Monday, November 30, 2009

Everything is God's...

“Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13, NIV)

David, in this song of thanksgiving, acknowledges God’s greatness. He honors the One who is ruler over all. And he confesses this important truth: “…everything in heaven and earth is yours.”

Everything! Wealth. Honor. Strength. All that we think we possess. God’s!

Look at the things you have. You have clothes – pants and shirts and skirts and blouses and socks and shoes. Some of you own jewelry. Your wallets and purses have money in them and a credit card or two. You have a coat to wear when it’s cold outside. You own a vehicle to get you to and from work.

All these things are God’s. They are loaned to you for your pleasure and for use in God’s service should he have need of them.

I know you know this already. I’m just reminding you of the truth. It all belongs to God. Thank him for his provision.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bohemian rhapsody Muppet-style...

This video made me long for the good old days when comedy was fun! Loved the Muppets and their zany antics.

Hope in crisis...

Just over a year ago, this country received the invoice, due and payable, for its years of overspending and excessive debt. Millions have lost jobs and many now live in fear that we are beginning what might turn out to be a rerun of the “Great Depression.”

Looking at the approaching Advent Season and Year-End Inventories, it seems to me that leaders must become “Dealers in Hope.” I want to give you some handles for hope as we move forward.

This may well be an exciting time when it comes to the advance of God’s Kingdom. During a previous steep recession (1973-1976) we saw the beginnings of some of the greatest churches and ministries in America. Willow Creek Church near Chicago began in 1975. So were the Vineyard and Calvary Chapel movements. A few years later during the 1979-1983 recession, Saddleback Church began. Down economic times have frequently been up times for the Kingdom of God. This is not a time to fear, but to hope, and to anticipate what God will do in our time. Did you know that charitable giving (including church giving) did not decline during the Great Depression? Again, down times can be up time for God’s work.

I know that it will be a temptation to stop tithing. It will be a temptation to retrench or at least to not move forward in generosity. I urge you to resist that temptation, and to trust in God. There will be a special temptation to reduce giving in anticipation of what might happen—not because our income has actually declined. Please don’t give in to that temptation to sin. It really is sin because it’s a temptation to stop trusting in God to provide for now and for the future. It breaks the principle of living on what God’s provided, and giving at least 10% of income to kingdom causes. (See Malachi 3:8.)

While none of us would have wished for this time of difficulty, there is an opportunity for us, as God’s people, to model to the world that our faith is not just a ‘sunny day faith.’ Throughout the ages, it has been during times of crisis that God’s people have had the most impact. Let me challenge you to model with your life and lips by:

  • Being a person of generosity while others are hoarding (John 3:16);
  • Being consistent in faith while others are fearing (2 Timothy 1:7);
  • Showing great love and concern for your friends and inviting them with you to church so they too can find hope (1 Peter 2:12).

Remember 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Jesus repeatedly reminded us to “Fear not!” This is a time to shine like beacons of HOPE in the midst of darkness.

Dr. David Robinson, EFC-MAYM Superintendent

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Be one...

There’s a thanksgiving story in the seventeenth chapter of the book of Luke. Starting at verse 11, we have this report of the event.

“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’

“When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.

“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’

“Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”
(Luke 17:11-19, NIV)

Ten healed. Nine did not praise Jesus. One gave thanks to him for his gift.

Will you be one who gives thanks to God today?

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RadioShack finalizes roster...

LOS ANGELES — Johan Bruyneel, manager of the new RadioShack team headlined by Lance Armstrong, has finalized a 2010 team roster that includes 16 riders from 16 countries.

"It is a well balanced team," Bruyneel said of the team that will gather for the first time in Tucson, Arizona, in the second week of December.

"We have experienced riders - with some of them I worked already many years in my former teams - but we also have young talents who can develop in the perfect environment.

"I am happy that our sponsors want to invest in the future of cycling. Our main goal will be the Tour de France and other stage races but I am confident that, with these riders, we can perform very well in the one-day races as well."

Seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong announced the new team during the Tour de France. He finished third overall in the Tour while racing for Astana, his first participation in the race since securing his seventh yellow jersey in 2005, after which he retired.

Armstrong said in August that winning an eighth Tour de France title is his goal.

RadioShack team roster

Riders: Lance Armstrong (USA), Fumiyuki Beppu (JPN), Sam Bewley (NZL), Jani Brajkovic (SLO), Matthew Busche (USA), Ben Hermans (BEL), Chris Horner (USA), Daryl Impey (RSA), Markel Irizar (ESP), Andreas Kloden (GER), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Geoffroy Lequatre (FRA), Fuyu Li (CHN), Tiago Machado (POR), Jason McCartney (USA), Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ), Sergio Paulinho (POR), Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), Gregory Rast (SUI), Sebastien Rosseler (BEL), Ivan Rovny (RUS), Jose Luis Rubiera (ESP), Bjorn Selander (USA), Gert Steegmans (BEL), Tomas Vaitkus (LTU) and Haimar Zubeldia (ESP)

Sports Manager: Johan Bruyneel (BEL)

Sports Directors: Dirk Demol (BEL), Alain Gallopin (FRA), Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS) and Jose Azevedo (POR)


Monday, November 23, 2009

Our God is thanksworthy...

