Are You Accepting These Gifts from Christ?

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Have you ever given someone a gift they truly appreciated? You see their eyes light up with excitement, they wonder if it is truly theirs, and their heart is full of gratitude.

Or maybe, you’ve seen the opposite to be true. You find the “perfect” gift for your loved one, but then realize you were far more excited about the gift than the person to whom you gave the present.

We would all rather the person receiving the gift genuinely appreciate and love it. I imagine this was how Jesus felt when He met Zaccheus and offered Him multiple gifts. We must be like Zaccheus and accept the gifts Jesus generously gives.

The Gift of Acknowledgment In Luke 19, we see that Zaccheus climbed the tree to get a better view of Jesus. As Jesus came to the tree, He greeted him by name, acknowledging him despite his reputation. On his own, Zaccheus would have just been another member of the crowd, but with Jesus’ gift of acknowledgment, everything began to change for him. Being recognized by the Great Teacher by name would have truly been a gift! Dale Carnegie is credited saying, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Most likely today, Jesus won’t walk by your workplace calling out your name, but remember what Jesus said in Luke 12:7, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Accept the gift that Jesus is giving you of knowing you personally.

The Gift of Presence In Luke 19:5, Zaccheus comes down the tree and stands face to face with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t treat Zaccheus like a sinner but rather invites Himself over for a meal. When Jesus gives Zaccheus the gift of presence, Zaccheus graciously accepts with excitement and joy. This companionship causes the people to grumble, but Jesus still gives the gift of presence to the outcast.

Today we can be a friend of Jesus and accept His gift of presence by simply keeping spending time with Him a priority. Add appointments to your calendar to spend time with God just like you would with a friend. Set reminders to refocus throughout the day and attend a church where you can really be ushered into the presence of God.

The Gift of Grace Right after Zaccheus repents from cheating people on their taxes, Jesus gives him the gift of grace. Grace is an unearned gift that costs the giver and shows God’s love. There is nothing that Zaccheus could have done on his own to earn this gift. Even if he would have given back 10 times or 100 times the amount he had stolen, he would have still been found guilty of being a thief. Jesus forgave Zaccheus and gave him the same gift of grace that He offers to us today.

Isaiah 64:6 describes us saying, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.” On our own, we can never pay back the debt that we owe, but when we accept the gift of grace that Jesus offers us, everything changes.

All of Zaccheus efforts weren’t able to accomplish his own salvation, it was only through the gifts that Jesus freely offered him. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Ultimately, Jesus had to come to Zaccheus’ house for his life to change. Today we must come before the Savior and through His gifts, our life will never be the same.

The Myth of Balance Workshop Series

The Myth of Balance Workshop Series begins July 10th and I would love for you to join me as we learn how to thrive in the tension of ministry, work, and life. We are called to be good stewards of our time, and I believe this workshop will keep us going the right direction. Sign up here: The Myth of Balance

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Does this sound familiar?

“This is just my busy season.”
“Next week will be better.”
“My family will understand.”

Ministry is messy, and it’s full of “exceptions” like these. Sure, you may have set office hours, but we all know those could change with the next email or phone call.

Sometimes we treat ministry like it’s an assembly line job with the same tasks day in and out, yet we’re always caught off guard when …

you get a phone call that means you are visiting a family in the hospital,
the lead pastor calls an impromptu meeting in the middle of the day,
last month passed without a day off,
volunteers call in sick,
Sunday’s coming.

Every week presents its own set of challenges. The question isn’t what to do IF they happen, but what to do WHEN they happen.

God never intended for us to sacrifice the family He blessed us with on the altar of the ministry He called us to.

In his new book, The Myth of Balance, Frank Bealer teaches you his proven formula for thriving in the tension of ministry, work, and life. He provides a tool for HOW you can reduce the stress and guilt from these untimely, but inevitable, exceptions.

But now he’s taking it one step further:
What if you could have direct access to Frank?
What if he personally guided you through every chapter of the book?
What if you could ask your specific questions—and get answers?
What if there was a supportive community of other ministry leaders who are also trying to shift their mindset from IF to WHEN, and ultimately to HOW?

Beginning July 10, you could be part of an eight-week challenge to reclaim your time and your response to the exceptions that come with ministry. Through live video, Q&A’s, group conversation, and practical resources, you will develop a customized plan to better manage these situations, allowing you to focus on the people in your care.

Dedicate your life to your calling, not your calendar.

LEARN MORE: MythofBalance.com

Share this post on facebook or twitter and I’ll give a FREE copy of the book away to one lucky winner! 🎉

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How to On-board New Volunteers

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The D6 Podcast helps you build an excellent family ministry in your church. On episode 63, we sat down and walked through all of the steps to process onboard new volunteers.

Recruiting volunteers is hard but you can make this process easier by breaking it down into manageable steps. Listen to this podcast for a tutorial step by step guide and check out the attachments for additional resources.

How to On-board New Volunteers with Corey Jones – https://itun.es/i6dj5Jk

Corey Jones provides us with a step by step tutorial on how to on-board a new volunteer. He begins with recruiting. Corey believes he needs to always be in a state of recruiting volunteers, so he must free himself to have the time on Sunday mornings to interact with people and recognize their gifts. Corey talks in great detail about his application process and even gives key components to his application. He shares how to handle that awkward conversation when someone fails a background check and how to recapture an applicant that may have gotten lost in the process. Corey discusses how to identify volunteers that may be ready for more responsibility, and he talks about how his own senior pastor has encouraged volunteering in their church.

There is valuable, practical, and ready-to-use information in this episode. Make sure to tune in!

Here are links to additional resources:

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3 Free Ways To Better Screen Your Volunteers

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There’s no question that we need to screen our volunteers, especially those who work with kids. But how do you properly screen workers on a limited budget with limited time? How can you ensure the safety of those who have been placed in your care when you are also trying to prepare for next Sunday? Here are 3 free ways to better screen your volunteers.

1. Know Your Process.

Can you list every step a volunteer must take in order to go from a pew sitter to a member of your team? Write down your full process and ask a lawyer, officer, and/or school counselor for feedback. Read over your application to make sure you are collecting the proper information and compare your application to that of other churches. Know your background check process and know exactly what the background check is screening. Know what questions you will ask a reference and what you will do when a red flag is raised. Know what standard questions you are going to ask in the interview and know how to ask these questions to get accurate information.

2. Follow Your Process.

While knowing your process is important, if you don’t follow it you will find yourself in trouble. Don’t cut corners or make exceptions, even if you know the person or they’ve been serving in another ministry. If your policy says that a person must be a member in order to serve then hit pause and wait for that step to be complete. Even if you desperately need someone to fill the position, or if your gut is telling you to let them through, still follow your process. When you always follow your process you can confidently tell parents that every member of your team has been properly screened.

3. Document Your Process.

Along the way, write down dates and keep a written record so that you know each step has been completed. Document the date your background check was sent out and write down when you have received a clear report. If any red flags are raised in the reference check or interview, write down both what was said and how you resolved the situation. If there is anything questionable or out of the ordinary also consider running the information by your supervisor and have them sign off on the document as well.

When you know, follow, and document your screening process for new volunteers you are on your way to building a healthy team. The time you invest in these three steps will help you protect the kids and can save your ministry from a sticky situation. What is one step that you need to take today to better screen your volunteers?

Are You Satisfied With Your Prayer Life?

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. – Jesus, Luke 11:9-10

Are you satisfied with your prayer life?

Or to put it another way, do you rely more on your cell phone or your Heavenly Father for answers, security, and direction? When Jesus taught on prayer in Luke 11, He gave three visuals to clarify what it means to bring a request to God. As you go into your next time of prayer think about these three aspects that Jesus taught: ask, seek, knock.

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ASK: When you ask, make sure your motives are pure. James 4:2c-3 says, “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” When you bring your requests to God, have the same attitude as Jesus when He prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.” As you begin your next prayer, ask, but ask with a pure heart. 

SEEK: Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Prayer is not just about asking, but doing the work and looking for the answers. James 2:17 says, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” We need to be people who ask God and then put our faith in action by seeking His answers. Think back to your past prayer requests. Did you simply ask God for His favor or did you take it a step further to put your faith in action?

KNOCK: As you ask God and seek His answers, a few doors may present themselves. Your job is to step out in faith and pursue opportunities that glorify God. Knock on doors with consistency and persistence. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Don’t give up when the first door you knock on doesn’t open. Stay persistent in your prayers and continue seeking Him.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to ask, seek, knock, and then He says, “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:9-11). Take time today to ask, seek, and knock for we have a personal God who cares about you and your story.

How to Create a Better Foundation for Lifetime Change

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You have set goals, made promises, and worked to change but unfortunately, you find yourself in the same place day after day. Why do we get stuck in a rut, repeating the same mistakes despite a true desire to be different? What if our thoughts hold the key to create a better foundation for lifetime change? Here are four challenges to your thinking to make the changes you desire in your life.

Meditate on what is true. Your thinking guides your response. If you go through the day thinking about grilling on the back deck and when you get home it’s raining, your response might be to complain and have a bad attitude. Whereas if you go through the day thinking about how you want to serve your family, the rain will have a far less impact and you will find another way to serve them. To lay a solid foundation for change, find times throughout your day for focused thinking on Biblical truth. Meditating on God’s truth will create a heart that is pleasing to God and lay a foundation for the right changes in your life.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Ask the right questions. If you want a better foundation for a lifetime of change than you need to take every thought captive to obey Christ. Do not allow questions to stumble around in your head or heart that are destructive or disobedient.

Also, consider if you are asking the right questions to the right person. If you are seeking your approval or love in another person you will always be disappointed. When you ask questions to find your approval in God’s eyes you will find true satisfaction in Him. Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Only God can fully satisfy your heart, so look to Him when you are asking these types of question.

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

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Refocus wrong thinking. Take a look back on your past mistake. How would it have been different had you refocused your thinking on what is true and honorable? When you were feeling insignificant and were looking for acceptance in another person, what would have happened if you refocused your thinking and realized God loves you despite your shortcomings? Instead of thinking that you are loved only when you perform a certain way, remember that Romans 5:8says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” To lay a better foundation for change refocus you thinking any time it doesn’t line up with God’s word.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8

Hold onto the right things. You can’t say that you are alone while believing the truth found in James 2:23 that you are a friend of God. You can not believe you are unlovable when you know in your heart John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son.” When you begin believing something that pulls you down into a rut, find God’s truth and begin laying the foundation in your heart that leads to change.

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. – Matthew 6:24

Lasting change begins with your thinking. You really can change and become the person that God designed you to be. And when you stumble, catch it, repent, ask for forgiveness, and take your next step in growth!

Notes from #OC17 Main Stage 6 and 7: Dr. Bernice King, Jud Wilhite, Lecrea, Doug Fields

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Build a Bridge

Tasha Morrison

This journey has taken me to places that are meeting in places constantly different than ourselves.

12k people community on social media engaging in conversation daily.

God is doing work in our churches but this work first begins in our hearts.

Dr, Bernice King

This issue of racial reconciliation is something the church holds the keys to.

We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. If we are going to overcome this dark time, we have to be out front in showing the way in the right spirit. God gave us a command to love our enemies. We have to raise the standard and show people how to be like Christ. We are called to be christ in the culture. We must first get our heart in order.

Get out of your churches and get out of your communities. Take the courageous steps that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ took when He met with the woman at the well.

The white community does not know us. Only through the eyes of tv and media and that is not us. Get to know us. Leave the community and connect with someone that does not look like you. Hang out in their world. Men hate each other because they fear each other

“I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Your goal is to win over people not win people over. Listen to understand. Refuse to have to be right. Start from maybe I’m wrong or maybe I’m ignorant. Or maybe I just need a little more information. Part of healing is allowing people to get stuff out.

We will never all agree. At the end of the day, we can find win/win solutions. Is there some place where we can find something to agree and forge a common path together?

If reconciliation is the goal then our tactics have to be consistent with that goal.

White people don’t feel like they are invited to the part and black people don’t feel like white people want to come. TD Jakes

We forget that this country lost a leader, but you lost your dad as a 5-year-old.

What killed my father was not hate, it was indifference and apathy and absence of the people of God and the Spirit of God.

@BerniceKing

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Keep Forgiving – Jud Wilhite

Forgiveness: It’s easier to talk about than to actually practice.

Punching the wall. This became a defining moment. Embarrassed that he lost control. Is this the person I’m becoming. Is this who I”m going to be. I need to do some soul work. In a lot of years of ministry, he began to carry wounds. Harbor bitterness is people leaving the church, staff quitting, friends going to another church who say not to take it personally. How else should I take it, because I”m putting all I’ve got in this.

If you start holding onto a grudge long enough, it begins to take a hold of you. A seed of bitterness that get’s planted and begins to grow.

You don’t have to be in ministry long to have an opportunity to hold onto bitterness.

How you deal with your ministry pass actually determines how successful you will be in your ministry future.

Eph 4:26-27 Anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Bitterness, hurt, and anger. Starts with a foothold and becomes a stronghold.

The devil wants to get a foothold in your church. Let God transform the pain and the hurt of you begin to transfer that pain and hurt. Your heart beings to shut down towards others. You start to secretly enjoy it when other churches go through drama or difficulty. You engage in gossip and enjoy it because your heart is getting hard. It’s not that you are running hard in ministry, it’s that you are caring a weight that you don’t need to carry.

You’ve got to stand in your second chance.

Mix Tapes – Get a jam-box with two cassettes. Master side and record side. We all have our mixtapes. We have the majority of the thoughts we had today are the same as the day before. What kind of mixtape are you playing? The old you is gone the new you has come in Christ. New creation in Him. In Christ you are free.

You are somebody because Jesus died for you. You do not need more followers, more accomplishments, your life all together, all you have to do is claim the fact that you have a second chance in Jesus Christ. Some of you have been followers of Jesus for a while but you are still living in condemnation. How do you know? Your thoughts. You are still praying for forgiveness about the same thing you’ve been praying for 1000 times. Reach down and undo the chains. Jud carries a 28-year sobriety coin because it reminds me of not who I was but about who I am today. Forgiven. Renewed. Reminds me that no matter how much someone has hurt me in my life, I have infinitely offended God more yet He forgives me. It doesn’t matter what happens today because I’m still doing better than I deserve.

Instead of being about the mission, we get distracted on our own hurt and pain and become selfish about it.

You’ve got to give a second chance.

Players gonna play, hatters gonna hate. What’s my response? I’ve got to shake that off.

When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11

Write down all the names of those who have hurt you over the years. Not offend but hurt. Just under 10 names. Realized it was not that many. We often get hurt by a few people and project it onto everyone else. Most people have been pretty good to us and have shown kindness to us. Few have damaged our hearts. Projecting onto everyone what a few have done. More forward towards healing. Not the pace that you are running at but the weight you are carrying. What are you carrying? What do you need to forgive? Because the work you do is too important.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

You don’t give up when things get hard or you don’t go your way.

I lead a church and don’t agree with everything we do. Get over it and get on mission.

Don’t get discouraged because it’s hard or you don’t feel talented enough. Don’t give up when you can’t see the dream any more. Don’t give up when you see that your friends are happier than you, especially on social media, because they are not. Christ has redeemed you. You have a calling and it matters. In Christ you are not a victim, you are a victor. More than a conquerer, not what happened to you but what Christ is doing through you in faith. Not just your familiars you are forgiven and free. Step into it, walk in. Be free and be empowered to make an eternal difference. Don’t let bitterness way you down and cause you to give up, what you are doing is too important.

@JudWilhite

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Redefine our audience – Lecrea

We want to get to know your perspective. Sam Colier

Voice in the community, advocate for change. Through music and writings.

More than anything I’m trying to be the best Lecrae that I can be.

If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.

You are created by the creator of all humanity and His acceptance is all you need. You need to be comfortable in your own skin. This is me, and that’s who I need to consistently be.

Rejection from Christians has lead Lecrae down this path

No one deserves the amount of praise celebrities gets.

As somebody who grew up the way I grew up…I longed for acceptance. I longed for a sense I was on the right trajectory.

Jesus wasn’t a conservative or a liberal, they both hated and killed him. Success is not what I do in comparison to you, success is what I do in comparison to what I was created to do. I had to come to grips with the fact that running my race was going to be painful.

The gates of Hell will not prevail. Gates were made to keep people out. We are supposed to be out there loving people and being gracious to other people. Jesus got in trouble with the crowd He hung out with. We need to make people who are not in the church a priority.

A man telling the story about how he killed a bear. It became about him telling the story and not about him actually killing bears.

What ends up happening is that people realize that you’re a real person, when you spend time with them. When we are salt in our neighborhoods, people can taste it. Our identity is wrapped up in being right instead of thinking about Who’s righteous for us.

@lecrae #OC17

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Do more than just talk about it – Doug Fields

Does what I’m doing matter? Have you put your heart into what you are doing and then wonder, did it make any difference?

When we are “for the neighbors”…we do more than just talk about it.

“Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:31

Jesus was super clear, He said love your neighbors. Message and method. Do as I have done.

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If Jesus did it, then we should do it. If we don’t do it, the ones who follow Jesus won’t do it. What gives you credibility as a leader isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. If you love teaching, fabulous but no one remembers what you are teaching anyway. What you want them to remember is the way you communicated to them but they never do. What they say is, “I remember that time, we were at Denny’s and I spilt ice tea on you.” Or I remember that time my aunt was dying and you came to the hospital.

Jesus was not in a hurry.  

Jesus actually seemed to frustrate others at the pace he lived his other.

Jesus in the synagog with the official.  Mark 5

Jesus will you heal my child and Jesus says yes. Jesus stops them on the way to the house and says, “Who touched me?”  That’s a weird question to ask in a crowd. If I were the the dad, I’d be like why did we stop?  Come on we got to go, you got to heal my child.”  Peter was like “I would never touch you.”

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His sense of purpose and timing frustrated otter people because he wasn’t in hurry.

Lazarus. Jesus wouldn’t have done a good job on your church’s pastoral staff.

Jesus also called other people to slow down. Martha.

Ministry is a race and speed is our drug of choice. We want to grow the biggest yet this was not Jesus’ style. Less run and more walk. Less race and more face to face. Jesus modeled unhurried ways for us. He had a lot to do.

Being neighborly takes time.

Slow Yourself Down. Not a lazy life. Not that you don’t work hard. Just less speed and more Jesus. Less activity and more love.

The greatest command is not to get more things done. It’s to love Him and to love others.

We need to stop honoring business. It is a badge of brokenness. Busy people are broken somewhere. There is a symptom not being dealt with. Business moves into our character. We don’t listen well. We don’t relax. Even at the grocery store we are running Grocery store algorithms and competing in our minds because hurry is a part of our life.

Busy is the enemy of neighborly.

Jesus spent time with messy people.

People in the church are weird.

Jesus spent time with the immoral woman. Luke 7:39
Jesus spent time with people of questionable character. Matthew 9:10

Jesus spent time with notorious sinners. Luke 19:6-7

Chubby bunny became choking your buddy.

Jesus was neighborly with messy people. Get some messy friends. Are you doing life with anyone that has church people questioning you because church people are scared of messy people. Messy people are not the enemies. When you hang out with them you begin to understand grace a little deeper. Do for one what you wish you can do for everyone. You might not be able to have 12 messy friends but you can have one, without motive.

Jesus expected God’s power to show up.

We have become so robotic and skilled in what we do that we don’t depend on God’s power. We just get so used to doing ministry, so busy and overwhelmed, that we stop expecting God’s power to show up. So we are limited to our own power. Guilty of shallow and small pre-service prayers. Don’t you want some things in your ministry that you just can’t explain outside of God’s power. That’s what Jesus did, He expected God to show up. Jesus turning water into wine.

John 9 when Jesus heals the blind guy. He spits. To make a mud pie, you need a lot of spit. He puts it on the guys’ eyes and says, go and wash…which is a nice thing to say after you spit on someone. He said go and wash and the guy came back seeing. Somewhere after the “Go” God’s power showed up. What’s this mean for you? GO with confidence and expectations that God’s power is going to show up! This free’s you up. You don’t have to quantify the results. Do in faith and God is pleased. The challenge is to lead like Jesus led. There’s just too much at stake to go back the same you were when you came. As for me, I’ll go back and be neighborly.

@DougFields #OC17

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