeper into the internet, I discovered a more obvious answer. Since hotels usually clean their bathrooms everyday, the usual buildups on a glass shower door do not have time to accumulate. In other words, they do not have to deal with the issues I am facing since they are proactive to address it when it begins. God reminds us of something very similar in our lives.

I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. 

Proverbs 24:30-34 (NLT)

The answer is obvious to anyone who listens to God’s instructions. Whether it is water spots on a shower door, overgrown weeds in a garden, or completing a job at work or school, if one procrastinates or neglects a task that needs to be done on a regular basis, the consequences may be dire, coming upon us like an armed robber. 

Our faith is similar. Whether it is putting off spending time with God by reading His Word or communing with Him in prayer, we need to be sustained by God every moment of the day. We must put on the armor of God so that our walls of faith are not eroded and broken down by the worries of the world. 


Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

Freedom (John 8:34-37)

“…she and her husband discovered the door of their apartment was sealed. They received word of the lockdown but were surprised how fast it happened. Sometimes doors are sealed with electronic alarms, others are wired shut, bolted down, or welded shut. Even their fire escapes were locked down, many from before the pandemic.”

This is an excerpt from a letter written by missionaries in a country where Christians are actively persecuted. They were recounting their experiences as the number of COVID cases surged, leading to draconian measures by the government to contain the spread of the infection. What little freedoms they were accustomed to were suddenly rescinded. If one is fortunate to live in a democratic society, such as the United States, we may take for granted many freedoms that are guaranteed to us by our respective laws. If taken away, we may feel justified in protesting. In a totalitarian regime, what little freedoms that are granted can be quickly taken away and there is little or no recourse. Some may even die challenging the regime to preserve their freedom. 

During a worldwide pandemic, the freedom to choose how we protect ourselves from a possible infection has polarized citizens in many countries. The desire for freedom is one of the most powerful of human needs. Why do we seek freedom? Autonomy? Self-determination? These are important but are there other reasons that are even more important? Perhaps we are seeking freedom from guilt? We have guilt because of our sinful nature. When we sin, it damages and may break relationships, including within ourselves. It leads to our guilt, thinking we are powerless to do anything about it. Yet, we still try. How can we overcome this guilt? Protesting? Counseling? Alcohol? Medications? Once again, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, gives us the answer. 

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32 (NASB)

If we obey Jesus Christ, we will know the Truth and it will make us free, but free from what? 

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 

John 8:34-37 (NASB)

True freedom is to be free from sin. If we humble ourselves and come before Jesus Christ, confessing and repenting of our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We will be free from the guilt that paralyzes and destroys our soul. Jesus Christ offers us the solution. 

Some of us would choose to die to preserve our freedom. Jesus Christ chose to die so that we may be free in Him. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

The Bible Is Silent (John 20:30-31)

The Apostle Thomas and his betrothed were winemakers, present at the wedding in Cana when Jesus Christ performed His first miracle, transforming water into wine. Because of their knowledgeable backgrounds and both were eyewitnesses to the miracle, they left their job and followed Jesus as His disciples. Plausible? Yes. Believable? Perhaps. Factual? No. The only definite fact is the Bible is silent on these conversations and relationships.

I was viewing a docudrama, one of several newer productions that feature Jesus Christ and other stories of the Bible, portraying familiar characters with augmented plot lines. There is a liberal dosing of true Bible verses that are blended with fictional accounts and highly dramatized renderings of true events recorded in the Bible. While these docudramas do focus attention on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, one should always be wary of what is being presented. These are extrapolations and interpretations. The Apostle John wrote these prescient words in His Gospel account of the life of Jesus Christ, perhaps anticipating this time. 

Therefore many other  signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. 

John 20:30-31 (NASB)

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. 

John 21:25 (NASB)

The Bible is silent on these additional stories because the complete revelation of Jesus Christ has been written. John, through the Holy Spirit, is unequivocally stating that all we need to know about Jesus Christ is written in the Bible. There is no need to add to God’s Word. 

The story of Jesus Christ is complete. What is still being written is the story of our faith in Him. This will continue until we behold His glorious presence in Heaven.


Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop (Psalms 27:13-14)

I rushed home and opened my mailbox, quickly sifting through the mail, seeking out the identifying logos on the envelopes. It was the spring of my senior year in high school and I was hoping for an acceptance at one of my first choice colleges to which I applied. All of my classmates knew that letters of acceptance were sent out within these next few weeks. We knew when it would generally happen, we just didn’t know when it would precisely occur. 

Most of us have experienced this uncertainty. It is the proverbial, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.” The Bible records a similar tense and anxious moment in the life of one of the great saints. Noah spent 120 years constructing the ark that God commanded him to build. During this time, Noah preached to his friends and neighbors about the impending judgment of God, pleading with them to repent of their sinful ways and turn to God. One can imagine the ridicule that was hurled his way. It was probably the origin of public shaming! After enduring over a century of this, the time came for Noah and his family to enter the ark. After representatives of the animal kingdom were directed by God to enter the ark, God closed the door, sealing them in. God told Noah the flood would happen, he just didn’t know when it would start. And this was the problem. Noah waited for seven days, sealed in the ark with his family and numerous animals. The Bible does not tell us but with each passing day, Noah’s anxiety undoubtedly grew. I know mine would. If I was in Noah’s position, waiting for the other shoe to drop, would I have the faith to persevere? Noah did. He ignored the naysayers. He waited 120 years. He could wait a bit longer. He trusted and waited for the Lord to act.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. 

