Posts Tagged ‘#GrowDeeperGoHigher; #FullLife2017’

The Best Use of Our Freedom

July 4, 2017

Freedom. Liberty. Independence.

These are some of the values that this country was founded on. They were some of the dreams that our Founders had back in 1776 when they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Yet, it wasn’t simply ‘freedom to do whatever I want’.

That kind of freedom, if followed to it’s end, would lead to mob rule, and eventually, anarchy.

No, this ‘freedom’ that they were investing “our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor” for was a freedom with a purpose. These freedoms were founded on a core belief in a Creator–as THE Source of Freedom.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are live, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

Our rights…our freedom…our liberty comes, ultimately, from God.

…and the difference that point makes becomes clear when we ‘throw off’ God’s influence and try to use our freedoms as we see fit.

John Adams wrote that “Our Constitution (and the rights detailed in it) is sufficient only for a moral or religious people; it is wholly inadequate for the government of any other“.

The Scriptures say “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD”. (Psalm 33:12)

True, that Scripture was addressed to Israel, however our Founders wanted it to be true of the United States of America also…they sought to welcome God’s presence and influence.

Now, we have become a people who have rejected God, for the most part…and our government shows the effects!

Political parties have now become about ‘getting our way’, and about ‘defeating the other side’ more than about the good of the country. We have now become a mud-slinging people, and our goal seems to be to have the best ‘tweet’ or the best ‘comeback’ to any of our opponents’ points…rather than government for the good of the people.

This did NOT start with our current President! Granted, it may be more extreme now, but this has been getting worse for some time…because (in my opinion) we have rejected the Lord for some time!

“When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.
    But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” (Proverbs 29:18)

Where will this journey end, if continued on like this?

Increasing hostility. Decreasing civility. Disaster.

What is the solution?

To humble ourselves again before the Lord, to seek His will, and to submit to His leadership.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:10)

Will everyone follow suit? Of course not!

Will those who worship Jesus? I hope so! They should!

Really, that is our only hope for our nation–if the Church actually focuses again on ‘being’ The Church. Then, as God multiplies our influence, it may be that our nation can be saved from our headlong pursuit of self-destruction.

It is not about political party. It is certainly not about any specific politician!

It is about you, and I–individual Americans–following God.

That is the best use of our freedom!


Where Does This Road Lead?

June 14, 2017

As I sit here in Bigby Coffee on Wednesday, June 14 in the morning, the news is pretty dark…

A High rise in London burns, with scores of potential victims…

World markets teeter ever closer to a ‘bubble’ that may be economically devastating…

The threat of terrorism, mostly from radical Islamic believers seems ever more present…

The US and Russia, along with their surrogates, escalate their conflicts (and potential for disaster) in the Middle East, and now…

Several Republican lawmakers and their security detail are shot at a baseball practice in Alexandria, VA near Washington.

Lots of thoughts in my mind and emotions in my heart right now…


Two main points I think need to be made:

  1. We MUST think about where ‘the road we’re on’ leads.                                                                                       If we don’t learn again to ‘talk’ to each other. To ‘discuss’ things with some degree of respect for people who differ from us, this violence will continue to escalate, and come closer and closer to our own homes and lives.

The vitriol–mostly over political things–in our culture over the past year has reached the point where it is     destroying friendships, workplaces, and families. To be sure, there are significant issues to be discussed…and they will make a significant difference in life in the here and now…but one thing that has been a hallmark of the United States over the years is that we’ve been able to maintain some degree of peace and respect, even while strongly disagreeing…because we’ve maintained that we are the ‘UNITED States of America’ and need to think ‘big picture’, so that we keep moving forward together. Recently, that is not the case. Political party seems to be elevated in importance, to the point that we feel justified in disrespecting…attacking and today, apparently, shooting those who disagree! If this does not change, we will self-destruct!

This is irrational and short-sighted.

