Dino Rizzo Back in the Pulpit After 14-Months

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The former pastor of Healing Place Church will now serve as associate pastor of The Church of the Highlands in Alabama.

According to The Christian Post, former megachurch pastor Dino Rizzo will take to the pulpit once again after a 14-month hiatus following a forced resignation from Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, La. The resignation was required by the church’s overseers after Rizzo admitted to an “inappropriate friendship with another woman” who was not his wife. But now Rizzo will take a new position as associate pastor at Church of the Highlands under senior pastor Chris Hodges.

During the presentation of Rizzo to the congregation last week, Hodges called him an “amazing inspiration” and the reason for the planting of Church of the Highlands. He also explained that Rizzo had completed a 31-point restoration plan created by Hodges and the other HPC overseers, which included counseling for Rizzo and his wife. Rizzo said he was “humbled, grateful and nervous” to be in the pulpit again.

“You know when you walk through a tough time in your life you wonder will anyone walk in when things fall apart in your life while others are walking out and I can say this, that these men walked in and so did my family. And I just want to thank God for men who will stand by you and you have a pastor that will go to the mat,” said Rizzo. He then gave a sermon on the topic, “How to Come Back to the Father.” Rizzo was met with cheers and clapping from the congregation.

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  • Confused

    Not enough time to be “restored.”

    • Jim

      This is not your call. Imagine how many times you have fallen, and know God restores you immediately. Extend the grace you have been given, more freely than you were given it.

    • http://CortlandCoffey.com Cortland Coffey

      haha. I forget where that verse is in the Bible….Must be somewhere in second opinions. The gospel is just too hard for some people to understand.

    • trulyfox

      How much time did it take God to restore King David? As far as I know Rizzo didn’t have anyone killed.

    • Peter Mahoney

      The issue of time come only second to the issue of what it means to be restored. According to the article, this “pastor” has not been restored by his former church. He just changed teams… this is what is unbiblical and unsound.

      • NavyDad77

        That is SO TRUE! The way they left the church hanging is only part of that is messed up about this. The amount of cover up and misdirection that had to be employed is pure evil. look it up on blogs mycultlife ( by Lisa Kerr ) and tigerdroppings ( from Baton Rouge). There is also a story by Greg G. on “al dot com ” with a similar name as this one. You have to read the comments.

        The powers that be have used well chosen tactics and organized PR strategy to just move on… all those who argue against what happen get heeped into a category of Athiest or Judgemental… That is the results that the leadership want so that the outcry is silenced. Those who REALLY know what happened on staff have (allegedly) been paid off or are scared to lose their job.
        This will fester though and things will come to light… then it will be disasterous for the ministries that these churches are doing in prison, innercity, in families and ALL the other very noble enterprises. This decision to bring him back in and cover up what happened AFTER the affiar is horrendous.

    • Marco

      What is enough time? and who should decide the length of time?

  • Joseph Benigno

    People never learn from the experiences of others. A very popular Evangelist from the area had committed the same kind of sin and was reduced from heaven to hell. to do the same. After his sin was trumpeted all around the world, he was never the same again. Some ministers contemplating to do the same kind of sin might be thinking that they are an exemption. The desire to satisfy the lust of the flesh seems to be greater than their desire to please the Lord. How could a minister stand behind the pulpit preaching before the people if his conscience keeps on shouting about the sin hidden right in his conscience? But, let us give these wayward ministers of the Lord a chance to prove themselves that the grace of God can lift them up from the miry dirt of forbidden relationships.

  • wehayesmusic

    I am excited to see Pastor Rizzo is back in the pulpit. It’s not often we have pastors show that they are imperfect too and that they themselves need the same grace they teach us about. God will do amazing things through him and I’m excited to see what some of those things are!

    • pete pan

      by your standards, lets get all pastors doing something immoral, illegal, and sinful… the bigger the better! what examples they could be. Shame most lead boring God fearing lives and keep themselves in check.
      Truly sorry that’s what excites you.

  • AC

    “inappropriate friendship with another woman”

    If by that – he means being found out after elders followed him to Perkins Rowe to find out that he wasn’t doing “sermon prep” like he said he was, but was sleeping with a young intern – then yes, that’s exactly what it was. Liar and adulterer. Yes, everyone sins, but the standard for the shepherd is higher than the “everybody else sins” excuse. One man’s “amazing inspiration” is another man’s fraud. This guy should be selling insurance plans, not shepherding God’s flock after a 14-month time-out.