Psalms 27:13-14 (NASB)

God always answers our prayers, but He answers by His timeline, not ours. We should not despair because we must learn to grow in faith and wait for Him to act. Whether it is seven days, weeks, or years, let not your heart be troubled. When we wait for the Lord, He promises to answer and bless us!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

Hate Speech (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Racist. Misogynistic. Bigoted. Hate speech!

These are powerful and angry words. I could have been reading a review lambasting the latest offering of a conservative politician, but I wasn’t. These were words taken from an editorial criticizing the Bible. For some, the Bible is now labeled as hate speech. It is placed in the same category as the words of Hitler. Why? The definition of hate speech is expanding. In many publications, it is defined as, “speech that is intended to insult, intimidate, or cause prejudice against a person or people based on their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, occupation, disability, or physical appearance.” Sadly, some Christians have taken a hostile stance toward groups of people who do not share their same beliefs, using the Bible to support their stance. The same Bible that reveals God’s plan of love and redemption to a lost world has been used to justify hatred. By their misguided actions, the Bible has become a tool for hate speech. 

How did Jesus Christ deal with racism and cultural stereotypes? The Bible records an exchange between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. For hundreds of years, there was animosity between the Samaritans and the Jews and both groups went out of their way to avoid each other. It was dangerous for Jesus to lead His disciples through Samaria and unprecedented for Him to speak to a Samaritan woman alone. It was a very tense moment when Jesus Christ met the Samaritan woman at the well. She was a woman who had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband. She was scorned by the other townspeople. Jesus did not overlook or sugarcoat her sins. Instead, He focused her attention upon her true needs, to hear the Truth that only God can reveal. She responded by repenting of her sins and telling everyone what Jesus did for her.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 

Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT)

How does a Christian navigate the world’s relativistic moral landscape and still remain faithful to God’s Word? We should look to the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We should speak the Truth in love to whomever we encounter and not hate or malign others who do not believe in Jesus Christ. All Christian believers should desire to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, not with clever words or trickery, but with confidence that Jesus will grant the forgiveness of sins to all who call upon His Name. 

We love because He first loved us. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

Wandering In The Wilderness (Isaiah 48:10)

So many of the saints of the Bible have spent time wandering in the wilderness. Joseph. Moses. David. Our Lord Jesus Christ spent forty days in the wilderness. Unlike Joseph, it was not because He was betrayed by his brothers. Unlike Moses, He was not fleeing a murder He committed. Unlike David, it was not because of His own sin of adultery and murder. The Bible states that God, the Holy Spirit, drove Jesus into the desert wilderness.

Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. 

Mark 1:12-13 (NASB)

In all of these examples, God used this time of wandering in the wilderness for a specific purpose. 

He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD  tested him. 

Psalms 105:17-19 (NASB)

You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 

Deuteronomy 8:2 (NASB)

Are you currently wandering through your own wilderness? It may be navigating a difficult relationship at home, school or work. It may be a rejection to your dream college or graduate school. It may be working in a job that is seemingly unrelated to your ultimate career goals. It may be a retirement that has been less fulfilling and relaxing as initially hoped. Why is this happening? Perhaps you are experiencing a time of testing? Once again, God gives us His answer.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. 

Isaiah 48:10 (NASB)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces  endurance. And let  endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be  perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

James 1:2-4 (NASB)

God’s focus is not on the wandering, trials, or afflictions, but on the successful completion, to refine and mold us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God drove His own Son into the desert wilderness to be tempted in all ways but not sin. Because of what Jesus did, we can trust His promises to intervene in our lives and strengthen our faith during our moments of greatest despair. 

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 

Hebrews 4:15 (NASB)

If this is your time of wandering in the wilderness, draw strength and comfort through the examples of the great saints in the Bible. Their wanderings all pointed to our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is our Great Shepherd who will always lead us through the darkest valleys.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

Who Took Care Of Peter’s Wife? (Matthew 4:18-20)

Many years ago, I accepted an offer from a headhunter to interview for a job in Florida. At that stage in my life, I was a full partner with my former pathology group. My wife also had an established pediatric dental practice. We had two young children in elementary school and my son had special needs. If I were to take another job, it would need to adequately compensate me for the income of my current job, my wife’s lost income, giving up her dental practice, and finding schools that would address the needs of my children. Ultimately, I turned down the offer since it would not adequately address all of these concerns. There was too much at stake and I did not want to hurt my family. 

Thousands of years ago, a man with a family was offered an opportunity to leave everything behind to follow an itinerant teacher. What was his decision?