Think of it: even if you got Everyone to agree with you Completely in the political realm, it would still only have an ‘earthly’ impact…even assuming that all of your ideas were ‘right’ (not very likely, by the way)…it could not change anything other than the here-and-now political climate.

That brings me to point 2:

2) We need to re-learn to think from an ‘eternal’ perspective.

For Christians, that means that we can’t get ‘sucked in’ to the political ‘us vs. them’ discussion. We have to push back from that discussion and keep our minds on the fact that the Lord calls us to be ‘salt and light’ in this world.

Matthew 5:13-16:  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

He also calls us to ‘Love God, and Love others’ . Matthew 22:37-40: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The number one thing we should be about is the Kingdom of God, and spreading the good news about Jesus–inviting others to receive His gracious gift of eternal life, and adoption into the family of God.

THAT is ‘the thing‘ that will matter for ETERNITY.

Therefore, to get sucked into the downward spiral of political warfare–which seems to be what we have now–is, at best, unwise.

So, if you’re a Christ-follower, remember: More than anything else, you live for Him. You represent Him, and you need to reflect His heart to this world, that is increasingly being deceived into rejecting Him. They think they’re enlightened. They think they’re free and independent. They’re not–they’re deceived.

If you’re a Christian, make sure that YOU are not!

Titus 3: 1-9:

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”

The REAL impact you and I can have on people is not Political…it’s Spiritual.

Keep that in mind as you respond to the news of the day!

The Storms are Raging!

May 19, 2017




As I sit here on a Friday afternoon I take a quick look at the news headlines:

Politically, there are Special Prosecutors, accusations of double standards against President Trump, accusations of Double standards in favor of the President, Democrats against Republicans…Immigration…Economy…Taxes…you get the idea.

In other news, there’s graphic video of the violence in New York City which has hit very close to home, in Portage. There are assaults on Police, there are trials in which is seems as if Police who went way over the line have only received a slap on the wrist…there’s division within families and turmoil, protests, and so on.

Internationally, there are countries like Venezuela, Brazil and Greece which are descending into chaos. President Trump is about to make a trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, while tensions in that part of the world are extremely high, with militaries from many nations are very close together. It seems as though one ‘spark’ could ignite an explosive situation there.

As I look through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I see that there is conflict, stress, and controversy everywhere. Some people I love and value deeply are taking sides on these issues that others I love and value are strongly against, and arguments ensue, fomenting more division and discord.

So, what am I to do?

What are we all to do?

Sure, I could say that we should all just ‘get along’ and ‘be nice and civil’ to each other…and it’d be legit.

It’s true–the tenor of ‘discussion’ in our culture right now has taken a decidedly negative turn, and we’ve forgotten how to ‘discuss’ things respectfully, and how to ‘agree to disagree’. So yes, we should all ‘chill’ a bit and stop attacking those who disagree with us as though they were a special class of moron who does not deserve the respect that we, on ‘our side’ do. I could encourage love and respect–for the good of our families, our nation, and our world…and I’d be right.

However, I’m going to be honest with you: This is one blog in which I am specifically talking to those who claim to be Christ followers. If you’re reading this right now and you do not view yourself that way, you are certainly welcome to keep reading, but you need to know that I’m not talking primarily to you.

See, we who call ourselves Christians are supposed to think and act differently.

I’m not simply saying that we should be ‘the nicest’ and ‘get along’ the best.

I’m talking about living with eternity in mind, focusing on the things that will last…forever!

Let’s be honest: Most of the things that I listed at the beginning of this blog–the things that we’re getting all worked up about and have driven wedges into families, marriages, workplaces, etc.–those things–they don’t measure up.

They will not last.

Let me simply remind my fellow believers in Jesus of a few things:

Matthew 22:37-40:

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

So, fellow Christian: Is the stuff that you’re arguing about…and the way you’re arguing about it…measuring up to that?

How about this?

