Church Blog

DAY 25

Posted by Geoff Lee on Friday, 13 March, 2015 @ 11:37 PM

James 2:17-18 (NIV)

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

 

Thank you to the many, many people who live out their faith among us in a myriad of ways. Showing your faith by what you do. Actively serving the kingdom of God.

The mums and dads. Grandparents. Foster carers and adopters. Businessmen and women. Carers and healthcare professionals. The factory workers and the teachers. Those that show hospitality and kindness. Those that look out for the interests of others.

The chair stackers and the coffee servers and the children’s workers. The greeters and the meeters and the smilers and the encouragers. The Elders and the leaders. The cleaners and the connecters. The door openers and the technical whizzes. The prayers and the walkers and the talkers. The counsellors and the listeners. The givers and the sharers.

Thank you to the visitors, the phone callers, the shoppers. The gardeners and decorators. The basement clearers. Good neighbours. The turner-uppers, the offering-takers, communion-preparers, worshipers, dog-walkers, child-carers, lift-givers, bed-makers, cake-bakers, soup givers, street pastors, addiction counsellors, small group leaders, tea makers, Alpha course hosts, washer-uppers, food preparers, administrators, youth workers, debt counsellors, graphic designers, toilet cleaners, drain clearers, window cleaners, child sponsors, hamper packers, food givers…   

Feel free to add your own in the comments section below….

Thank you for every act of kindness and service and ministry and faith – seen and unseen.

Though nothing really goes unseen.

This is living faith.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Lydia said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 11:19 PM -
Thank you to Hamish, Rachel and the youth team. Today they went to Marks and Spencer's and packed bags for 6 hours to raise money for our youth. They raised £620. They were there all day because they love and believe that our youth are amazing. Hamish and Rachel we think you are amazing. You put love into action.
Psalm 84:11
For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Liz said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 6:56 PM -
How do you know he moves the chairs quietly jenny? He might be a very noisy chair mover....

Anon said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 6:54 PM -
And thank you to Geoff and Jenny too who would never seek or even expect a thankyou. Thank you for leading us faithfully and fearlessly to fulfil our potential in Christ as we live out our daily lives. You continually point us to Christ and we are so blessed as a congregation. thank you! X

Jenny said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 11:28 AM -
Thank you to the person/s who quietly moves the chairs every week for Jelly Beans toddler group and sets up our tables... I don't think we could sustain it if we had to do that every week. Thanks.

Lydia said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 8:14 AM -
Paraphrased: Don't just talk about how great God is. See the needs of those around you and do something practical to help.

Julie said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 7:49 AM -
Think you have just about covered it Geoff!

Thank you my brothers and sisters :-)

I am so very grateful to belong to a community of believers who marry faith with action. It is beautiful to our Father God and extremely attractive to a dying world. I pray that God will continue to fuel our passion to love and serve the people of Plymouth and beyond, enabling them to become wholehearted followers of Christ. May we be like trees planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in season and prospering in all that we do.

Keep on keeping on...His Kingdom is coming through us!

Marc said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 7:43 AM -
There is a great acapella song by Rich Mullins that has the refrain "faith without works is as useless has a screen door on a submarine"
I often think about what my faith looks like to others and I always think that it doesn't look like much. I may be a little hard on myself but I'm not so sure. I ask God 'Lord what does my faith look like to you'? I think the reply goes something like ; " as often as you do....
I've still got a long way to go.

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DAY 24

Posted by Geoff Lee on Friday, 13 March, 2015 @ 7:18 AM

James 1:22-25 (NIV)

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

Here is how to be blessed. Happy. Content. Joyful.

Look intently into the scriptures. Meditate on them. Gnaw over them like a dog with a good bone. Chew on them. Turn them around in your mind. Look at them from different angles. Use different words and pictures. Think about them while you are lying in bed and driving to work and going into key meetings and facing temptation and doing nothing much.

This is not a glance or a quick skim read. Forgetting what you have read even before you snap your Bible shut and gulp down your coffee.

This can’t be done in a hurry. It is slow work. Deliberate work.

Continue in these words. Night and day. Let these words go to your heart and thrive there. Let them accompany you throughout the day, into the evening, as you go to bed. Not just for a 15-minute quiet time, but let them seep into your day, leak into your leisure, be a part of who you are and what you do and where you go and what you say.

Don’t compartmentalise. God wants to be in your working and sleeping and eating and playing and resting and laughing and crying and thinking and reading and walking and driving and TV watching.

This is a lifestyle. Not a legal requirement.

Don’t forget what you have heard, what you have read, what you have listened to, what you have watched. Write it down. Pray it out. Recall it. Remember it. Tell someone else about it.

This kind of life will inform your every decision, your actions, the way you respond to your boss, the way you handle your money, the way you treat people.

What you are doing in these 40 days is setting you up for a life like this. You are learning to meditate and look intently into God’s word, you are continuing in it, you are not forgetting it, you are doing it!

You won’t feel all the benefits immediately. You will have off days, can’t be bothered days, discouraged days, frustrated days.

But if you continue along this path – you will experience greater freedom and you will be blessed!

Ric said...

Posted on Sunday, 15 March, 2015 @ 8:04 PM -
Finally, I've found something in the 40 Days, I understand! I often look at my daily reading, learn something new or see a piece of scripture from an angle I'd never considered before. So far, this week, It's really speaking to my spiritual man! Thanks Geoff for leading us in this 40 days in the word, it's been a real enlightenment to me and the Lord has shown me so many new things. Onwards and upwards

Emma said...