Our God is thanksworthy. (I made that word up!) You ought to thank him multiple times every day. I ought to do the same. His praise should be, as David put it in Psalm 34, continually on our lips. We are commanded in the Bible to “Be joyful always; [to] pray continually; [and to] give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Can you do those things? Can you be filled with joy at what God has done? Can you pray as often as your God comes to mind? Can you give thanks to him even in the difficult times? I challenge you – and me – to at least try? As I said, our God is thanksworthy!

The writers of the psalms knew that. Over and over David and Asaph and others give thanks to God. They acknowledge his goodness and love toward them. They honor him for who he is and what he has done.

Psalm 7:17, “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” (NIV)

If David praised God for his righteousness, we ought to praise him even more. He has made that righteousness available to us through faith in Jesus. We are made right in God’s sight when we believe. We are saved not by our own goodness, but by Christ’s.

Psalm 28:7, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” (NIV)

God protects you and me. He watches over us. When we see it and when we don’t. We trust in him. We must thank him for his help.

Psalm 30:11-12, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” (NIV)

When things are darkest, God gives us hope. He rescues us from depression. He restores joy. His goodness ought to be spoken. Thank him for the many ways he has rescued you.

All of Psalm 100 shouts out thanks.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (NIV)

God made us. We belong to him. We are his people because of his grace. That’s worth a little thanksgiving.

Psalm 106:47, “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.” (NIV)

Our God, in love, sent his Son to die for us. He did it so that all who believe will not perish but have everlasting life. We who will live with God forever because of our Savior’s death have every reason to give thanks. He has gathered us from this nation. He is gathering others from every nation, tribe and language group. Praise his name!

Psalm 107:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (NIV)

Has God been good to you? What has he done in your life? What has he seen you through? Whatever it is that he has done, it deserves a loud and heartfelt “Thank you!”

Psalm 118:21, “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.” (NIV)

God has answered your prayers, hasn’t he? Maybe even this week, you’ve heard a “Yes” from him. Thank him for every answer. Thank him for your salvation.

Psalm 119:62, “At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.” (NIV)

Giving thanks to God is not always what I think of when I’m awake at midnight, but maybe it should be. What better time to praise him than in the darkest times of our lives! When we are saved from heartache through obedience to his word, we give thanks to him. His righteous laws protect us every day in ways we don’t even comprehend.

There are more words of thanks in the psalms, a dozen or more additional passages, but these will suffice. These few set our hearts in the right direction – toward Heaven, the eternal home of God and of all who believe. They set our eyes on the right one – our great King who will for all eternity be praised by angels and saints alike.

Will you praise him now? Will you thank him? He is good!

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

To the rappers...

My brother's latest blog post includes a rap song that he and the folks at Cross Media Productions produced. Here's what he wrote about it...

There’s not really a job description that includes everything I do at Cross Media Productions. I may think I’m going in to an average, ordinary day at the studio, but then I’m blindsided by something out of left field. This happened recently. Pastor Marwan, who is our sound mixer-song writer-ditty singer-everything audio man, came to me the other day and said he needed help with a rap song he was putting together for Radio Al Tareeq. “Okay,” I said, little knowing what I was getting myself into. He wanted me to write some English lyrics for this song. Me, a rap song writer?! You’ve got to be kidding! So, he gave me a basic idea of what he wanted content-wise and said he needed it finished today, as soon as possible. Wow! I got a pen and some paper out and began thinking. To make a long story short, I finished it, not that day, but by the next day. After working out all the kinks, it is now finished. Maybe to my detriment, I would like to share it with you. I may still not prefer rap music personally, but I think what Marwan and the rest of the staff at Cross Media Productions is doing to reach the world is admirable. I’m sure the song will never hit number one on the charts, but you never know, it could be the one thing that someone needs to step across that line from bondage to freedom. That’s why we do the silly things we do, I guess, isn’t it? Enjoy!

Until I can get the song to post here, this
link will have to do.

The agony of defeat...

This is the most amazing cycling picture I've ever seen. It captures the heartache of Molly Cameron who crashed at the very end of a cyclocross race allowing Sean Babcock to ride to victory. (See more great black and whites of the race here.)

Bless those who have blessed you...

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3, NIV)

It is right and good to thank God for the people he’s used to bless you. Isn’t it? Even better to thank God and then thank them.

At youth group this past week we wrote thank you notes to people who had been kind to us. I want to encourage you to send a card to someone who has done something good for you or who has stuck with you through difficult times. I don’t know of any better week to do that than this one. Let those who have been God’s hands of love and mercy and blessing to you receive the thanks due them this Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Giving thanks for weaknesses...

My list of things I am thankful for is a bit different this Thanksgiving season. Having been diagnosed with ADHD on October 20, I began to read a bit about the disorder. What little information I’ve gathered so far has given me plenty to be grateful for.