1st Peter 2:11-12:

“Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”

Don’t get me wrong: I know that the issues going on in our world are important. I know that God has, in His sovereign wisdom, placed you and I into a country in which we have a right, and a responsibility, to influence our political leaders, policies, etc.

I’m simply saying that we–as a general rule–have ‘bought in’ way too much to our here-and-now controversies, rather than to living with the eternal kingdom of God in mind.

And that’s a mistake…of Biblical proportions.

Instead, I believe that now–here in the midst of our drama–is the time for the Church to rise above the noise and to SHINE like never before! In fact, I believe that is precisely God’s charge to us in this time of global turmoil and individual drama.

As the world gets darker and more tumultuous, the ‘bride of Christ’ must shine more radiantly.

If that is going to happen, we must ‘push back from the drama’ and get our minds and hearts right. This means that prayer, worship and the word of God must become our focus again. We must be ready for things to get worse…and to take that opportunity, in the power of the Spirit, to point people to Jesus in how we live.

Here’s the thing: That will never happen as long as we get mired in the chaos of the here and now!

God is working out His plan…and a big part of that plan is for His people, the Church, to shine!

In the Eye of the Storm, remember: HE is in control!

Live like you believe it!

Passionate…for What?

May 17, 2017

Passion…the ‘zest’ in life, the energy behind what we do, the ‘umph’ to get us up and pursuing something when it’s not convenient.

If you have Passion for something, you will ‘go after it‘. You will dedicate yourself to pursuing it.

Oftentimes, our ‘passions’ are for things like goals–a degree, a level of income, an athletic accomplishment, a diet, etc.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Passion” this way: “Any kind of feeling by which the mind is powerfully effected or moved; a vehement, commanding, or overpowering emotion”. 

So, let me ask you: What are you ‘passionate’ for?


I, for one, want to be most “Passionate” for Jesus.

Around KCC, I have talked for a few years about developing a mindset in which we “Passionately, Relentlessly pursue and ever-deepening relationship with God”.

Sounds good! Many churchgoers would sign on to that…no matter what church they go to.

So...why do so few of us ever get anywhere near this goal? Why do we find our ‘success’ so sporadic and hard to maintain?

I think there are several reasons: Distractions from the ‘stuff’ of this world; a ‘Religious’ mindset which attempts to convince us that ‘passion for God’ is too emotional and therefore, overrated; and, of course, our spiritual enemy, the devil who is the thief, who comes to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ everything that God wants to do within His children.

Fortunately, we are not powerless in this. Passion for God can be developed, and in fact, it is something God wants to stir within His children–without doubt!

So, how about it: Do you have ‘Passion’ for God? Is your faith in Jesus driving you to ‘hunger and thirst’ for Him more?

As the Psalmist wrote,

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)

Do you have ‘thirst’ for God–do you ever feel ‘parched’ for a fresh connection with Him?

There are few things better than a cool drink of water (with a squeeze of lemon, perhaps) after a long run, or working hard in the yard, or a game of basketball in the driveway. But think about it: Part of the reason that drink satisfies is because we know we’re thirsty!

Our bodies, our brains…everything…is telling us that we need refreshment!

I believe that, for many of us, the Holy Spirit is telling us the same thing: We NEED refreshment in our faith!

We need a fresh ‘filling’ of the Holy Spirit, and we need to ‘drink in’ our faith in the Lord again.

Are you thirsty for Him?

I am!

The Apostle Paul prayed this for the Ephesians:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3: 16-19)

This desire to “know this love that surpasses knowledge” and being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”, is still my prayer…for myself, for my family, for our church, and for all believers.

I absolutely believe that the Lord still wants that as part of the “Full Life” that Jesus came to give His followers (John 10:10).

So, don’t move too quickly from that question: Are You ‘thirsty’ for Him? Do you have a ‘passion’ for Him? Are you ‘relentlessly pursuing an ever-deepening relationship’ with Him?