Posted on Saturday, 14 March, 2015 @ 9:07 AM -
The 40 days programme has been a real blessing. It has been great to try different ways to meditate on the word of God. I find that I can get stuck in a rut in my quiet times so the introduction of different methods is very refreshing.
Sometimes I can spend time reading the word of God out of duty. But recently I find I have had a desire and passion to spend more time in God's word with a desire to know the character of God more.
This morning the scripture felt as though it was written for me! I can listen, read or hear scripture and agree with it 100% resolving to follow it's instructions.
My own efforts are nothing compared to the power of the Holy Spirit and so I stumble when the challenges of life take over and the changes I have promised myself are put to the back of my mind!
I cannot do this by myself only when I allow God to work in me!
The methods of meditation in the 40 days have helped me to really absorb and consider what the Lord is saying to me . It really is changing my heart.



Lydia said...

Posted on Friday, 13 March, 2015 @ 10:18 AM -
I quite like the paraphrase version. I feel sometimes the real meaning gets a little lost but in other ways it comes alive.
Paraphrase verse 25

We must earnestly and enthusiastically put into action what we have read from the life giving words of God. We then feel God's approval and smile on what we do.

Marc said...

Posted on Friday, 13 March, 2015 @ 7:29 AM -
A prayer

Thou who art over us,
Thou who art one of us,
Thou who art –
Also within us
May all see Thee- in me also,
May I prepare the way for Thee,
May I thank Thee for all that should fall to my lot,
May I also not forget the needs of others,
Keep me in Thy love
As thou wouldst that all should be kept in mine.
May everything in this my being be directed to Thy glory
And may I never despair,
For I am under Thy hand,
And in Thee is all power and goodness.

Give me a pure heart – that I may see Thee,
A humble heart - that I may hear Thee,
A heart of love – that I may serve Thee,
A heart of faith – that I may abide in Thee.

Dag Hammarskjold

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DAY 23

Posted by Geoff Lee on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 6:31 AM

James 1:19-20 (NIV)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

Shut up and listen.

This is important.

We’re all good at talking but not so much at listening. It is really hard to find people that really listen well, that ask intelligent questions, that reflect on what you are saying and that show genuine interest in others and what they have to say.

Try to be one of those people.

Someone who isn’t always bursting to give their opinion, their remedy, their answer, even before the other person has finished formulating what they have to say.

Listen and listen well. Look the person in the eye. Try to understand what they are really saying, and maybe what they are not saying, but what they mean. Be quick to do this. Be ready to do this. You will be amazed what you can learn when you listen well to people.

Be a good listener. Be an interested listener. Be an inquisitive listener.

And don’t feel that you have to give an opinion on everything. Don’t interrupt people mid-flow. Don’t be the wise guy who has all the answers. Don’t be a bore. Show a little conversational humility. Be a little slower to speak.

There is something very attractive, very winsome, and very rare about people who are genuinely interested in you.

Be one of those people.

Shut up and listen.

And while we are talking about slowing down, be a little slower in coming to the boil as well.

Watch your temper.

You don’t have to react every time someone cuts you off in traffic. You don’t have to shout and gesticulate and come out with those choice words.

Don’t be so quick to lose your temper. Slow down.

A little more grace with your children, more kindness and consideration with your husband or your wife or your colleague. Don’t be so quick to believe the worst about others, stop taking offence.

This isn’t the way to live as a Christian – it is not pleasing to God. It’s not right.

Be slow to get angry.

My dear brothers and sisters…become a better listener, a more considered conversationalist, a more patient person – this is what God wants.

It’s a bit like a dance really. Quick…slow…slow. Quick…slow…slow.

We need to keep learning these dance steps, these rhythms of grace.

Jen said...

Posted on Friday, 13 March, 2015 @ 3:03 PM -
Here is my comment:

[blank]

:)

jill said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 11:47 PM -
My dear ones, it's time to N.B.
To listen you guys, carefully
No effing and jeffing
Let God do the reffing
And you'll be a righteous oak tree!

Lydia said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 11:33 PM -
At several times in my life I have heard God clearly say be still, listen and stop talking.

Psalm 46 v 10 says “Be still, and know that I am God."

God gave us 2 ears and only one mouth.
I once saw a poster that said
"Be careful with your words. Once they are said they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.".

I have a long way to go on this.

Julie Nash said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 10:43 PM -
So what should we do with our anger?

Tim Keller says the way we deal with anger falls into three categories:
No anger - we suppress it, causing resentment and depression.
Blow anger - we explode easily, damaging everyone in our path.
or
Grow anger - we process our anger before God and allow Him to change us and cause us to grow around it.

I see people every week in my counselling room who are angry and often with very good reason. I encourage them to write letters that they don't send to the people they are angry with, to get their anger down on paper and get specific about what they are angry about and why. It helps them be objective, find a way through, a way of letting go - forgiveness. As Christians we have no excuse, we have a God who invites us to sort our anger out with him because venting it on one another will not achieve his purposes. We have such great examples in the Psalms of how to pour out our anger before God and leave it with him.

Once again I need to practice what I preach!

Isabel H said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 5:19 PM -
Yes Geoff. Are you talking to me as well? If you aren't God definitely is.

joy pluckrose said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 3:32 PM -
Yes it is hard being slow to speak my problem is butting in when others are talking but some do waffle which I find so boring. I keep asking Gods help but it still happens then I get cross with myself! Just shut up and say it without a world tour.
I am trying hard with friends and the group I go to. I feel I am a reasonable listener. I am putting it into practice today.. So far so good .. Hope it lasts !

Marc said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 12:31 PM -
Really like Eugene Petersons introduction to the Book of James which is such a good mine of sensible advice for living well.

'When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business – and dishonest business at that. Insiders see it differently. Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. Many of the people outside the hospital are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised. It’s similar with sinners outside the church.

So Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced and dealt with.

…Wisdom is not primarily knowing the truth, although it certainly includes that; it is skill in living. For, what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it? What good is an intention if we can’t sustain it?…Prayer is foundational to wisdom.'

Barry Grigg said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 11:46 AM -
I really liked todays reading, James1:19-20. It spoke to me as I can be impatient and quick to anger. I enjoy reading Geoff's blog and the comments.

Liz Crudgington said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 8:06 AM -
Geoff, are you talking to me?!

Another challenge today. Not to talk so much. To listen more. To think before I speak. To SLOW DOWN!

I find this so hard to do. I wish I didn't. I tell myself I will, that I'll think before making a considered response. But I can't seem to help myself. There always seems to be a wise crack to make!

"Be quick to listen, slow to speak,,.." The bible makes it quite clear. Today I shall try to do this. Today I want to become more Christ like as I interact with others.

There is also great power in not speaking at all. Last year I went on a silent retreat and there is huge power in the silence. In slowing down. To lose sense of self and refocus on God. And to listen to Him. To slow down.

It doesn't always feel natural or easy to slow down or enjoy silence, but it is something I want to get better at. Jesus did it. He often retreated to a quiet place. This is not often easy and distractions come our way. As I am writing this I have a child talking to me. Apparently he needs red nose cup cakes baked this morning to take to school! So I'd better go and bake ....

Rob said...

Posted on Thursday, 12 March, 2015 @ 6:47 AM -
I heard it said that people can give offence but you don't have to take offence.

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DAY 22

Posted by Geoff Lee on Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 @ 6:32 AM

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.”

“Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God.”

As hard as it is to believe, difficult times are often times of great blessing when God does very rich things in our lives, when he strengthens the very fibre of who we are, and strips us back to an irreducible core that depends wholly on God. Times like these help us to grow up and grow strong in our faith. They develop stickability in us, spiritual strength and mental toughness – we grow from being young spindly trees to solid oaks, deeply rooted in maturity, wise in our poverty and strong in our weakness.

Is this what Jesus was talking about when he said “blessed are those who mourn….blessed are the poor in spirit….blessed are those who are persecuted…blessed are you when people insult you”?

Eugene Peterson’s Message paraphrase says that we should consider such times as “a gift”.

But before we get carried away here, this passage is not saying that we should love pain and suffering, and welcome them as our best friends. This is not some mind-over-matter, masochistic, positive thinking claptrap.

Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him.

If we follow the line of these verses we see a “because” and a “so that” phrase. “Consider it pure joy ...whenever you face trials….because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance….Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete…” 

As Elizabeth Elliot writes:

“Suffering is the Christian’s boot camp. Those who are preparing to be soldiers must give evidence that they’ve got what it takes. A gruelling course of endurance tests is set for them. Some survive and some don’t. Some decide early in the game that it’s not really worth it, and they drop out. In his wonderful chapter about grace, Romans 5, Paul tells us that we’ve entered the sphere of God’s grace and can therefore exult in the hope of the divine splendour that is to be ours. “More than this, let us even exult in our present sufferings, because we know that suffering trains us to endure” (v. 3).”

She continues:

“The apostle Peter writes, “My friends, do not be bewildered by the fiery ordeal that is upon you, as though it were something extraordinary. It gives you a share in Christ’s sufferings, and that is cause for joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13, NEB). When we remember that Peter was writing his letter to exiles, we can try to imagine all the various kinds of suffering that were involved for them. They had been banished from their homes, separated from their loved ones, and cut off from their livelihoods, all through no fault of their own. Their children had forgotten the homelands cherished in their parents’ memories. Some had died. Peter had been through a few mills himself, and understood deeply how they were feeling and the quite natural human tendency to be bewildered when you’re in the middle of trouble. Don’t be, he says. He does not deny that it is “fiery.” He calls it an ordeal. That’s honest. But he tells them it’s nothing out of the ordinary. It is what all of us ought to expect in one form or another, as long as we’re following Jesus. What else should we expect? Jesus said we would have to give up the right to ourselves, take up His cross, and follow. He said we would have to enter the Kingdom of God “through much tribulation.” (The Elizabeth Elliot Newsletter© 2002 by Elisabeth Elliot Gren)

 

Kay said...

Posted on Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 @ 12:19 AM -
"Empty in Wise Poverty" a quotation from Geoff one Sunday morning a couple of months ago which seemed to sum up exactly how I feel.I am "Empty" Grief is all consuming & threatens to overwhelm me every day. It is a very lonely dark road with fear looming in every corner! But I KNOW that God has promised NEVER to leave me or FORSAKE me, that He walks beside me through the valley, that He will give me strength enough for each day. Trust God was Richards final words of encouragement to me & I WILL trust Him & Be still & know that He is GOD. We all in our life will face trials & times of great sadness it is then that we have no choice but to put our trust in HIM to be all that He says He is!! This is my Wise Poverty!!

Lydia said...

Posted on Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 @ 7:37 PM -
Paraphrase: Whenever life knocks you down remember that you are not alone but as you focus on God’s goodness, provision and grace, his joy will surround you and pick you back up.

As a side note:
'Pure joy' is the name given to a new parenting strategy. It encourages parents to demonstrate love and show kindness to deepening their relationship with their child. It’s nothing new. It’s what God did for his children. God as our father continues to show us his kindness, demonstrate his love through his grace and continue to love us despite his greatness.

Jenny said...

Posted on Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 @ 9:16 AM -
When you think that Elisabeth Elliot's husband was brutally martyred, and she then spent two years ministering to the tribes who killed him....it leaves you kinda speechless.