Take this sentence for example: “Untreated adults with ADHD often have chaotic lifestyles, may appear to be disorganized and may rely on non-prescribed drugs and alcohol to get by.”1

Those few words make me thankful for all God has done for me throughout my lifetime. He gave me parents who disciplined me when I was young so that I learned self-control. I know I am a bit squirrelly at times, but God’s Spirit within me has kept me from many dangerous behaviors that could have destroyed me. I give God credit for the ability he has given me to focus on my work most of the time. I am grateful that God has given me many friends who tolerate my sometimes off-the-wall antics. Those closest to me are quick to forgive my sometimes insensitive outbursts and my more-frequent-than-I-like inattentiveness during conversations. I am especially grateful to God for a patient wife. I am thankful God gave me a deep-seated fear of becoming an alcoholic which led to a complete disinterest in drinking. I likely would’ve become an addict with the first sip.

I don’t say any of this to point to me. I am weak. I say it all for God’s glory. He is strong. He deserves all the praise for whatever good there is in me. It is his power that has made me who I am despite my ADHD.

God’s grace has been and will continue to be sufficient for me, just as it was for Paul suffering from a “thorn in [his] flesh”. It is sufficient for you whatever difficulty you are facing today. God’s power was made perfect in Paul’s weakness.2 It is being made perfect in mine too. It will be made perfect in your weakness if you will trust him.

To God be the glory! Great things he has done! Great things he will do! Give thanks to the Lord!

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1Gentile, Julie; Atiq, Rafay; Gillig, Paulette.
Adult ADHD: Diagnosis, Differential Diagnosis, and Medication Management. Retrieved 10-23-2009.
2 See
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 for more on Paul’s weakness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I thank God for you...

I am grateful to God today for the pastors here in Argonia.

Dave, Tom, Charlie, David, John and Robbie are all great people and they each contribute something special to the church of Argonia.

Dave’s gift to the church here is the gift of administration. He planned and organized what promised to be a very successful day of service at the schools this Saturday. Nearly fifty people are signed up because of his determination to put the church to work in the community.

Tom is our wise and deep thinker. He always urges us to think about what we’re doing. He asks the “does this fit with what the Bible teaches?” question often.

Charlie is an amazing evangelist. He is always telling people, kids especially, about Jesus. We are so blessed to have this man on our Kids Club team.

David has a heart for the poor. He’s led the Bible Church to meet the practical needs of people here and across the county. He encourages prison ministry and love for those desperate for God’s love.

John is the Alliance’s unifier. He is a peacemaker at our meetings. He is a quick-to-pray man.

Robbie is the newest of the bunch. I don’t know her as well as the others, but she seems to be an encourager. She seems to have faith that God can work in Argonia, Kansas, same as he can anywhere else.

I thank my God for each and every one of these leaders and for the many saints who love and serve the congregations they represent.

Serve God in love...

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
(Matthew 25:31-40, NIV)

We love God by serving him. We serve him by serving his people.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? If the church is, as Paul says, the body of Christ, then service to the church is love for Jesus himself. We are made one with Christ when we believe and so those who serve us serve him. If you serve me because I am a believer, you serve Jesus. If I serve you because you are a believer, I serve God himself.

In Mark 9:41, Jesus made this abundantly clear to his disciples. Listen to what he says. “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” (NIV)

Service matters. It is a very real expression of love to God. It is, in part, how we love with all our strength. Physical service is rewarded by God.

So how will you express your love through service? You might look after widows and orphans in their distress. You might feed the hungry. You might clothe the naked. You might encourage the discouraged. You might pray for the lost. You might instruct children in God’s ways. You might give to the poor. You might visit the sick. You might advise the doubting. You might work hard at the job God has given you.

God knows your gifts and abilities and he has something for you to do.

“For we [you and I] are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

When you do what God created you to do, what he designed just you to do, he is pleased. He receives your service to your brother or your sister as love and he will reward you for the love you have expressed to him.

Every believer is given at least one spiritual gift. Your particular gift mix was given to you by God for a purpose. Do you know what that purpose is?

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 tells you and me why we were gifted by God for certain tasks. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (NIV)

Your spiritual gift is yours so that you can serve me and every other believer. My spiritual gift is mine so that I can serve all of you. We each, in turn, serve our brothers and sisters in Christ for the good of the body. And when we serve each other, we serve God. When we serve God, we show our love for him.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Love God with worship...

“…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24, NIV)

Worship is one way we express our passion for God. If you love God, you will worship him, not just with your lips, but from your heart. You will praise him for who he is. You will thank him for what he has done for you. You will honor him with every good thing he has given.

Worship in spirit and in truth flows naturally from the transformed souls of the saved. What that worship looks like will vary from believer to believer.

Some will stand and exuberantly shout out their praise. Some will sit silently before God as their heart sings for joy. Some will find words to express their love in the Psalms. Some will, like King David of old, create their own love songs for God. Some will raise their hands to honor the one who set them free from the bonds of sin. Some will bow low and weep when they encounter their beloved King. Some will actively seek the company of other spirit and truth worshipers. Some will steal away alone to pour out their love to God.

All these are legitimate ways to worship if they are offered up from a heart set ablaze with godly passion. All please the Father. All honor the Son. All glorify the Spirit.