    • BM

      Nice, harsh pharisaical attitude!

    • Jim Thorpe

      John 8:7b “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” The Msg

    • Troyce Hoke

      I guess with that attitude the murderer Moses shouldn’t have lead the children of Israel to the promise land. And then there is David who was a murderer and adulterer, God said “he was a man after His own heart”. I guess God was screwed up. And then there is the prostitute Rahab in the lineage of Jesus, Himself.
      If Rizzo repents, then he should be forgiven.

      • Peter Mahoney

        Biblically unsound… Moses murdered the task master BEFORE he was the leader of Israel. Did Moses break fellowship with God and suffer the consequences? Absolutely. And because he did, he was not allowed to enter the promised land. David has a similar story… God took the life of his son as punishment for his actions.

        You make it sound as if there shouldn’t be consequences to sin. Forgiveness can be offered and received, but that doesn’t negate the consequences of one’s sin and disobedience.

        Should Rizzo be forgiven? Absolutely… if he is truly repentant. Whether or not he should be a pastor again is an entirely separate matter.

        • Marco

          Who decides if he is repentant? Who should decide how long the restoration or what the process should be? Perhaps the consequence as in Davids case is not seen to us, but because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Leadership of the church decides if he should be restored to “a” pulpit notice he is not preaching at the church he founded. If the leadership restores him, why isn’t that enough? It’s a trust issue, we all want a pound of flesh for peoples transgressions. These are the same people that scream when Zimmerman is found not guilty, we elect leadership and a system to bring justice but when it’s justice we don’t agree with or find appropriate, we bash the system and the person.

          • Peter Mahoney

            Who decides if he is repentant? Ultimately God does, but from an earthly perspective, the local church body where he served as pastor (Matthew 5 & 18). It doesn’t matter what a local body in Alabama does when the issue is in Louisiana.

            Who should decide how long the restoration or what the process should be? The Scriptures and the local church (again in Louisiana).

            It continues to baffle me that people cannot separate Rizzo’s relationship with God and the church from his being a pastor. The focus of Biblical restoration is relationships (God, other believers, and the church) not positions or titles. Sin breaks fellowship and trust and that’s what needs to be restored.

            Again, those things should be the goal. Rizzo should be pursuing those things where they are broken. In time, can he be restored to the pulpit? Maybe, but it should be clearly evident in his life that he is right with God. And that will have a distinct appearance and aroma. Something that doesn’t appear to be evident now.

          • NavyDad77

            absolutely! How did you find this story, Peter M? Understand that you are interested in the Louisiana home church. But there is also a string of comments on a story from birmingham news reporter Gregg G; “al dot come” .

    • Peter Mahoney

      AC you are spot on… pastors are held to a higher standard and we should be. This guy abused his authority and used it to break the vows he shares with his wife, the church he pastored, and with God. 14 months to work through some punch list so that he can be restored to the pulpit is nothing but window dressing.

      The process of restoration is NOT one that gets a man back into the pulpit, it is so that he can be restored to the church… in this case the local church that expelled him (Matthew 5 and 18, Galatians 6, 1 Corinthians 5). Before he steps behind any other pulpit, he needs to work through the mess he created with his former church family. Thunderous applause from another church based on popularity and perceived talent means ZERO in the face of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

      Can Rizzo ever be restored to leadership? Possibly. The question of “should he” is another matter entirely. In our culture, personal holiness takes a backseat to talent and popularity.

      • Marco

        Sounding like a person scared by leadership. “Before he steps behind any other pulpit, he needs to work through the mess he created with his former church family.” How do you know this hasn’t been worked out? gathering all the facts is the difference between “discernment” and “judgement”

        • NavyDad77

          the leaders are abusing their power and covering up the issues. Instead of using the Bible; they used there own inclinations to protect their interests. It is dispicable behaivior that they have not backed down to provide transparency and repent for the REAL SIN of the cover up.

          Moreover it is damaging to a ministry when this all unravels in the future. The longer this goes covered up then the harder the damage will be to overcome.