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DAY 21

Posted by Geoff Lee on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 8:15 AM

The resurrection (Mark 16:1-20)

“The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death. Everywhere it is the story of resurrection.” (Eugene Peterson)

Thank you all for your continued feedback and comments, whether on the blog or via email or in conversation. I am not responding individually to the various comments on the blog, otherwise I wouldn’t get any other work done! But I am reading them all carefully and digesting and enjoying them!

Like some of you, I’ve struggled on a couple of days to spend time on this as I want to – I’ve lost my rhythm, gotten busy or distracted, or rushed things. But that’s okay. This is a relationship, not a religious ritual. And I am looking to develop a very strong habit of living in God’s word continually and making it a number one priority – way beyond 40 days.

The week after 40 days finishes, we will spend a Sunday asking the question “What next?” to make sure that we all press in and continue to develop this habit we are nurturing and developing in our lives. We don’t want to lose the ground that we have won. We will be putting together some further resources to help people. If you have materials that you have used and found helpful, drop me a line and let me know.

 

Last week I attended a funeral. I don’t like funerals. And I hate crematoria. There is nothing much about death and its surroundings to like.

I had a dream the other week. In the dream I was talking with someone that I know who has recently died. It was very vivid. I heard the words in the dream spoken by the angels to the women at the tomb: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

He is not here. He is risen.

The women in this story are coming to tend a tomb and a dead body. Instead they find an empty tomb and an angel who informs them that Jesus is not there, he is not dead; he has risen.

“The Bible …is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death…”

“It is the story of resurrection.”

Jesus was the first. We who are Christ-followers will follow him through death into resurrected life.

Death is not the last word.

But if we are looking at application (and we are), how do we actually live the resurrection life here on earth, here and now? I’ll let Eugene Peterson say it, as he says it so well…

“Resurrection takes place in the country of death.

The land of the living is obviously not a vacation paradise. It's more like a war zone. And that's where we Christians are stationed to affirm the primacy of life over death, to give a witness to the connectedness and preciousness of all life, to engage in the practice of resurrection.

We do this by gathering in congregations and regular worship before our life-giving God and our death-defeating Christ and our life-abounding Holy Spirit. We do it by reading, pondering, teaching, and preaching the Word of Life as it is revealed in our Scriptures. We do it by baptizing men, women, and children in the name of the Trinity, nurturing them into a resurrection life. We do it by eating the life of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. We do it by visiting prisoners, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, working for justice, loving our enemies, raising our children, doing our everyday work to the glory of God.”

Where there is death and hopelessness and the tending of a tomb, may you encounter the risen Christ today! May you know the power and the hope and the glory of the resurrection life in all that you do.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…” (Eph. 1:18-20)

Lydia said...

Posted on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 11:35 PM -
Last day of probe it today. I have got alot more from this than i thought. The promises are always simple and clear. So too are the commands. Thankfully jesus doesn't ask us to do things beyond our capabilities. He doesn't ask us to master great skills and become all the same. His command is simple
Jesus said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. "
Go into all the world ( reach out to the world you encounter everyday, the people you meet)
Command: preach ( proclaim or make known the good news of God's grace )
Get up and go.

Aimee Doidge said...

Posted on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 6:28 PM -
I love the way that over the 40 Days, God is blessing me with a sense that I am creating with him, a beautiful tapestry- together, through the experience we are creating something that will last. One of the most precious strands for me, runs through the image of the boy with his loaves and fishes, the widow who gave only a few cents and then the image of the woman with the alabaster perfume that she poured over the head of Jesus... each of these moments made me smile with joy because they reminded me God will take what we have and what we give and do amazing things with it- irrespective of whether it is seemingly a meagre offering; or only a couple cents- even to the other extreme of such an extravagant offering of the perfume...It is not what we give; but for me, HOW I give it- if I study the word every day, or miss one, or grab the opportunity when it arises, God can break open those moments and bless and nourish me- and others- if when I come, I come with a heart for Him and him alone. So, I have let go of worrying whether it is 'enough of my time' and instead offer everything I have in that time that we are together. And it is a joy and a delight to do so!

Marc said...

Posted on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 1:34 PM -
Last week I received a wonderful gift from God. It was something I had spent a long time working for and it gave me a huge lift in my soul as I savoured the excitement of what it brought to me. Sometimes it can seem that we work hard and receive little reward but on this occasion the risk and effort paid off and the reward was was great. I was on a high all weekend.
On Monday it seemed like God was asking me to give it away. I read through todays passage and considered the sacrifice of laying down the things we treasure and was reminded of the woman who gave away her alabaster jar of perfume and I was prompted by the Holy Spirit with the question of " are you prepared to give this away or is the foundation on which you have built your character based on achievement and attaining a perception of honour in the eyes of others"? I have wrestled with this but in the end I want my character to be built only on what God gives me and to hold on loosely to the things of this world so I will give it back to God. As Abraham with Isaac and as many saints before us have proved by their lives you have to give something up in order to find the real treasure, painful though that is, I would rather have a soft heart than a hard one.

Sue Grigg said...

Posted on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 9:58 AM -
Death is not the end, how wonderful ! I have lapsed a little the last few days with '40 days in the word' but today, I made the effort ( with God's help). Todays study has to be the most important part in the whole bible, we all try to hold onto to life, but death is something we would rather not even think about. I thank God for my life and for all that He has given me and mostly life is good. However, what great hope we have that when death comes, as surely it will to us all, then as Christians, death will just be the 'gateway' to true life as God intended. It is a comfort to know that our dear Christian friends that have passed through that gateway have followed Christ into resurrected life. Thank you Jesus for making this possible for us.

Rob said...