How ever you best worship God, do it from your heart. Don’t let fear of what others might think keep you from truly honoring your maker as he’s designed you to honor him. Your unique praise words and praise actions joined with the unique praise words and praise actions of the millions of believers living on this planet right now and the millions who have died and surround God’s throne are a sweet, sweet sound in God’s ears. He hears them all together and delights in his lover’s heart cries.

If we could hear what he hears, we would be overwhelmed with the beauty of the love expressed to him. If we could see what he sees, we would be amazed at the goodness and grace that brings him praise.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, NIV)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Triple Iron 422...

Triple Iron 422 Promotional Video from FCA on Vimeo.


I discovered, quite by accident, a great social networking site for those who like to log their workouts and encourage others in their pursuit of fitness. There are specific communities for athletes, runners, cyclists, triathletes and walkers. You can post a goal and work toward it. Log on to and add me - openmikey - as a friend.

Obedience is love...

When I think of love for God, one of the first passages that comes to mind is 1 John 5:1-5. I think of this group of verses right off, because I was surprised a few years back by what John said here. His words were not what I expected when I thought of how we’re supposed to express our love for God. Perhaps they’ll surprise you a bit.

Here’s what God inspired John to write…

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:1-5, NIV)

Obedience is an expression of your love for God. You follow his commands because you do not want to grieve the one you love.

God sent his Son, Jesus, to earth out of love for you and me. He sent him to die for your sin and mine so that sin would no longer have power over us. When you or I choose sin, it causes a rift, a separation of sorts, in our relationship with God. God’s holiness is offended, his heart is broken.

If you are a believer, you will sense that brokenness very soon after you choose sin. Conviction of sin and guilt, both the work of the Holy Spirit who lives within you, will come quickly. When you sense conviction, the loving response to God is sorrow which leads to confession and repentance. Those who love God admit they’ve sinned. God-lovers turn away from sin and receive mercy. They are renewed and refreshed as God restores them to full fellowship with him.

Do you love God? Show it by your obedience. If you trust him, walking away from sin won’t be hard. Following God’s commands is not burdensome for his children. He helps those who have believed in his Son.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV)

God is good, isn’t he? He calls us to express our love for him through obedience, then, out of his love for us, he empowers us to do what he’s called us to do. I choose in love to submit to this great God’s commands. I will seek his help when temptation comes. I will repent when, in a weak moment, I sin. I want to remain in close fellowship with God.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The loved and hated ride...

Today's bike ride deserved a post of its own. There was a lot to love and to hate about it. Below are lists of the fun and not-so-fun things about the 16.38 miles I rode.

Things I loved about today's ride:
  • My bike did not care that it was 33.8 degrees out with a below-freezing wind chill.
  • I remembered that I owned a pair of thermal biking socks before I left the house.
  • My cyclocomputer did not fail me halfway through the ride.
  • I hit my maximum speed of 33.2mph on the flat stretch just outside of town.
  • My "friend", Evil Dog, did not see me when I turned around in front of his house.
  • I did not get buzzed by a Danville Co-Op pickup today.
  • My 24.5-minute return trip average speed was 19.9mph.
  • I ended up with a crease on my forehead from my skull cap.
  • My toes and fingers did not turn blue.
  • I was told I was crazy by a teen as I raced past the high school.

Things I hated about today's ride:

  • My face went numb somewhere around Drouhard's house.
  • I had to get out of the saddle to eke out 12.3mph heading northwest into the wind.
  • My 34.0-minute outbound trip's average speed was a measly 14.4mph.
  • I forgot to drink any of the ice cold Gatorade I brought with me.
  • My sweat glands went into hyper-production mode before I arrived home.
  • I did not have a friend along to share the pain.
  • My overall average speed was only 16.7mph.
  • I had to unzip both of my coats and pull out the garage door opener before it would work.
  • My cheeks were stung once or twice by occasional bursts of almost-frozen rain.
  • I had to stop riding and go back to work.

Love God so it shows...

“The most important [commandment] is this…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30, NIV)

What does this kind of love for God look like?

I remembered cheering wildly for Jesus one year at a high school summer camp. Back and forth across the aisle we shouted out our devotion, each side trying to outdo the other. Louder and louder we screamed. “We love Jesus, yes we do! We love Jesus, how ‘bout you?”

Is that what it means to love God with all we have?

I’m sure at times heart-soul-mind-strength love for God might look something like that…for some, but not for all. For every believer there’s a slightly different answer to the how-to question. We are each one of a kind. We have our unique way of showing love to God. We express our soul’s longing for him in a variety of ways.

How you show the love that’s in your heart depends in part on the personality God gave you. How you engage God in your mind is shaped by the way God wired your brain. How you use your strength for God’s glory depends on the gifts and skills and talents you’ve been given.

Think about what your life. Can others tell that you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Is your obedience to this Jesus-identified greatest commandment obvious?

I mean, if you really, really love God, it ought to show, right? If your heart, soul, mind and strength are given to anything or anyone, there has to be evidence that others can observe. It’s impossible to hide the exuberant, bursting-at-the-seams kind of love Jesus commends. Even if you’re quiet and reserved normally, it’s going to show. People are going to see it in the way you talk and act, in the way you go about your day.