        • Peter Mahoney

          In my view “worked out” must include Rizzo humbly submitting to his former congregation in repentance for restoration. Only then (again in my view) should he be stepping behind another fellowship’s pulpit.

          Being dismissed from a church is a form of church discipline and there is a remedy for that… repentance and restoration.

          Scared of leadership? No way. Do you and I define what leadership is differently? Absolutely.

    • Steven Leapley

      nd yet he come back as an ASSOCIATE not the lead pastor……….ever been fired from a place and then given the chance to come back and work there again…in a lower position….humbling

      • not again

        Steven, when he left the church in LOUISIANA, he told the congregation he was tired (and got a standing ovation)
        When he went to the church in ALABAMA, where he preached his “comeback” message, people from the church in LOUISIANA attended the service. They were happy that their former pastor, who they loved, and who left because he was tired, was now “rested” and they wanted to be there to cheer him on!
        When he confessed to this inappropriate relationship, the people from the church in LOUISIANA were shocked! That was the first time they heard FROM HIS MOUTH anything about an inappropriate relationship.

        BTW, the young intern who was involved in this inappropriate relationship was packed up, paid off, and moved out of state. NO ONE is talking about her restoration. Her name cannot even be mentioned in a prayer request at staff meetings at the Louisiana church.

    • NavyDad77

      Wow! Someone besides me mentions the Perkins Rowe issue… That is just the tip of the iceberg of things that are being covered up for all the wrong reasons.

      Each comment section of every “story” about this demonstrates the well organized and thought out cover up. People are caught up in the grace or judgement aspect of this about the affair. That is NOT the problem.

      The reaction and response by the leaders are the REAL SINS that people need to call out formally.

  • so sad

    “Rizzo was met with cheers and clapping from the congregation” Wrong
    congregation! Rizzo was preaching in Alabama… the church he was forced
    to resign is in Louisiana! Why didn’t he come clean with his own
    congregation at HPC?

    • Faith

      I have to agree with you. Myself and my 6 children are the victims of a pastor who was my husband and their father and had an affair. It is unspeakable what it does to your life! Shame on men who do this to the women who are by their sides in ministry and their precious children who look up to them to be an example. At the very least, discipline should be mandatory!!! I know Dino personally, we went to college together, and he is a great guy, but shame on him for doing this to his wife and family and his church family.

  • KG

    It amazes me how judgmental some folks can be. In God’s eyes sin is sin no matter who commits it. The differences between someone in the public eye versus one who is unknown is the fall is greater. Galatians 6:1 teaches us to restore the fallen lest we find ourselves in their position. Unfortunately The Church is the one place we surely will wound our own, rather than be the spiritual trauma center that offers healing to those in need. Glad to hear that another wounded soldier is back on the field, because his experience may help others avoid falling into the same scenario.

    • NavyDad77

      Dino should definitely be restored the right way into the right role. Those in the know are working with those that did the cover up. SO, the resulting organizational dynamic is festering and undermining the mission. As the truth trickles out then the people inside AND outside the organization will likely be faced with more awkard struggle with their mission. All this struggle and bewilderment caused by a cover up. If the leaders had just come clean and handled this in accordance to the Bible all of the aftermath would not matter.

      It amazes me how non-transparent and misleading the church leaders have been in this ordeal. It was a bad situation made into a horrible cover up. The lack of integrity of believing that God can heal and protect but NOT allowing Him to do it. Instead they have taken matters into their own hands and own PR plan.

  • Manofaith

    This is one of those rare occasions when a minister actually completes a restoration plan. The story often ends with the fallen pastor proclaiming after a month or two, “I’m fine now;” thus circumventing the process. The enemy would love to sift all pastors as wheat, and when Satan fails at that task he can be assured that the unforgiving, condemnation-crazed Christian police will pick up where he left off. Yes the man of God should be held to a higher standard but when he falls repentance and restoration are the biblical pathways back into the pulpit. Unless you don’t believe in things like grace, forgiveness, etc.