Posted on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 8:20 AM -
I have really enjoyed this series and have kept up even while spending a couple of days away. The "picture it" section has worked well for me although I know this has not been the case for everyone; but then this is a chance to find a way to read the Bible that each of us can enjoy. I have found the daily devotional videos very interesting (I appreciate not everyone has the Internet access). Day 21 talks about the Spirit and the word which I found uplifting as I have learnt over the years as a Christian I can't do this Christian walk on my own. If we are what we eat I should come out of this in better shape. God bless.

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DAY 20

Posted by Geoff Lee on Monday, 9 March, 2015 @ 1:05 PM

The crucifixion (Mark 15:33-39)

Congratulations! You are half way!

Half way is a good point to pause and reflect. How is 40 Days of the Word going for you? Are you finding your rhythm and looking forward to the daily readings and opening God’s word afresh every day? Are you struggling a little bit and losing pace and starting to drop back? Have you got left behind a little bit and are thinking of throwing in the towel? Have you been surprised by how much you have got out of this process and have felt yourself moving from duty to delight?

Why don’t you write some of your experiences so far in the Comments section below? The good, the bad, and the ugly! Be honest!

So far we have looked at three methods: 1) Pronounce it! – reading a verse or line of scripture slowly out loud, repeating it several times, and placing emphasis on the different words and their meanings. 2) Picture it! – placing yourself in the story as one or more of the characters, thinking about the scene, the characters, the emotions, the senses, and letting God speak to you through this experience 3) Probe it! – using the SPACEPETS acrostic to probe the text and see how you can apply it in your own life. 

You will probably prefer some methods over others, and we still have three more to try out! We are all different and will find that some methods work better for us than others. But the goal remains the same: to love the word, to learn the word and to live the word. I hope that this journey is helping you do that, and renewing your sense that God can and wants to speak to you through his living word!

This being half way, now is a good time to make any mid-course corrections needed to get the most out of the second half! Are you creating the space and time to engage properly with God and his word? Are you “seeking first the Kingdom of God” and prioritising this time over and above everything else? Are you expectant that God will speak to you? Do you need to redouble your efforts?

Whether you are flying, or struggling a bit, take it from today! If you have fallen off the bike, get back on! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Remember that he works in us to give us the desire and the power to do his will.

You are God’s child – he loves spending time with you, and he loves your flawed efforts at spending time with him!

Be encouraged. Be inspired.

You are already half way there!

Keep going.

Ric Ward said...

Posted on Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 @ 12:33 PM -
I must admit, for the first time, I've fallen behind and have 3days of Probe It to get through! I am struggling with the whole SPACEPETS thing. My flesh would like to dismiss this and move on, my spiritual man however encourages me to plough through it. The thing is, it's all good spiritual food and even starting each time with an air of reluctance, the Lord still shows me new things and equips me on my spiritual journey.

Julie said...

Posted on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 7:11 AM -
It seems appropriate that the central day to this study should focus on the central most important story in the Bible...the crucifixion and death of Jesus. I tried to really sober myself reading this very familiar text to try and grasp the humbling awesomeness of what's Christ did for us....and more personally for me!
Like Tina I love the fact that we are doing this together, whether we feel we are doing it well or struggling the 'togetherness' of the journey is encouraging and the blog really helps that.

My default is always to 'picture it' and I have struggled more with the 'probe it' method. However as the week has progressed and I have stopped trying to answer each of the SPACEPETS questions (Rick Warren is right I will never forget such a ridiculous acrostic!) and just focussed on one or two that stand out to me. it has been better.

Looking forward to moving on to the next one!

Lydia said...

Posted on Monday, 9 March, 2015 @ 12:39 AM -
I love the focus. As i work Monday and Tuesday i have always left my bible study until Wednesday when i have my first time alone in the week. It's a balance with family but like Pastor Geoff said on Sunday night it's more about priorities and making time, even on a Monday and Tuesday.
In todays reading I looked at the verse 39. This centurion would of witnessed many crucifixions in his time, yet he here he is able to see this was different and acknowledge Jesus as the son of God. Reading the same account in Luke we see the thief on the cross who acknowledges Jesus as the Christ. At a distance were also the women who had seen Jesus walk amoungst them, healing and teaching. it must of been very confusing for them all to see Jesus dying. They thought it was the end when really it was the start of something new.

Maureen Dunstan said...

Posted on Monday, 9 March, 2015 @ 10:33 PM -
Ok Geoff .. truth .. I'm floundering this week, but just want to say how much I love this blog and find everyone's comments quite absorbing. I always feel encouraged by the different view points, some of which relate to my thoughts, but some add something completely fresh and thought provoking. This week I particularly loved the post from William on day 17, which I found very moving. Thanks everyone, I'm sure I am just one of many appreciating these posts x

Neil K said...

Posted on Monday, 9 March, 2015 @ 7:46 PM -
It's been a bit hit and miss with me, the " pronounce it" method suits me best so far, struggled with the "picture it" method and like bits of the "space pets"..I feel as the weeks roll by that I'm getting more in a habit of laying time aside for God which is the whole point of 40 DITW and I want to strive for this to continue after 40 days. Just need to memorise more bible scripture!!

Tina said...

Posted on Monday, 9 March, 2015 @ 5:16 PM -
Thanks for your encouragement Geoff! I'm also really enjoying these 40 days, it feels really powerful to be doing it all together as a church.
The picture it method has been my favourite method so far and felt God speak to me most during that week. I have felt closer to him and more nourished as Kerry was talking about in today's video devotional.
What a wonderful blessing to learn ways of getting the nourishment my soul needs, after years of trying in vain to feed from worldly things that in the past have been so self destructive.