If not, don’t rationalize it, don’t excuse it away.

Instead, realize that maybe–just maybe–you’ve developed passion for the wrong stuff!

Ask Him to begin stirring up a passion to know Him more within your heart.

He certainly wants to…but He won’t force it on you. He awaits your request.

Join me as I seek Him more!



Playing for the Wrong Audience

May 11, 2017

The Wrong Tune…

There’s a great scene in the old Blues Brothers movie (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) where they ‘substitute themselves’ for the band which has been scheduled at a rough country bar. They come out with their typical (and great, imo) ‘blues’ intro and are greeted by…crickets. Nothing. No welcome, no applause. It quickly goes spirals downward and bottles begin to be thrown at them. They realize that they’re playing to the wrong crowd, and change their music to fit the audience. (The ‘Stand By Your Man’ song is comic genius!)

The Wrong Audience…

I was reading the Gospel of John today and I realized that there were those who ‘played to the wrong audience’ there as well.

Specifically, in John 12:42-43 says, Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

These people were leaders.

They had seen the works that Jesus did (in John 11, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead!) He had cast out demons, restored sight to the blind, healed the leper, enabled the lame to walk, multiplied loaves and fishes to feed a great number of people…

They had seen all this, and heard His teaching–as one with actual ‘authority’ and understanding.

That’s why they had come to believe in Him.

But rather than changing their tune to get in line with their newfound faith, they hid that faith, and ‘played to the wrong audience’–the Pharisees.

They knew (rightly) that going all-in and declaring their faith in Jesus would mean getting excommunicated from the synagogue. They knew it would cost them, socially, financially, emotionally and relationally.

They refused to make that choice.

…and from the writing of the Gospels until today, everyone who reads these verses knows that their refusal to align themselves with Jesus was out of fear. Fear of the cost.

Make no mistake: The Fears were very real.

However, those fears were allowed to keep them away from Jesus, and therefore, their fears won the battle. Their ‘faith’ succumbed and was defeated (at least at that time).

We Get Confused…

Today, there is still a cost to follow Jesus. In fact, I believe that cost is increasing and will continue to do so, rapidly–even in our culture.

There is–and will be–increasing pressure to deny our faith, or at least to ‘keep quiet about it’ out of fear.

Fear of being ‘exposed’ as a Bible-Believing Christian, fear of being ‘labeled’ in a negative way, even (in the not-too-distant-future) fear of being pressured to conform to govt. policies which directly go against our allegiance to Jesus.

There will be a cost!

Those ‘fears’ are real!

So, what will we do?

Will we ‘play to the wrong audience’, or will we stand boldly, consistently and faithfully, and declare that Jesus IS Lord and Savior, no matter the cost.

Time to Stand…and Shine!

In fact, I believe that this will be one of the best times for The Church in America!

I believe that we will SHINE like stars in the night sky, the radiant Bride of Christ…IF we worship Him fully, and are willing to pay the costs.

By His grace, in His strength, I Will Stand!

Will you stand with me?


Go With The Flow!

April 10, 2017

There’s just something special about the sights and sounds of a flowing stream…peaceful, tranquil, refreshing…personally, I could lose myself just watching the flow.

…and Jesus wants us to!

So far in this series, I’ve written about our Thirst, the ‘Broken Cisterns’ we try to dig for ourselves to meet our own needs, and the Living Water (Jesus) that can finally quench that thirst, once and for all.

So, IF Jesus promised His followers, “Life, to the full” (John 10:10), and IF Jesus says, whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14), then it only makes sense that we ask the question: WHY do so many people who say they believe in Jesus Christ not live like this? Why do we still live as though we are ‘thirsty’ and are responsible for ‘digging our own broken cisterns’ and satisfying ourselves in our own wisdom and power?

I think there are probably several contributing factors, but the number one reason is that we don’t ‘go with the flow’.

The ‘Flow’ I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit.