    • NavyDad77

      there was no 31 point plan. It has been said that DeLynn does not even acknowlege that anything happened. That lines up with the fact that Dino has not even apoligized or admitted anything. That is calculated and disturbing. Instead of a redemption plan there was a cover up of what happened. its been said that, the only reason for the delay was a PR move and some legal wrangling cause they could not get him back in at HPC in Louisiana. Its been said that his firing was not legal so he was holding that over their head until they let him back in.
      It would be great if what the church said was true and we could all just press the “I Believe” button. In this case the ministry is harboring something sinister and I shudder to think what will happen when this impacts the ministry of the Dream Center and COTH.

  • RAMJR

    Restoration is the key. It calls for shame, guilt and reflection of value. It calls to ask the question, “What will happen if I do this?” That’s not a value of man. That value is more like, “How much can I get away with, before I am in sin?” Unfortunately, the second is what the majority in the church do say these days, and why it is hard for so many ‘Christians’ to take a stand that calls out their pride, our pride, and not turn into the typical ‘hypocrite Christian’ that picks and chooses sin, by the value they live by.
    To take this stand will be met with questions, looks and doubts on the honesty of this man, a minister, someone who is supposed to represent a standing we look up to…but when we do that, we set ourselves up for the failures they are, “surprise!”, human after all.
    A well known pastor I listen to from time to time, he was at a retreat for ministers and gave a sermon surrounding just how much sexual immorality in pornography surrounds the church, through the leadership. He felt led by the Holy Spirit to call for every minister that was at this event to come forward, on the stage with him, to confess and stand for the truth that would convict and shame many…and then his wife stated after this she thought no one would…but some actually ran down to the stage.
    The value of the flesh is a substance that is ‘skin deep’, just inches, if that, in depth that hides so many hearts that God wants to get close to, and have them confess.
    In doing so, that is going against ever value of man to keep the facade of truth away…but in doing so, a closeness to God most would crave to feel. When we think that exposing to God, and to those we can trust in the value of Christ, the sins that taint our lives, it is a freedom that has angels in heaven rejoicing! God smiling! Jesus loving the fact we are listening and learning and seeing, “For all have fallen” and that grace is the key…NOTHING, absolutely nothing we do can prepare us for the weight that is taken off by His grace, and God so wants for us to face the fears that can become a witnessing tools of those struggling through the same values,.
    When we look at the Apostles, we see the end product, and forget God wants us to see what He started with, King David, for example. Someone most Christians think of as so close to the value of God, yet a murderer, adulterer, liar and many other sins against God…but he confessed it for all to hear…and in doing so, became even stronger in his role God gave him.
    When I look at my life…and I reflect on my past…do I really want to be that person that just started with God, or in the process of sanctification that will make ‘iron sharpen iron’ and mold me, stretch me, anger me, make me cry in shame, make me face the face I look at in the mirror…and want to improve, want to know the truth, want to be used for God, my faults and failures that can be used, my sins that can lose the power over me, the ‘strongholds’ that Satan uses to confuse, to bring foolish pride and make me turn ignorant to what God commands, instructs, expects, demands and lovingly (tough love many times) wants me to see and wants to point out by others he will place in my life…and those in my life that want nothing to do with God…but I am still called to represent Him in my words, my deeds and what surrounds me.
    This pastor could have a new beginning that shows many that ‘hypocrisy’ can be defeated in truth, and God can work with anyone who wants Him. God Bless.

  • Fresh66

    A lesson I learned many years ago after watching several high profile preachers fall. 1. Don’t put them on a pedestal 2. The devil is no respecter of preachers or what status they have. 3. Learn from others failings because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour any who profess the name of Christ. 4. Work out your salvation in fear and trembling and pray to God that he keeps you from falling on this hour.

  • Felicia AppleofHiseye Hepburn

    Oh I am so glad my GOD is the one TRUE Judge and not some of you! You would have us in hell with the worst of tortured souls. I’m sorry for the woman who was cheated on by her husband who was a pastor but does that mean all pastors are the same?! Have you never done anything wrong other than the occasional slip?! Wrong!! Try JUDGING! No wonder the Church is slipping! So many are trying so hard to point out and pull others splinters and offending because you are so blind by your PLANKS!! If he is not genuine, GOD and GOD ALONE will deal with him!! I am getting so sick of plastic Christians who are higher and holier than thou!! Remember that we ALL fall short. No one falls harder, stronger, deeper or worse!!! IT’S ALL THE SAME CHILDREN OF GOD!!!

  • Elise

    While its unfortunate that he fell.. the IMPORTANT thing is to remember that GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR EVERYONE – including pastors! THANK YOU RIZZO FOR BEING ‘THE COMEBACK KID’ and showing those who have fallen that while there is a process to endure (including unforgiving people), REDEMPTION IS POSSIBLE! God bless you for your strength and perseverance!

  • GraceGuy555

    I can think of few things more ridiculous than Christians who have received grace and mercy through the cross of Christ and will boldly go to the throne of grace and receive mercy in their time of need will eagerly and unmercilessly, with hardhearted unforgiveness boldly block access to that place of forgiveness redemption and restoration to another. You may call the mistakes of others disgraceful but what is truly disgraceful is Christians spewing hateful condemnation rather than embracing the power of the blood of the Lamb to bring forgiveness, restoration and wholeness. You may think your statements are against this or that fallen minister but what you are really doing is exposing your lack of faith in all that Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary!

    • NavyDad77

      He will eventually have to admit that he was not restored properly and was part of the cover up. That will take guts! I will be the first one to forgive and offer grace.

  • GraceGuy555

    Of course that post should be eagerly and “unmercifully” or “mercilessly” take your pick.

  • Guest

    One thing ministry has taught me is that those who are quick to condemn instead of restore always have the deepest sin issues.

  • JVL

    If ministry has taught me one thing it is that those who are quicker to condemn than restore have the most to hide. This would likely be the case of many of those who have commented. It is a dangerous way to walk. Those who receive grace are those who give grace. You should probably pray that God doesn’t just decide to expose your secret sin.

    • Steven Leapley

      WELL said! we are so quick to want to receive grace and yet so often slow in giving it!

      • NavyDad77

        Grace to Dino. Absolutely as soon as he says he sinned. Grace to the leaders covering up the misdealings and behind the scenes ( alleged) pay offs. Not so fast.

    • NavyDad77

      It’s not about grace or affairs or restoration. It’s about the abuse of power by those who covered up what happened and are proactively confusing and misleading the church for the wrong reasons.

      If I believed the story they put out then I would be the first to forgive and be glad about this and bask in the grace giving goodness.

      But there are about 10 salient points about what happened AFTER this was found out that stinks rotten. Dino is not the issue here it’s the way they dealt with it and why. All the comments about grace is just playing right into their hands. The organization is manipulating the situation and allowing the organic defense to come out and quiet critics of Dino… That is a sideshow. It’s a coverup and misdirection tactic.

  • Don

    God indeed is God of a second chance.

    • NavyDad77

      Amen. That is not relevant. God has called people to be in leadership positions (overseeing the pastors that make mistakes) so that they can administer Gods word to decisions that are tough. The leaders have been operating from another motive that needs to stop and confessed. This is not gonna stay hidden for much longer but the longer these lies prevail then I am concerned the fallout will cause people to quit and this will affect people in the inner city at the Dream Center.

  • KC Collins

    I know God can restore. But everyone has a different method for responsible and accountable restoration. Lets not be so quick to condemn others on here who are of the opinion it should have taken longer. With the same anger some would condemn this man, some of you have a hate for those who would have demanded more time. I’m one of them.

    I don’t know this man. But being restored as a Christian man and being restored as a pastor are two very different things. And it IS perfectly acceptable to hold him to a higher standard. Because pastors should be able to say, “follow me as I follow Christ!” Their will be more required by such men in the end. They need all the help they can get. Yes that includes forgiveness, and quickly. But fast forgiveness and slowly proving character are not opposed to one another.

    • GraceGuy 555

      OK. How much time are we talking about here. Four more weeks? Four more month? How about 4 more years? How about never? That is the apparent stance of some of those posting comments; particularly those who prefer to give specific details of this ministers past mistakes. This is a subjective time period and the only ones who can make that call are the HPC overseers based on his adherence to and completion of their 31-point restoration plan.

      • KC Collins

        Well I e not pointed out past mistakes so don’t bring that up. Secondly I thought I made it pretty clear that it was MY opinion he should have had more time away. Give him time to fail or to be completely confident in his restoration. I’m for grace, grace guy, even though my handle doesn’t say it. I’m also for full restoration. I’ve followed this story from the beginning. We are quick, too quick, to put a man back behind the pulpit. I’d like to see some godly sorrow. A man who can’t help but show us his broken heart because of all the pain he has caused his congregation and family.

        It’s my opinion it should have lasted longer to be better proved. But I might note, for my part, I forgave him long ago.

        • GraceGuy555

          OK KC I can appreciate your sentiments. God bless you.

      • NavyDad77

        The 31 point plan is not real. Delynns dad did the counseling. He stepped in at the outset and defended his daughter reputation … That is understandable but not biblical. They were all in a tough spot but when the ARC people stepped in it got even messier. The problem is not the pastor affair it’s the deception and cover up by his buddies. And the Payoffs (alleged) and non-disclosure agreements. And the (alleged) quid pro quo for those who got or are getting their church in exchange for silence when they found out months before the affair. Pretty sure the ARC people knew about that but kept it quiet…

    • NavyDad77

      Abssolutely! The high standards apply to all the pastors involved in the cover up. They know whether or not people were accepting church plant money or control of non-profit organizations in exchange for their silence. They know who paid for the interns upscale apartment. It is alleged that the overseers had to witness him go over to her apartment before they beleived it was true. It is very tough to handle this the right way. The right way was the tough way that risked the income of the church so they seemed to have gone another way based on that. It makes sense but the fabricated stories and misdirection about the affair is awful. The further we get down this road then the more distructive the outcome when te truth overcomes the lie.

  • Pastor Paul

    If this pastor ‘admitted to an “inappropriate friendship with another woman” who was not his wife’, then it was right that he was removed from overseer of that church. He has forfeited the right to be a pastor in God’s holy church. It is absolutely right that he be restored to the fellowship of the church after admitting his sin and repenting of it, but it is not right that he be restored to a overseer position. The letter to Timothy is very clear on this (1 Timothy 3+5)

    • NavyDad77

      No. He did not admit anything. I think he was supposed to read a statement that mentioned an affair but instead he just said he was tired.

      If this guy would have come clean about the affair and moved on to some other type of ministry then this would not be a big deal. But the calculated and manipulated Cover Up is what stinks rotten and should be brought to light…

      Grace for confessed sin… But great efforts have been made to keep this quiet.

  • pete pan

    who knows, maybe 18 holes of golf and moving his 401 were part of the 31. All I Know, Paul sent John Mark home from the mission field as unworthy because he found it too hard…. YEARS later, he reconciled and Mark went on to write one of the 4 Gospels we have today. Paul also openly addressed Peter simply because he had withdrawn from eating with the gentiles.. Peter recanted. As far as sexual matters, Paul had a church throw a man out.. cast him to the Devil, for his sexual sin! The whole church, in hopes he would be reconciled back into the body. Ananias and his wife were struck dead for lying….

    God considers abuse against His body, the Church very much a greater sin than many. Hebrews 12 has taken many a Christian to the woodshed for punishment and restoration, not to prominence, but to humility.
    I don’t see most saying Dino should go to hell for what he did and the cover-up. Fornication and lying isn’t a speed bump in one’s great preaching career, should be a game ender.

    • NavyDad77

      What Dino did pales in comparison to what others have done (and continue to do) to cover up the church misteps and for all the wrong reasons.

      After they found out about the affair i am sure It’s tough to deal with this situation the right way but this extensive web of lies and misdirection by ARC and overseers is horrendous. The bible is clear on how this should have been handled but it seems that they consulted business manuals or political science handbooks instead.

  • NavyDad77

    Lets look at the cover up like this… The tell of two pastors!

    My current pastor is leader of an ARC church who I presented my frustration and dismay about the cover up situation. It was a decent discussion but the price that sticks out is that he characterized the affair as “it was just some text messages” …. So he is on the filtered end of of the cover up and his faith inspire of the absence of truth is understandable.

    THEN I called my former pastor and asked him for his take on the situation. He has a unique and more profound take on the situation. He also has faith that everything will be ok. But this is inspie of the presence of the truth. He ound the text messages and knows what happened and is ongoing to keep this covered up. It is astounding that he can keep his faith through all of this. He is so directly affected by this.