So commit yourself right now to just one thing: figuring out how God designed you to love him. Then do what he’s made you to do. Glorify him. Love him. Enjoy him forever.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blocked again...

I’m having a terrible time writing my sermon again. Writer’s block is a constant companion to this pastor. Not sure why. I don’t like it. But nearly every week it’s there. I struggle to get started. I get drowsy. I space off. I’m distracted.

I could blame it on my newly acquired diagnosis. “It’s my ADHD!” But as you can see, I can write. I can type letters in the proper sequence to say something. I don’t even need an important topic like salvation to write about. I can blabber on and on about writer’s block and produce two or three paragraphs in a matter of minutes.

So why do I so often come to an impasse when writing a sermon? I’m going to take a wild guess and say, “It’s spiritual warfare.” The devil does not want me to have something new and fresh and God-honoring to say on any given Sunday. He doesn’t want Jesus’ name to be exalted. He doesn’t want the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives. He doesn’t want believers to realize who they really are: God’s children!

So now I’m writing. My fingers and my mind are warmed up. What will I say? What will God say through me? God help me! I’m praying for direction, inspiration, words, power!

A little bit of God...

Nowhere in Scripture do I see a "balanced life with a little bit of God added in" as an ideal for us to emulate. Yet when I look at our churches, this is exactly what I see: a lot of people who have added Jesus to their lives. People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join them on their life journey, to follow them whever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before. The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives. Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us. He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life.

From Forgotten God, by Francis Chan (p. 122)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lance almost quit...

Johan Bruyneel has revealed how close Lance Armstrong’s comeback this year came to being curtailed after the Texan broke his collarbone in the Vuelta a Castilla y León.

Few know Armstrong better than Bruyneel, who is very much part of the cancer survivor’s inner circle having guided him to seven Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005 as directeur sportif of the US Postal Service team. The pair hooked up again at Astana this season, and in 2010 Bruyneel will undertake a similar role at Armstrong’s new outfit, Team RadioShack.

In a remarkably candid interview with the Belgian magazine Humo, Bruyneel said that Armstrong came very close to throwing in the towel on his comeback after his accident, and it was only after the Belgian texted the cyclist with one of the Texan’s favourite aphorisms that Armstrong reconsidered, Bruyneel telling him “pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”

Lance Armstrong had apparently been on the verge of abandoning his comeback, with his hunger to compete having vanished, according to Bruyneel, and no-one in the US managing to convince him otherwise. The Texan went on to finish 12th in the Giro d’Italia and stood third on the Tour de France podium in Paris, won by team-mate Alberto Contador after a fraught three weeks in which the fractures in the Astana team were all too visible.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

God's will for now...

I think a lot of us need to forget about God's will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit's leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today's decisions.

It is easy to use the phrase "God's will for my life" as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It's much less demanding to think about God's will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It's safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.

Francis Chan (Forgotten God, p. 120)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The work of God on display...

The story of a man born blind is found in John 9. The man is spotted by Jesus' disciples and they ask Jesus nonchalantly, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Jesus' reply blows me away...and gives me hope.

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

Not every "bad" thing that is in this world is truly bad. Some things which are "bad" are truly good because, if God steps into the situation as he does here, the world sees God's goodness in the most amazing ways.

Jesus heals the man a short time later. Puts mud on his eyes and tells him to wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. The man does as he's told and when he reaches for the towel after the washing he can see the towel! He can see!

And boy does God get some glory from him. His parents hear what has happened. The crowds hear. The Pharisees hear. God is praised by some, cursed by some, but he is seen by all.

Whether I was born with ADHD or developed it over time, I do not know. What I do know is that this has happened, I have been diagnosed, so that "the work of God might be displayed" in my life. Watch and see what only the One and Only can do!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

25 things to love about ADD...

Ok, so I promised myself I would turn every conversation I'm involved in into a conversation about my ADHD diagnosis. I didn't say I wouldn't go overboard on my blog, however, so here's another ADHD post. (I borrowed this from ADDitude Magazine's website.)

25 Things to Love About ADD, by Bob Seay

1. Insomnia makes for more time to stay up and surf the net!
2. The drive of HYPERFOCUS.
3. Resiliency.
4. A sparkling PERSONALITY.
5. Generosity with money, time, and resources.
7. A strong sense of what is FAIR.
8. Willingness to take a RISK.
9. Making far-reaching analogies that no one else understands.
11. Possessing the mind of a Pentium—with only 2 MBs of RAM.
12. Pleasant surprises due to finding clothing (or money or spouses) you had forgotten about.
13. Willingness to fight for what you believe in.
14. Being FUNNY.
15. Being the last of the ROMANTICS.
16. Being a good conversationalist.
17. An innately better understanding of intuitive technologies, such as computers or PDAs.
18. Honestly believing that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
19. Rarely being satisfied with the status quo.
20. Compassion.
21. Persistence.
22. Joining the ranks of artists, musicians,entrepreneurs and other creative types.
23. Always being there to provide a different PERSPECTIVE.
24. Excellence in MOTIVATING OTHERS.
25. Being highly organized, punctual, and generally responsible (OK, so I lied!).

The ADHD brain...