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”(When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)” (John 7:37-39)

Most of us, even sincere, well-intentioned believers in Jesus, live as though we, ourselves, are ultimately responsible for making our ‘Christian life’ more ‘Christ-like’. We tell ourselves that we must ‘pick ourselves up’ and live out our faith in our own strength and wisdom.

Then, as these things fail, we get discouraged, we try harder, eventually we give up trying and assume that the ‘powerful Christian life’ we see in the Scriptures must be for ‘other’ people, or another time–not us.

I disagree.

I think that what Jesus described is precisely His will for you–and myself!

He wants us to be ‘in the flow’ of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to experience the ‘refreshing’ that only He can bring, the power to live it out that only being ‘in the flow’ can do. We were never meant to do it in our own strength.

The Apostle Paul would later write, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul’s point is that this ‘fruit’ is produced by the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives…not by self effort!

Religious self-effort is simply one more ‘broken cistern’ that many of us have dug.

We need, instead, to walk in the Holy Spirit…to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). (Actually the wording here means to ‘always keep being filled’ with the Holy Spirit)…the indication is that this is by design. This is how God designed it to work–that I am able to ‘live the Christian life’ in fullness and victory as I walk in step with The Holy Spirit. I am always in need, and will never get over it…but IF I’m willing to yield myself to His influence over me, THEN I can live it out.

That is what ‘going in the flow’ from a Biblical perspective, is.

…and it has always been crucial to the life of a Christ-follower.

Make no mistake: God wants YOU to experience peace, fullness, power and victory!

He will give it to you, as you humble yourself, come to Him constantly, and drink deeply from His ‘Stream’.



Quench Your Thirst!

April 7, 2017

We all know what it’s like to be thirsty–really thirsty.

Maybe you’ve worked in the sun all day, maybe you’ve had a hard run or workout, or you’ve simply been busy all day and away from a source.

In either case, very few things are better than a long drink of fresh, cool water.

Having a deep thirst deeply quenched is a great experience.


Truth is, all of us are thirsty. We are actually created to hunger and thirst…not only for water, but even more importantly, for God!

The problem is that we often try to ‘quench our thirst’ with other things.

Jesus had an interaction with a woman about this…

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 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.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 14: 5-15)

Jesus knew that this woman was ‘thirsty’, for more than simply literal ‘water’. She had a longing deep within for Living Water–water that would satisfy her spiritual thirst. He also knew that HE was The Source of that Living Water.

For her part, the woman was not ‘getting’ Jesus’ point.

He needed to help her identify her need…her thirst.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 14:16-26)

Jesus knew her need…but she either had never identified it, or had mis-identified it as a need for ‘the right man’. She had been through 5 husbands already, and was now living with another. Clearly, she was looking in the wrong place to have her need met!

Jesus wanted to meet that need–but not in a temporary way.

He wanted to help her see that her thirst was not for a man…her thirst was for Living Water–the kind that would soothe her soul’s desires. The kind that would never fail, never leave, never quit, and never run dry.

She needed Jesus…but first she had to identify her own thirst!


In our culture, we do the same thing.

We mis-identify our thirst for ‘stuff’ of this world…relationships, experiences, things…

These simply cannot satisfy our real thirst.

Like this woman, WE need to identify this fact: We are Thirsty!

We desire something that can really satisfy us and quench our thirst.

That ‘thirst’ was put there by God…it is to bring us to Himself!

Only Jesus–the source of Living Water–can quench it.

HE is our only hope of real satisfaction. HE is our only source of real Living Water–He is the key to all of it!


For some of us, we’re still going to other people, things, and experiences and have never gone–for real–to Jesus.

Others have gone to Jesus in the past, but have stopped ‘drinking’ Him in, letting Him fill us and quench our thirst.

We need a drink of Living Water!

Unlike a literal drink, Jesus–our Source of this water–really does satisfy us…for good!


Are you thirsty?

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