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

Matthew 4:18-20 (NASB)

And just like that, Peter became a disciple of Jesus Christ. For the next three years, he would live and learn from the living God, the Messiah. This is a wonderful and inspiring story, except for one thing. Who took care of Peter’s wife? The Bible informs us that Peter was married when he became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus even healed his mother-in-law at the beginning of His ministry. Peter was a fisherman and had a younger brother, Andrew, who was also a fisherman. Yet, both Peter and Andrew joined Jesus as disciples. Who provided for Peter’s wife and his family? The Bible does not give us any insight into this. Presumably, Peter still remained a fisherman and during any possible free time, would fish to provide for his family. Or perhaps he took another job. Perhaps he was supported by donations to Jesus and His followers. The Bible is silent on this. 

I frequently ponder this because I don’t think I could do what Peter did. It was a different time when Jesus walked this earth. Yet, the issues that families faced were very similar to today. Someone had to provide for lost income to the family. There were issues for schooling the children. The geographical location of their home was important for a network of support. While the Bible does not tell us what happened, we have to assume that Peter’s family, and the families of the other disciples, were properly cared for and stable. 

What if Jesus asked me to move and leave everything like He asked Peter? Would I be able to do it for Jesus? If, like Peter and the rest of the disciples, I do not drop everything to follow Jesus, is my faith not genuine? Is my faith feeble and small? What is the cost of following Jesus?

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

Luke 14:26-28 (NASB)

These are difficult and challenging words that Jesus presents to those who desire to follow Him. Jesus honored the sanctity of marriage and the family; it would be difficult to conclude that He was insensitive to the needs of the families of His disciples. Jesus recognized and embraced the issues of life that all of us face and directly addressed them. 

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 

Matthew 6:25-29 (NASB)

We can be confident that God provided for the families of the disciples and for all His followers who place their faith in Him. He does not dismiss these concerns but refocuses our heart to understand the true cost of following Him. What is the answer that Jesus gives?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

Matthew 6:33-34 (NASB)

Is my faith too small? I still struggle with these statements of Jesus Christ. We all make sacrifices to follow Jesus Christ. Yet, my sacrifices pale in comparison to the millions of people around the world who sacrifice everything to follow Jesus Christ. In some countries, Christianity is banned, and the mere mention of it can be punished by imprisonment and/or death. Accepting Jesus Christ leads to ostracism from their own family, even from their own spouses and children. 

When I meditate upon these challenging words of Jesus, I lament how small my faith is. How desperately I need my Lord and Savior for His grace and mercy in my life. I pray that all who are seeking God, focus upon His kingdom and righteousness. The issues of life will fall into place once we place God first in our lives. We can trust His promises because He sealed them with His own life. He was rejected by His family. He was betrayed by His friends. He was scorned by His own people. In spite of this, Jesus knew that God, the Father, would provide for Him. He knew that if He remained faithful, God would be glorified. Jesus would never ask anything of us that He has not already done Himself. 

May we all be encouraged by the faith of our Living God, Jesus Christ. 


Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses 

Mochitsuki (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Thud. Thud. Thud.

The rhythmic pounding of the wooden mallets making contact with the dough resonated throughout the neighborhood. It was Christmas day and our family was celebrating mochitsuki, the Japanese tradition of mochi pounding with our friends and their extended family. Once cooked, the steaming hot, glutinous sweet mochi rice must be pounded so that no grains are present. Once the process is completed, the mochi is shaped into small cakes to be eaten. If one has never experienced this, here is a famous video showcasing two very energetic mochi pounders.

Fastest Mochi Making in Japan – YouTube

Most certainly, our mochi pounding was not as dynamic or exciting, but it was equally effective! It is a tradition spanning over a thousand years of Japanese history and celebrates the new year. As a Japanese-American, I was happy to participate as I imagined my own ancestors in Japan celebrating in the same manner. Traditions bind us. They reconnect us with our cultural roots and generations of family members. Of course, not everyone who participated in the mochitsuki experienced the same deep emotions that I did. Many were there simply for the camaraderie and the food. While this is important and noble, it overlooks the deep heritage of this tradition. 

Do the traditions of man differ from the traditions of God?

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NASB)

Before He was resurrected from the dead and returned to Heaven to be with God, the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ earnestly desired to share a last Passover meal with His disciples. He wanted them to remember Him when He was gone. Thousands of years later, the Church still partakes in Communion, to proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns to earth. Like the mochitsuki, not all who participate recognize their solemn responsibility to honor and uphold the significance of the tradition.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number  sleep. 

1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (NASB)

In the early Church, there were some who gorged themselves on the bread and got drunk on the wine, before the actual communion. They were partaking in the communion in an unworthy manner, not recognizing or understanding the significance. As a result, they brought God’s judgment upon themselves, resulting in weakness, sickness, and even death. 

The traditions of man look back to our heritage and bind us together with little consequence if we no longer understand the origins. When God establishes a tradition, He does so to bring all participants closer to Him. We must understand and honor the origins of His traditions to partake of it in a worthy manner, lest we face His judgment. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses