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Friday, November 16, 2012

The word Trinity does not exist in the Christian bible, so why is it used by Christians?
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Also there is a similitude of a Trinity shining in the body, soul and spirit. ~ George Ripley

 
Trinity, one of the central concepts that Christians consider to be true, is that of the Trinity.

Yet this is also one of the most confusing!

What is the “Trinity”?

It is a word that describes three, and is often described as a triangle with three equal sides.

Three that are the same, yet are not! Western thinking does not like the illogical aspect of this statement. We don’t like paradox’s that cannot be resolved. Today, confusion is not considered good in any way and statements like this, lead to confusion.

Perhaps we need to think about this?

“God is three in one” is a statement of the trinity that causes this confusion.

It is interesting in that the concept grows from biblical statements, and yet is never actually stated in the bible.

The word was first used about 170 A.D. in Christian circles by Theophilus of Antioch in his writing to Autolycus, but it was not used then in the exact same context as it is used today. We need to wait for the 3rd centaury for Tertullian to get the modern usage as being used for the first time. Tertullian used it to explain that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are of one essence.

This is based on scriptural statements such as...

Matthew 28:19 So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

which suggest three have the same influence.

Paul the apostle states 2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace shown by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love that God has given us, and the sharing of life brought about by the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Then there is the important Old Testament command Deuteronomy 6:4 Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is the one and only God.

This concept of three in one is not explicitly stated in our bible but is something we understand.

There are numerous discussions in the bible narratives that link these three persons in the same narrative, but they do not necessarily link them as one but as three persons.

Examples of these are when Jesus was baptised and the Father spoke and Holy Spirit appeared(See Matt 3:16–17, Mark 1:10–11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32), when the angel appeared to Mary (Luke 1:35), and then that wonderful statement in Hebrews which says;

Hebrews 9:14 But Christ offered himself to God without any flaw. He did this through the power of the eternal Holy Spirit. So how much more will his blood wash from our minds our feelings of guilt for committing sin! Sin always leads to death. But now we can serve the living God.

Stephen just before he dies is described as follows in Acts 7:55 But he was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory. He saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand.

I believe this concept needs to be developed and worked at by each of us that want to understand the trinity. Perhaps God never specifically wanted us to think we can come to grips with this, as it engenders an understanding of the simple fact that we can never get to, or understand, who God fully is.

By providing a set of statements from which this logical deduction can be made, but not explicitly telling us how to deal with it, our puzzlement as we consider the situation actually expands our understanding of God, by the process of forcing us to consider the components of the information left out.

We need to understand we cannot understand!

This is the truth of the situation. We understand, but at the same time know we don’t! Not neat, not tidy, but enforcing an ongoing process of consideration that activates and leads us into deeper thinking. That’s what God wants for us. To be thinking individuals who love him!

Today, as we struggle to deal with concepts and work our minds around aspects of God, life, and serving others, let’s know that God wants us doing this task. His love for us is also shown in what he leaves us to do, rather than giving us everything worked out. Like a good parent allows a child to figure out what they already know, so that the child can enjoy the process, God allows us to work on some of these complex concepts and enjoy the challenge and investigation.

So, rather than try to resolve this confusion about the Trinity, I have simply set out it’s components for you to resolve as best you can!

Let’s go and apply our God given talent to figuring out how we can integrate God the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit into today’s activities.
Fri, November 16, 2012 | link          Comments

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Who was Paul?
    
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A large part of the New Testament is written by Paul, and he features significantly in Acts in the bible.

What do we know about him and his origins?


A paper from the archeological society[1] report that was taken from Dr. James Tabor’s blog, investigates this in depth.
 My blog is a simple summary using the information that he referenced from the bible.

Paul was born, according to bible, in Tarsus and had the name of Saul.

There is some contention on this birth location, since a fourth century historian, Jerome, says otherwise in a non-biblical account. He suggests Paul moved to Tarsus as a child. Since 300-400 years is a long time, I tend to trust the bible accounts, which were all written within about 130 years of Jesus birth. Paul’s name being Saul is supported by the fact that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, This was the tribe where Saul had been King. It is likely his parents would have named him after this important Hebrew man.

There is some evidence to say Paul was of similar, or slightly older age than Jesus and in the letters to Philemon he points out, “It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—“[2] Philemon 1:9

An old man was a reference to anyone who had reached about 60 years of age or older.

Paul comments about himself that he was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”[3] and this is supported in 2 Co 11:22

He was not married at the times of his writings and so probably never did “I speak to those who are not married. I also speak to widows. It is good for you to stay single like me” 1 Corinthians 7:8

We know he was against the Christians in the beginning of his life because he reports it as “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.”[4]

Then during this activity, he experiences seeing Jesus and this changes his life. His report of this experience, which is detailed in Acts, is reported by him again in Galatians as

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.

12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia.
 
Later I returned to Damascus
.
18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.

23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

2 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.

2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain
.” Galatians 1:11-2:2

This is a great summary by Paul of his life. It picks out what he considered important. It shows a man who had changed direction in his life significantly. A man who understood an “about turn” switching from killing Christians (we know he was there when Timothy was killed) to being full out focussed on telling others how amazing and important Jesus is.

The trips he talks of to Jerusalem were probably about A.D. 40 to meet Peter and James, around A.D. 50 and then around A.D.56 where he was arrested and sent to Rome.

Paul claims to have had incredible experiences of God “I want to talk about what the Lord has shown me.

2 I know a believer in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven 14 years ago. I don’t know if his body was taken up or not. Only God knows. 3 I don’t know if that man was in his body or out of it. Only God knows. But I do know that 4 he was taken up to paradise. He heard things that couldn’t be put into words. They were things that people aren’t allowed to talk about.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-4

Paul had a disability So I was given a problem that caused pain in my body. It is a messenger from Satan to make me suffer. 8 Three times I begged the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, but we are not sure exactly what it was.
 
So, while Paul being an apostle healed others miraculously, “You can recognize apostles by the signs, wonders and miracles they do. Those things were faithfully done among you no matter what happened” 2 Corinthians 12:12, he did not get healed himself.

He experienced many hardships quoting them as follows, Are they serving Christ? I am serving him even more. I’m out of my mind to talk like this!

I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more often. I have suffered terrible beatings. Again and again I almost died. 24 Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip. 25 Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea.

26 I have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger from people from my own country. I have been in danger from those who aren’t Jews. I have been in danger in the city, in the country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers.

27 I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27

He worked manually for a living, probably with leather as a tentmaker. He ended up getting sent to Rome where he was put under house arrest.

There is much written about Paul, yet the summary of his life is that he loved God, Jesus, and others to the point of being willing to die.

He was not afraid to speak his mind and we know he was an incredible thinker. He provided the linkage that took what Jesus had done and said, and formalized it into how this could be applied daily. He focused on the “out” group, moving the focus from the Hebrews to everyone.

He showed that a formal bible background, empowered by Holy Spirit makes a powerful person that can be used mightily by God.

This should encourage us all to immerse ourselves in God’s word, to be enthusiastic in all we do, and to keep a focus on our end goals.

Paul’s story encourages us who think we have done horrible things since killing God’s people is probably one of the most horrible things people could do. Stoning them and watching them die slowly, is probably one of the nastier ways of doing this.

Yet God forgives! Amazingly, the Christians forgave Paul as well! This teaches us we can be forgiven, and the lengths we should go to in order to forgive others.

Today, let’s remember to forgive and be enthusiastic about opportunities God puts across our paths, even if some of them, don’t seem to do too much for us personally.

 We can learn from this great man, can’t we?


[1] http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/the-quest-for-the-historical-paul/
[2] Philemon 1:9 NIV
[3] Philippians 3:5-6 NIV
[4] Galatians 1:13 NIV
Thu, November 15, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We need to work, donít we?
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“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” ~ Oscar Wilde


 Are you tired, not really wanting to get out of the comfortable bed, wanting to avoid the strain of the tasks facing us today?

Sometimes as we think of work, it generates an anxiety and we almost shudder and want to turn away from it don’t we? The loads can seem excessive, the people difficult to get along with, and the time all encompassing.

Yet, as Christians, we are expected to work!
 
Work develops us and those around us economically, providing value to ourselves and our culture. Today, the more first world the country, the more that the machines and mechanical advantages supplant the human physique as the means to transform materials, and obtain the things we want. With this comes much of the modern world’s distain of physical work.

Christians should not consider physical work demeaning! In no way do we consider a carpenter or housewife, of any less value than the president of a country.

All are loved by God, and he expects us to love each the same way. All have tasks that enable our world to continue. No carpenters and this world would be without many things they desire. In North America, many of us wouldn’t have houses as many of our houses are wood framed.

Work enables us, as people, to put ourselves into perspective in the spiritual, social and psychological areas of life. It provides the tool that pits our mind, will and emotions, against obstacles that would mould us into better people. It is the very important challenger of our faith, against which we through prayer and effort and following God’s guidance, become better people. It is the interaction with life that it provides, that build us to maturity.

1 Thessalonians 5 has this to say...

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.[1]


Those who search the context of the text, may say that Paul was reflecting on work within the church. However, consider this, ....is that not work? Anyone who has worked in church environments will know there is no difference to the stresses and strains there, and in the world. The way they are dealt with may differ, but the work is no easier.

Yet, there is another text that encourages work far more seriously. Paul says...

we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” [2] 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
 
That’s fairly direct!

Paul goes on to say...

11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

Christians are expected to work! We don’t have to have only superior, complex, or academic work, to enjoy work. Ordinary work is honored as much as highly specialized work.

The attitude and involvement with which work done is the important part. It is done for God, not for men. We work for God, while serving others. They are not our Boss, God is!

That’s why we try to pay attention to detail. That’s why work is prayed about, crafted carefully, and done with joy. That’s why we need to think about what we complain about, and how!

Hopefully we all have work to do! With some it is harder to get and maintain a job than for others. Today I pray for those searching for work. Let’s remember however, that the term work does not only mean effort for which we get paid. It is the term for all effort we put into life to improve situations.

Every one of us can work! Every one of us should! God expects no less.

Holy Spirit goes along with us into our work environments. God sees the way we are treated or mistreated. He will change things, if we need them changed. If he could take the Israelites out of Egypt when the overlords got too abusive, he can move us to the right places in our life.

Let’s trust him to do so.

Our focus should be on applying Godly principles to what we do.

So how about we go do it today?


[1] 1 Thessalonians 5 NIV
[2] 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV
Wed, November 14, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Doesnít Petraeus wish he had read the 1 Thessalonian writings?
    
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“the scandal involving Petraeus - a retired four-star general who had Allen's job in Afghanistan before moving to the CIA last year - could expand much further than previously imagined”[1] Reuters-US

“There but for the grace of God go I” ~ paraphrasing John Bradford

Enticement into pleasure is an easy place into which many people stumble. From the greatest to the most simple, people are all enticed by desires that they let run wild.

Desires for pleasure running unchecked, lead into debauchery ( a term not used much today). Debauchery is excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.

When we fail to put checks and balances into place when feeding our senses and desires we fall into debauchery don’t we?

Have you ever fallen into debauchery?

Probably! I know I have!

Not the sexual ones, but definitely the love of pleasure as a child got, me into too much candy and resulted in becoming ill. Then later, as a young adult, I had the same misfortune with alcohol.

Every had those experiences?

We have times where we fail to treat ourselves correctly, simply because we want to pleasure ourselves.

Excesses left unchecked, damage us!

Then Christ intervenes in our life and suddenly we find new pleasures!

The types of pleasure that we can let run unchecked without harming anyone else or even ourselves.

Joy, peace, the love of helping others and seeing others helped. Care for those we connect with each day. We develop a need to connect deeply with people and not superficially.

These are pleasures we can allow to expand and envelop our lives. We move deeper and deeper into love of God, and with that, the love of others that ultimately builds our ability to love ourselves.

Then when we are in this situation of living love, where do we go, and what do we do?

The 1st  letter to the Thessalonians has advice. Paul says in chapter 4...

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.[1]

This is from the NIV bible, but the bolding is my addition.

We need to dedicate our lives to God, as we love God and others.

We need to stay away from sexual immorality, enjoying sex with our life partners, but being true to them and avoiding enticements that lead us to take our affection away from our partners. We should not steal the love we build for our spouse and abuse it with others. Sexual gratification away from our partner, is a disrespect of our loved ones.

God wants us to control our bodies. Notice it is our decisions that control our bodies. God does not want robots. He does not enforce these controls, he asks us to enforce them. They are for our good after all! I think that Petraeus has just found that out, don’t you?

We should never wrong another Christian!

I don’t know Petraeus’ beliefs. If he had ever excepted Jesus as his saviour, he certainly didn’t follow the biblical values and guidelines. He wronged others Christian by not doing so. I am sure those of Moslem and other faiths, are disgusted by what they hear.

As a Christian I feel this as well, and feel wronged because I know this is not how Christians act. Unfortunately, those with less knowledge of who a true Christian is, will label him as Christian. That hurts us all! We are responsible for more than ourselves aren’t we? We need to know that, don’t we?

Paul suggests that we should practice true Christian love, which is deeply respectful at the same time. We should mind our own business, which means first dealing with the things for which we are responsible, and not focussing on what others are doing or not doing. Everyone has their own life burdens. The way I carry mine, may not be how God has asked others to carry theirs!

By doing what we can do, we have the opportunity to inspire those that notice us, and avoid getting in the way of others who have perhaps a less Godly agenda. I have noticed even the ungodly want to have reliable people around them.

Christians should be reliable people, shouldn’t we?

Notice Paul says to work!

Paul expects everyone to pay their own way in life! He does not expect us to sit around and do nothing. The American dream of retirement to pleasure, is false! There is no pleasure in not having a deep purpose filled life. Work is a place where we can get pleasure in serving. When we are serving others, we are gaining in our Christian life!

Today, let’s head to our work, controlling our sensual urges into the correct paths and building the respect of those around us as we love them with the super-fantastic love of God, enabled by Jesus, and empowered by Holy Spirit.

Have a good day!
Tue, November 13, 2012 | link          Comments

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back up against a wall, only one course to follow, what alternatives...
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My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day's work for an honest day's pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police. ~ Margaret Thatcher

The only problem is it can sometimes be tough to pay your bills on time, right?


Sometimes
life can deal out tough blows! You know, there are times when life seems to place us on a train track, bound unable to move and we hear the train whistle blowing. The inevitable is about to happen and there is nothing we can do except pray!

Strange that this is the time we find it easy to pray, and when things are going well, we find it so hard to make the time (at least some of us find it hard to make the time).

Then that train comes around the bend and we know there is nowhere to go!

What if we were unbound and standing on the tracks?

What if the reason we were standing on the tracks was there was a bridge out around the next corner and without our intervention the train with hundreds of passengers would go over into the canyon and be killed. We need to stand on that track.

Would we do it? Could we offer our life to stop that train? Would we be able to stick it out so our death could save others? Could we see that inevitable situation through?

What would we do?


Here is a piece of bible text that talks about Jesus in a similar situation...

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.[1] John 12:20-33 NIV

Jesus stood his ground and faced death to enable many of us to have eternal life!

One life to save many!

Yet, notice that talking to God and thinking of talking to God, and God talking back giving Jesus encouragement was part of what happened!

Prayer is a good option
when we are faced with the awkward inevitable actions in life that we seem to be funneled into and perhaps we would rather not face!

Prayer is a connection with God, and these moment assist us to connect is a direct honest way, free of the traditions, wants and greed’s that so often crowd our lives, and drag us away from pure communication.

Prayer may be all we have left sometimes, and yet, it is also all we need.

The joy of having someone to talk to when the going gets tough and there is no-one else to support us. God is always there!

Bound on the train tracks, we need help from someone else. Perhaps our prayer will cause God to flip the switch turning the train aside down another track.

In my life, there have been many “train facing” moments, and many prayers.

So far, I have to say each time God has saved me! I don’t expect that to change.

It’s a wonderful experience to see the hand of God at work!

Next time we are in an impossible situation, let’s know God has a plan! Let’s know it needs our prayer to enable God to activate that plan. While God is the master of situational control and enabling good from bad, we need to become masters of talking to him and enabling this to occur.

Let’s also remember that the way he chooses to bring us through the circumstances is not always the way we desire, but it is the best way for our eternal health.

Have a wonderful God blessed day!


[1] John 12:20-33 NIV
Mon, November 12, 2012 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

By Ken X Briggs

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This suspense thriller centers on Kiara, a beautiful young woman pursued by a murderous group of people, who relentlessly and ruthlessly hunt her and her sisters. Kiara has no idea why she is being targeted! When Kiara and her family turn to the law for help, this fails. Her pursuers’ powers reach deeply into the political and law enforcement world. Family support for her dwindles when they too have to flee her pursuers. Can Kiara escape the clutches of both the law and dishonest big business? With the media broadcasting that Kiara and friends are dangerous and subversive, can Kiara clear her name and bring her pursuers to justice?

 

 
  

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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

Evil tendrils tighten on their lives and the interplay between the visible and invisible world shows opposing forces at work.

Will there be a rift in evil?

Will they be able to stop the evil in time?

 

 

 
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