As I flew across the country this afternoon, I was reading the Fall 2009 issue of ADDitude magazine today. In one of the articles, a writer with ADHD described his brain this way: "I have a Ferarri brain with bicycle brakes."

I laughed and then thought, I've got to post this on my blog. So I've done it. I can't give a page number though. I don't remember which article it was in. Ha!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ADHD: Gift or curse?

You can always start a debate amongst a group of people with ADHD by asking whether ADHD is a "disorder" or a "difference." Is it a curse or a gift? It's everyone's favorite topic, and everyone has an opinion. Actually, I have two opinions. Like many big questions, the answer lies somewhere not just in the middle but at both ends.

On the positive side, if treated, ADHD doesn't usually have to ruin your life. What's more, there are lots of skills, abilities and characteristics that routinely come with ADHD, and which most people find appealing. This is why in debates about treating children, we always hear warnings about "taking the spark" out of some "Huck Finn" type of child. Never mind that Huck is a fictional character, and that if you had to raise him as your own, you would be a rather frustrated parent. Still, Huck has a charming perspective on the world, a winning way with people and an infectious enthusiasm for life. These qualities often do translate over to the real life people with ADHD.

But at the same time, ADHD is defined by symptoms. In the book of diagnoses, a person doesn't even qualify as having ADHD without "significant impairment." If it doesn't get in your way, it's not ADHD. This is literally "by definition." There also doesn't seem to be a "fully treated" ADHD yet. Treatments are clearly not fully "normalizing." We can just reduce symptoms. Usually a person comes upon the diagnosis because things have been going significantly wrong. The person who is being diagnosed is not naive about what they are up against. Hopeful "gift" sermons might meet with skepticism.

I suspect that virtually always, the person with ADHD has experienced significant shame in their life, about things that they were not able to do, and which came easily to others. One part of the difficulty is that the disorder is largely "hidden." ADHD adults say things like, "If I were in a wheelchair, people would understand how hard I have to try, but nobody gets it with ADHD." Furthermore, the debilitating aspects of ADHD are usually also confusing for the person who has it. As children, we cannot figure out on our own that we are disabled by ADHD. Instead, we erroneously attribute our own behavior to "bad character," lack of motivation, or worse.

Because of this, a central experience of ADHD is humiliation and shame. That sounds harsh, but it is crueler to ignore that, to date, the experience of shame is nearly inevitable. The depth to which our culture condemns the incapacities which ADHD brings remains largely unfathomed.

So why do I insist that ADHD is still "a gift" as well? It could be sentimental compensation for enduring what is clearly a big problem. But I have two other much better reasons.

It does bring gifts. I have frequently heard people with ADHD say that they know they see something in the world that nearly everyone else is missing. I don't think this is just a cheap self-aggrandizement, to make up for their pain. I think it is often true.

There are two more bits of good news here. I don't think that treating the ADHD makes these go away. And second, these really are the gifts that we find idealized in children like Huck Finn, or maybe like Harry Potter. They are hard to explain to the "muggles" who don't live in this wizard's world, but they are intuited and revered there, even as the wizards of ADHD suffer them like a secret scar.

My second reason for seeing ADHD as a gift may be a harder sell. I once quipped, "ADHD is God's way of teaching you humility." I think I came up with this after having to apologize for and explain something that I did which was indeed inexplicable. I slowly realized that there is some benefit in knowing that you can't control all the aspects of your life. This is despite the fact that you would like to and that society demands it of you. You have limits. You make mistakes.

"ADHD has the wickedly strange ability to
force the understanding of our challenges.
With luck, we then turn to studying our strengths."

In these modern times, when the concept of hubris is considered quaint in some quarters, a touch of humility may be a great gift indeed. But the trick, of course, is how to transform experiences of humiliation into the wisdom of humility. Often enough, they instead lead to greater defensiveness, arrogance and the hubris we would like to avoid. I think that the secret is to learn to accept our limitations, even at the moments when everyone else continues to condemn them. With acceptance of our limitations comes a new hope for our realistically appraised capacities.

Nothing takes a person further from him or herself than trying to perfect the challenged parts of him or herself that he or she doesn't understand. And nothing brings a person home as much as discovering his or her true strengths. ADHD has the wickedly strange ability to force the understanding of our challenges. With luck, we then turn to studying our strengths.

As we find our limitations, I think we are also more inclined to find the interdependencies we have with other people. ADHD will enforce asking for help. My personal goal is to say "thank you" at least as many times to those who help me out as I am obligated to say "I'm sorry" to those whom I disappoint. Once a person has to acknowledge that they cannot master everything by themselves, the door is open to seeing how universally we need to consider each other's strengths and challenges. In that, I believe, is a truer dignity than we might have gained otherwise. It can also lead to deeper and more rewarding relationships.

Gift or curse? Sometimes a gift feels like a curse. Sometimes a curse is a gift in hiding.

Guest Blogger, Lew
(Originally posted on the You and Me...and Adult AD/HD blog.)

Ask for living water...

May I have a word with those of you who think you’re far too sinful to be saved, too far gone to be of any use to God? My words today are for those whose life, whose thoughts, are dominated by one thing: shame.

The Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well was immoral enough. She was an idol worshiper like every other Samaritan. That’s why the Jews hated this group of people so. They were defilers of the one true religion. In addition to all this, this particular woman was – how do I put this politely? – a promiscuous woman. She’d been married and divorced, married and divorced, married and divorced, married and divorced, married and divorced. Five husbands! And now she was in a scandalous relationship. She was shacking up with a guy. Shameful.

We don’t, of course, know all this at the beginning of John’s telling of her story. Jesus does, but we don’t. We only know that Jesus met her at noon at Jacob’s well and asked her politely for a drink of water. She’s a bit taken aback by this.

“You are a Jew,” she says, “and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9, NIV)

John throws a little commentary in at this point. He lets us know that Jews do not normally associate with Samaritans. He wants us to know how crazy, how unusual, how shocking this whole encounter is. The woman is shocked by Jesus’ request. Any Samaritan would be. Any Jew reading this account would be too.

So the woman questions Jesus and he responds. What he says is so important. It tells every sinner how to receive salvation.

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10, NIV)

What is necessary for a sinner to be saved? She must know the gift of God. What is that gift? It is eternal life. Every sinner must also know who Jesus is. Who is he? He is God’s one and only Son sent, in love, by God to the world to save sinners. Finally, every wicked woman must ask for the gift. Jesus says to ask him and he will give living water. What’s living water? It’s the Holy Spirit who gives new life, eternal life to all who ask in faith for it.

Jesus’ message to this woman is the same as his message to Nicodemus, the super-religious guy: “You must be born again.”

“You must be born of water and of the Spirit.”

Jesus is inviting this sinful woman to believe on him and ask for salvation.

A short time later, she does just that. She asks for the living water Jesus offers.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15, NIV)

Her words aren’t eloquent, but they are enough. Jesus immediately speaks of her sin. This is where we learn that she’s had five husbands and she’s sleeping around with a sixth. She confesses freely her sin. Nicodemus never did that. He was afraid of being exposed. She confesses and is set free.

You can see that in her response once her conversation with Jesus ends. She runs to town and joyfully tells everyone about this guy who knew everything about her and, it’s implied, still loved her. Her testimony is so convincing that the whole town comes out to see Jesus. Some of them believe on Jesus because of this woman’s testimony. More believe because of Jesus’ words.

“They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:42, NIV)

Here is the truth from the Bible that I want you who think yourself a disappointment to God to hear: God loves you and wants to save you from your sin. Love for sinners like you and me is why God sent his Son. He sent Jesus to save and not condemn.

God knows everything you’ve ever done and still he loves you and wants to save you from your sin. He’ll take you right were you are. You don’t have to straighten your life out first. Ask him in faith for eternal life and he will give it. And you’ll find that eternal life, living water, whatever name you give it, was just what you were looking for. Your new relationship with Jesus will quench the thirst that led you to sin. You’re looking for love in all the wrong places. What you so desperately want is found in Jesus. Not in disbelief or false religion. Not in sex outside of marriage. Not in drunkenness or drug addiction. Not in gossip or envy. Not in hatred or fits of rage.

God knows everything you’ve ever done and he still loves you and wants to save you from your sin. That, plain and simple, is the good news. Sinners do not have to spend eternity in Hell. God, in love with every man and every woman caught in sin’s trap, has made a way for them to have eternal life.

“…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NIV)

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Planned Parenthood director resigns...

The [Bryan, TX] Planned Parenthood clinic [where Abby Johnson worked] was the location of the first-ever 40 Days for Life campaign in the fall of 2004, and the prayer and fasting initiative has been held outside the doors of Johnson's former workplace 5 additional times....

PP has gone to court to seek a restraining order against both Johnson and the Coalition for Life, the local group that originated 40 Days for Life and continued regular prayer vigils in front of the clinic for the past 5 years. A court hearing on the order, which addresses disclosure of confidential information, is scheduled in a Texas court on November 10.

Shawn Carney, the director of the Coalition for Life and a 40 Days board member, has been working with Johnson since she left her job last month. The former clinic director has even begun to pray outside the clinic where she formerly worked....

Johnson is one of 8 abortion industry workers who left their jobs during the 5th coordinated 40 Days campaign that concluded yesterday in 212 cities. She was the highest-ranking of the 8. Others who quit their clinic jobs included nurses, office staffers and security personnel.

In addition, a PP abortion facility in Kalispell, MT, announced it will close its doors on November 20, citing a decline in business as the reason for the closure. That clinic was the site of a 40 Days prayer vigil this past spring.


Always able to give thanks...

I am trying a new outlook with a new month. I want to have a Thanksgiving in my heart always.

Here are some things I've been thinking about lately. For those of us who are Christians, we will always be able to give thanks. Following Christ isn't easy, in fact, we are guaranteed that we will suffer in one way or another if we do give our lives to Christ. I know of Christians who have suffered, and who are currently suffering unspeakably horrible things. But as Christians, we really can "give thanks in all things". Because will never experience the worst.

We will never suffer alone.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. Isaiah 43:2

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses. Hebrews 4:15a

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:52.

We will never suffer fruitlessly.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 2 Cor. 4:17

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Rom 8:28

Our suffering is temporary.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

Thank you Lord that whatever happens, I will always have something to thank You for!

Guest Blogger, Heather

Confessions of a recovering Pharisee...

It’s confession time. Since I wrote about Nicodemus and gave him a hard time, I've got to come clean. Growing up, I was a Pharisee just like him. I thought myself morally superior to nearly everyone I knew. I was spiritually arrogant. Then Jesus stopped by for a visit one day when I was in college. Through his Holy Spirit, he confronted my pride. He showed me that it was sinful. He convinced me that it was abhorrent. And I repented. I turned away from that sin and cried out for mercy from my Savior. And I received mercy.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV)

So what do I do now when pride tries to reassert itself? I cry out to God for help. I freely confess from the depths of my heart, “I have no hope except in you, Jesus! I am absolutely dependent on your grace for my salvation! I cannot save myself!”

You must be born again...

The story of Nicodemus’ meeting with Jesus is found in John 3, but it really begins at the end of chapter 2. The last three verses of that chapter give us the back story, tell us what has happened in Jesus’ life just before Nicodemus comes to him.

“Now while [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” (John 2:23-25, NIV)

So lots of people have seen Jesus’ miracles. He’s gained followers because of his wow factor. He doesn’t entrust himself to those who are only there for the show, those who honor him for signs and wonders alone.

Then along comes Nicodemus in chapter 3. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’” (John 3:1-2, NIV)

Nicodemus is terribly polite to Jesus. He addresses him respectfully, calling him Rabbi. He acknowledges Jesus’ connection with God. He points to Jesus’ miracles as proof of this relationship.

Kind of funny, isn’t it, that we just found out Jesus doesn’t entrust himself to those who follow because of miracles and along comes Nicodemus praising Jesus’ performance of miraculous signs. I hadn’t caught that little bit of irony before a couple of Tuesdays ago when our Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader pointed it out. It’s a good reminder to all of us to forget about the chapter breaks added by men and read the whole story as God inspired it.

Back to Nicodemus. Here is a religious man – a very religious man. He was a leader in Jerusalem, a member of the Jewish ruling council, a big wig, a hot shot. He was a Pharisee. His sect, I guess you’d call it, was very legalistic, always behaving according to their version of God’s moral code. They didn’t walk too far on the Sabbath so as not to break the fourth commandment. They counted out every seed they harvested – even the tiniest of seeds – and gave exactly one tenth to the Lord at the temple. “One for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for God.” (Deep breath.) “One for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for God.” (Deep breath.)

Outwardly you couldn’t find fault with a Pharisee. He would appear to be perfect. He always followed the rules. He was an example to be followed, a model of righteousness. Watch him give generously to the poor. Listen to how eloquently he prays. Notice how pious and somber he looks as he fasts.

That’s the kind of man Nicodemus was. Prim, proper and devout.

When he comes to Jesus, he speaks formally, using respectful terms. Honoring our Master as only a Pharisee could. And Jesus slaps him in the face. Not literally. But with his words he does.

“In reply [to Nicodemus’ praise] Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” (John 3:3, NIV)

Our Master says the most amazing thing to this pious man after he’s praised Jesus’ miracles and affirmed his link to God. “What do you know of God? You’re blind to his kingdom. You have to be born again to catch even a glimpse of what you think you see perfectly.”

Them’s fightin’ words to a Pharisee. Nicodemus thought he had it all together. He gave to the poor. He prayed. He fasted. He tithed. “One for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for me; one for God.”

Jesus was not impressed. “You must be born again.”

Nicodemus’ jaw dropped. “How can a man be born when he is old?” he asks incredulously. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4, NIV)

It’s hard to tell from those words whether Nicodemus is taking Jesus’ words literally or if he’s asking how a man can change who he is after years of religious training. It doesn’t really matter though. Jesus answers the man’s questions with these words: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5, NIV)

We can debate what Jesus meant by “born of water.” Does it mean natural birth? Does it mean repentance? Does it mean baptism? But none of that matters. What matters is being born of the Spirit and that requires believing on Jesus. That’s clear from what Jesus tells Nicodemus a short time later.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18, NIV)

When Jesus says, “You must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God,” he means you must believe in him to receive eternal life.

So you who are fine upstanding citizens; you who are devoutly religious; you who are just plain nice – you must be born again! You cannot get into Heaven on your own merit. Doesn’t matter how good you’ve been. You have to believe. You have to put your trust in Jesus who died for your sin of pride, for your sin of self-righteousness, for your sin of disbelief in God’s one and only Son.

If you are trusting in your religiosity and your good behavior to get you past the Pearly Gates, you are in big trouble. You will not see God’s kingdom. You will be condemned because you have trusted yourself rather than Jesus.

If you are a proud man or a proud woman, if you are trusting in your good works or your religious practices, your only hope is in Jesus. Turn away from your sin. Confess it. Then put your unreserved trust in Jesus’ power to change you from the inside out by his Spirit’s power. You will be saved if you believe.

Mercy awaits all who humble themselves before God and accept the gift of eternal life his love offers them through faith in his Son.

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