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Monday, 9 March, 2015 @ 3:38 PM -
I am really enjoying this 40 Days in the Word. Being newly retired it's a great privilege to have much more time to study the word. However I'm now spending a few days with my daughter and lively 18 month old. My daughter is expecting her second baby in 4 weeks time and so I'm trying to help her out and the 40 days is more tricky! A set time has gone out the window and I'm fitting it in when there's a moment. It's not as easy but it's still such a blessing.

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DAY 19

Posted by Geoff Lee on Sunday, 8 March, 2015 @ 8:01 AM

A woman anoints Jesus with perfume (Mark 14:3-9)

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Today is Sunday and we gather together to worship.

It’s easy to judge others who worship in a way that is different to you. In a quieter way. In a more exuberant way. Here we see the disciples and others rebuking a woman for pouring expensive perfume over Jesus in an act of sacrificial worship. Jesus gives them a good telling off! I think that we sometimes believe that people should worship Jesus the way that we do, and we can end up judging people for their exuberance, their silence, their different approach to Jesus than ours.

In his book, Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas uses biblical figures, historical church movements and various personality temperaments, to describe nine different ways in which people worship and relate to God:

• Naturalists love God out of doors. They would much rather pray by a stream, walk along a beach, or wander through a forest.

• Sensates love God with their senses. They are drawn to the liturgical, the majestic, the grand.

• Traditionalists love God through ritual and symbol. They are fed by historic dimensions of faith: rituals, symbols, sacraments, and sacrifice.

• Ascetics love God in solitude and simplicity. Let there be nothing to distract them — no pictures, no loud music — and leave them alone to live in silence and simplicity.

• Activists love God through doing things. They are energized by interaction with others and by getting things done.

• Caregivers love God by loving others. They serve God by serving others.

• Enthusiasts love God with mystery and celebration. They are cheerleaders for God and the Christian life. They don’t want to just know concepts, but to experience them, to feel them, and to be moved by them.

• Contemplatives love God through adoration. They seek to love God with the purest, deepest and brightest love imaginable.

• Intellectuals love God with their minds. They might be sceptics or committed believers, but in either case they are likely to be studying doctrines, issues, or concepts.

We will all resonate with some of these more than others. The danger is that we think our pathway, our wiring, our approach is better than others, or that others should worship Jesus like we do. We can, like the disciples in this story, become a little self-righteous and judgmental.

Alternatively, we can learn from others who are different to us and enjoy the richness and diversity of the body of Christ, from the activists to the contemplatives, the ascetics to the enthusiasts.

The call and command to each one of us is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our strength and all our mind! 

Jen said...

Posted on Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 @ 11:57 AM -
Thanks Geoff for sharing the 9 methods, really insightful.

Lydia said...

Posted on Sunday, 8 March, 2015 @ 12:18 AM -
It has been a great time in church today. It's been good to share what people are doing and hear how people are being challenged by the 40 DITW.
All I keep hearing loud and clear is application. This becomes very real when you have a 10, 12 and 13 year old at home who watch your reactions, how you talk to people, how you treat each other. It is humbling when they challenge what and how we do things. Our lives are constantly under a magnifying glass, justifying our reactions and recognising when we mess up. We gave the kids the challenge to earn $5 for every memory verse they learn which we felt was a great idea until they turned it on us to learn them too. My memory is poor and i will end up with no spending money on holiday.

That aside..
The thing that strikes me about this story is that this lady was so focused in worshipping Jesus that she lost sight of the critics that surrounded her. She gave everything. Some people thought it extravagant and costly but her focus was adoring Jesus.
In church today we sang a song with the line,
"My fear is silenced in your love."
I would love to not worry or fear about what others think of me but focus on Jesus and be more daring and extravagant in my worship.

Andy Bennett said...

Posted on Sunday, 8 March, 2015 @ 11:13 PM -
I love this story and it's a great model for how our worship should be. Two particular things I made note with the 'probe it' method were firstly, our attitude: that we must earnestly dismantle the intrusions to being extravagant with Jesus. This could be something physical, financial, spiritual or emotional that is getting in the way of lavishing ourselves on God. Secondly our prayer; for me it is 'Lord help me to forget myself and everyone around me, when I find myself at your feet'
The woman in the story had lost herself in the presence of Jesus - Elvis Presley or Justin Beiber could have showed up and well, nothing! She was ridiculed for what she did but it didn't matter, because she was there for the audience of one, prepared with her alabaster jar, and I love how Jesus was right on the money about her being remembered wherever the gospel is preached!
Whether it is financial extravagance, exuberant praise or precious time given, God knows all of our sacrifices and counts what is has cost us.

Isabel H said...

Posted on Sunday, 8 March, 2015 @ 6:49 PM -

I have been thinking about the woman in todays story. What an act of worship; she surrendered, at the feet of Jesus, all of her most precious possessions. What a challenge. We don't know who she was, and yet thousands of years later we are reading and talking about her, as Jesus said we would. I put myself in that situation-could I, can I break my flask at Jesus's feet? Would I be able to let go of my comfortable, earthly possessions for Jesus sake? This takes me back to the story of the rich man a few days back. What this woman did is what Jesus is talking about with the parable of the rich man - "sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me."
I have to be ready to follow Jesus unconditionally, even if that means letting go of my "precious perfume in my flask".

Martin said...

Posted on Sunday, 8 March, 2015 @ 8:49 AM -
Let's not worry about what other people think of us.....

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DAY 18

Posted by Geoff Lee on Saturday, 7 March, 2015 @ 6:21 AM

We must forgive to be forgiven (Mark 11:25)

This is definitely territory where application is hard and challenging, but ultimately healing and liberating.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him…”

There are no caveats, exemptions, small print, ifs, buts or maybes in this statement by Jesus. There is not a separate clause for those who have been especially sinned against, abused, misused or mistreated.

“If you hold anything against anyone…”

“Yes, but, you don’t know what they did to me”.

“Yes, but, they are not sorry for what they did.”

“Yes, but, I am not going to just let them off the hook like that.”

“Yes, but, they will never change….they have hurt me so often.”

“Yes, but, what they did was too evil to forgive.”

 

Forgiveness sets us free. It is what we are holding in our hand, in our heart, that is holding us back, that is poisoning us. Forgiveness is not letting someone off the hook, it is not a lack of judgment, it is not minimising guilt or wrong. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation, though it is wonderful if relationships can be restored. Forgiveness does not require the other person to admit their guilt, or to feel sorry for what they have done. Forgiveness frees you. Forgiveness heals you. Forgiveness allows you to open your hand and your heart and to receive fresh life and joy.

It doesn’t necessarily come easily. It often takes time and it shouldn’t be rushed. We need God’s help and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and often the support and counsel of others.

But we need to forgive, so that we may be healed, and so that the way is cleared for us to receive forgiveness from our heavenly Father. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” If God counted our sin against us, who could stand? Who could pay their debt?

We know this. We have heard it many times.

And yet how many times do we see people refusing to forgive others in church, or in their family, or circle of friends? How many times do we hold grudges, and keep records, and nurture our pain and our anger? 

Jesus challenges us head on.

“If you hold anything against anyone…. forgive.”

If you want to dig deeper into this subject, the best two books I have read by far are by the author Lewis Smedes: “Forgive and forget?” and “The art of forgiveness”.

Jen said...

Posted on Monday, 9 March, 2015 @ 1:47 PM -
I always remind myself that holding a grudge and unforgiveness is only doing US harm. More often than not, the person we are holding it against is oblivious to the way we feel, and that makes us feel harder towards them, because they are happy and living life while we fester in bitterness toward them. It is so damaging! Freedom from forgiving someone is wonderful, although I confess it is a hard thing to process!

Kate Wright x said...

Posted on Saturday, 7 March, 2015 @ 10:25 PM -
I had a really difficult relationship with somebody very close to me while growing up. For a long time I was really hurt and couldn't understand what it was all about.
If I'm being totally honest, all the counselling, prayer and talking didn't really seem to help but when I made the choice to truly forgive them and accept that it was ok not to have them in my life, everything changed!
Over the past few years God has restored the relationship to a place I never thought it could be and although I know it's still not perfect I know this act of forgiveness has truly helped me grow and I'm so thankful to God for that. x

Amy Crudgington red zone said...

Posted on Saturday, 7 March, 2015 @ 11:18 AM -
I have learnt this bible verse;

"Let the word of God dwell in you richly." Colossians 3:16!

Lydia said...

Posted on Saturday, 7 March, 2015 @ 8:57 AM -

I appreciate that we have moved on from the picture it method, but
“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of the person's throat."
I was always taught that the practical way to forgive is to show acts of kindness to the person that you feel has wronged you. Start to pray blessings on them out loud. Buying flowers for someone who has wronged you does soften your heart. Forgiveness releases blessing.
C.S. Lewis sums it up best of all.
"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Beth Lee (Red zone) said...

Posted on Saturday, 7 March, 2015 @ 8:53 AM -
This is in response to Liz's challenge.
James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!

Julie said...

Posted on Saturday, 7 March, 2015 @ 7:01 AM -
Is there a promise to claim?

The amazing truth that as we release others from our judgment into the hands of the 'one who judges justly' our own slate is wiped clean and we will know the cleansing power of being completely forgiven. And....our prayers will be heard by God Almighty!

My prayer: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!'

Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

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DAY 17

Posted by Geoff Lee on Friday, 6 March, 2015 @ 6:26 AM

Jesus meets the rich young man – Mark 10:17-31

Following on from Pastor Jimmie Davidson’s thoughts on Psalm 1 and meditation, and opening our mouth and having God fill it in today’s video devotional, here is a quote from Eugene Peterson’s book: “Eat this Book” on the subject of meditation, which is what we are learning to do in these 40 days:

“Years ago I owned a dog who had a fondness for large bones. Fortunately for him we lived in the forested foothills of Montana. In his forest rambles he often came across a carcass of a white-tailed deer that had been brought down by the coyotes. Later he would show up on our stone, lakeside patio carrying or dragging his trophy, usually a shank or a rib; he was a small dog and the bone was often nearly as large as he was.

Anyone who has owned a dog knows the routine: he would prance and gambol playfully before us with his prize, wagging his tail, proud of his find, courting our approval. And of course, we approved: we lavished praise, telling him what a good dog he was. But after a while, sated with our applause, he would drag the bone off twenty yards or so to a more private place, usually the shade of a large moss-covered boulder, and go to work on the bone. The social aspects of the bone were behind him; now the pleasure became solitary. He gnawed the bone, turned it over and around, licked it, worried it. Sometimes we could hear a low rumble or growl, what in a cat would be a purr. He was obviously enjoying himself and in no hurry. After a leisurely couple of hours he would bury it and return the next day to take it up again. An average bone lasted about a week.

I always took delight in my dog's delight, his playful seriousness, his childlike spontaneities now totally absorbed in "the one thing needful." But imagine my further delight in coming upon a phrase one day while reading Isaiah in which I found the poet-prophet observing something similar to what I enjoyed so much in my dog, except that his animal was a lion instead of a dog: "As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey … " (Isa. 31:4). "Growls" is the word that caught my attention and brought me that little "pop" of delight. What my dog did over his precious bone, making those low throaty rumbles of pleasure as he gnawed, enjoyed, and savored his prize, Isaiah's lion did to his prey. The nugget of my delight was noticing the Hebrew word here translated as "growl" (hagah) but usually translated as "meditate," as in the Psalm 1 phrase describing the blessed man or woman whose "delight is in the law of the LORD," on which "he meditates day and night" (v. 2).”

Eden Bennett from Redzone said...

Posted on Sunday, 8 March, 2015 @ 8:20 AM -
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly colossians 3 verse 16.

Open my eyes that i may see wonderful things in your law psalms 119 verse 18.

Do not merley listen to the word and so deceive your self do what it says james 1 verses 22.

Lydia said...

Posted on Friday, 6 March, 2015 @ 11:28 PM -
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.
We can't get to heaven by being kinder, richer or more successful. God's grace is all we need. Ephesians 2v8 in the message says,
"Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!"
God's grace is sufficient. How refreshing!!

Liz Crudgington said...

Posted on Friday, 6 March, 2015 @ 7:27 PM -
That's great William. In Kidzone we've chosen to focus on some well known bible stories. And we're just looking for two things in the text rather than doing SPACEPETS. We're looking to see if there is a Promise and a Prayer. And William, you are absolutely right. Through this story we find the PROMISE that God never gives up on us and is always ready to welcome us back. So the PRAYER that we can pray from the text is either for ourselves, if we have turned away from God, or for someone else, as William has chosen to do.

How about any other Kidzoners? How have you got on this week? Can anyone remember any of the three bible verses we've learnt so far? Does anyone want to have a go at writing them in this blog? Without copying of course! We will give out bonus points on Sunday for anyone who attempts a bible verse on the blog!

Just write your name and zone in the little box and pick one verse to type out in the big box. Go for it!

Confidence said...

Posted on Friday, 6 March, 2015 @ 6:05 PM -
Following Jesus demands everything we have. It is either 100% or nothing. Thinking really deeply about this...

William Hargrave said...

Posted on Friday, 6 March, 2015 @ 5:18 PM -
This weeks story that I have been given to talk about is the parable of the prodigal son (the two sons) Luke 15: 11-32. I've read the parable and I have been thinking about what Jesus wanted to say with the story. I think the story has a promise to it. I think the promise in there is that even if you turn away from God, he is always ready to welcome us back, because he knows and loves us. I have been thinking about the son who left his father and how heartbroken he was away from his loving father. I feel sad because I can imagine the feeling if I turned away from my dad. However Jesus tells us that God is waiting for us. God never gives up on us, this comforts me. My prayer to God is that the ones who left him come back like my brother John for instance.

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DAY 16

Posted by Geoff Lee on Thursday, 5 March, 2015 @ 6:56 AM

Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of God? (Mark 9:33-35)

 

Long before Muhammad Ali made it his catchphrase, “I am the greatest” was on the lips of Jesus’ disciples as they argued about who was preeminent among them. Jesus asks them, Columbo-like, as they enter the house in Capernaum…. “What were you talking about on the road?” The next sentence is so pregnant with embarrassment, it’s almost comical. “But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” Jesus looks quizzically around the room. All eyes are on the floor. A few people shift uneasily. Jesus has nailed them and they know it. He calls the twelve together and he says: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. “And then, to reinforce what he is saying, Jesus takes a little child and he tells the disciples that the way they treat this child, the least among them, is ultimately the way that they treat God.

More tea anyone?

How’s that going for you? Being the very last, and the servant of all.  It’s easy to serve some people. They are so grateful and gracious and appreciative. Others less so. I remember hearing someone say, “it’s easy to be a servant until someone actually treats you like one.” Some people are so unappreciative. Some people actually treat you like their servant. Like it’s their right to be served! Some people are hard to love and serve. Some people are takers and not givers. It doesn’t take very long for the “Martha syndrome” to kick in as we work and serve and see that there are others who are doing “jack all”!

But Jesus challenges us to be “the very last” and to be the “servant of all.” And he reminds us all that ministering to children, to the least, to the seemingly insignificant,  is like ministering to God! (Kidzone, Kidz Klub, Source workers, parents, foster parents – be encouraged!)

The concept, the idea, the general theme of being a servant to others, has a warm glow about it. “I just want to be a servant leader”. The reality is much more gritty and a tad bit more challenging.

Is there somewhere that you are straining for position, for recognition, for appreciation? We are definitely less brazen and obvious about it than Muhammad Ali, and even the early disciples. But we are still prone to the same disease of pride!

Where can you put this into practice today or this week?

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Confidence said...

Posted on Thursday, 5 March, 2015 @ 2:24 PM -
It is something completely alien to humans to choose to be the servant when there is every opportunity to fight for the limelight. Nothing but the grace of Jesus Christ liberates one to make that choice. I most certainly do need that grace...and in manifold proportions!

Kathy Jarrett said...

Posted on Thursday, 5 March, 2015 @ 1:01 PM -
Today's video was very thought provoking. I particularly liked the phrase talking about people we find difficult in life
"They aren't our enemies but merely victims of the enemy"
By our transformation through the word we are set apart and become more like Jesus and see people differently and then act differently.

Lydia said...

Posted on Thursday, 5 March, 2015 @ 7:53 AM -
When I am at school and the children line up there are always children who push to the front of the queue. The front of the line is a place of pride and putting yourself first. A place where everyone can see you and follows as you lead them. Jesus teaches us to put others first, to follow him and let him lead. Being last allows us to put other's ahead of our own agenda. Being last requires us to have a humble attitude and be generous to those around us.

This is so encouraging. In a foster family it is the birth children who make the most sacrifices. They often have to allow other children to have the attention, allow for someone elses agenda and be generous with all they have.


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