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User Archives: John van der Veen

  • Marks of a Spiritual Father

    Posted on February 17, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John van der Veen

    A few years ago, I was teaching a Sunday School class through the book of 1 Corinthians.  In it we learn of both Paul's love for this motley crew and his passion for their pursuit of Christ.

     

     

    In chapter four he encourages them to think about the various marks of a spiritual father.  At this point in time I think it would be good for us to consider these.  Keep in mind that the list that Paul uses is defiantly not exhaustive, nor is it just for "spiritual" fathers.  Us "regular" dads would be good to take to Paul's words of encouragement here.

    Admonishes
    Paul writes in verse 14, "I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as a my beloved children."  He is urging them to move beyond the sin that they have become so comfortable with.  How often do you seek a father who would be willing to speak truth into your life?  Telling you to leave the sin behind?  How often as a father do you do the same to the ones that you love?

    Loves
    As stated above, Paul calls this group of people his "beloved children."  There is a genuine care here.  There are times in my past where I would find it much easier to shun someone that has disappointed me.  Paul's approach to discipline is to love them greatly.  I am reminded that because we have been loved greatly, so we are called to love greatly.

    Teaches
    Paul continues in verse 15, "though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers."  Paul knows that there are a lot of people that are more than willing to give advise.  Good advise doesn't do much for us, does it.  We need a good teacher.  A father can certainly be that for us.

    Lives by Example
    "I urge you, then, be imitators of me."  What a verse.  How bold of Paul to state something like this verse.  At first glance it may look intimidating for us.  We think that we would never be able to say something like that to someone else.  Listen here to what Paul is saying; he is not saying that he is perfect and that we need to be perfect like him.  That is the furthest thing from the truth.  What Paul is saying is that he is a sinner, but regardless of his sin, he continues to find his life hidden with Christ.  That statement is true for you and I, dear friend.  When we know that, we can boldly say, "be imitators of me."  Because we know that our lives are hidden in Christ - and that is where we have all the confidence we need.

    Disciplines
    In verse 21, Paul writes, "What do you wish?  Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in spirit of gentleness?"  Proverbs 13:24 says, "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him."  Paul was not afraid of using a "rod" to bring discipline to his children in the church of Corinth.  They needed it.  To some extent, if Paul did not use it, he would showing them that he hates them.  Often times in our lives, as fathers, it may be easier to not bring the "rod" to our children, but in doing so we are communicating hate.  God disciplines those He loves and as fathers (spiritual or regular) we need to bring discipline.  In some cases, it's a matter of love or hate.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Fathers

  • Le/Re - The Prefix Says it All

    Posted on February 14, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John van der Veen

    Back when I was in high school, the French car company, Renault, made a very unique car. Actually, I take that back, it wasn't very unique. It was just a car. It looked similar to that of my 1978 Honda Civic. What made this car stand out, I guess, was that it was not just any old car, but the French company added a "Le" to the front of it. They made "Car" into "Le Car."

    Perhaps the people who purchased and drove Le Car felt that they were experiencing the fullest extent of French living. In all honesty, I never owned or even drove a Le Car. I thought they looked funny.

    What intrigued me most, was the prefix. I assume that Renault felt that it would stand out more with the "Le" in front of the name. The prefix said it all. It wasn't just another car. It was "Le Car."

    I am not here to really blog about Le Car, but about prefixes. If you would like to know about Le Car, go here.

    So if the prefix "Le" can change the uniqueness of a car, I wonder if there are more significant prefixes...

    Wikipedia offers the following as samples:

    • unhappy : un is a negative or antonymic prefix.
    • prefix, preview : pre is a prefix, with the sense of before
    • redo, review : re is a prefix meaning again.

    I love the "re" prefix. Not so much the prefix itself, but rather how it radically changes words.

    For instance, think of the word "new." At one time we were all new. When we were born, we were new. Now, on the other hand, we are not new. We are all getting older. We are losing our innocence. We are losing our strength. We are not new.

    BUT

    If you add the "re" in front of the word "new" something dramatic happens. What was once old becomes new again. RENEW.

    Revelation 5:21 says, "And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

    The good news is that God is renewing. Right now. He is renewing you. Sometimes you may not feel it, and some days you may even doubt it. I assure you though, He who began a work in you is faithful to complete it. You are being renewed.

    How about generating. For many of us our lives consisted of generating the wrong things. Sin. Rebellion. Angst. Hate.

    BUT

    When you add the prefix "re" in front of generating, you find a completely different meaning. REGENERATED.

    Titus 3:5 says, "He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit."

    Think of all the possibilities here:

    1. restored/restoring
    2. recreated/recreating
    3. redeemed/redeeming
    4. reconciled/reconciling
    5. reformed/reforming
    6. resurrection
    7. relearning
    8. recreating
    9. replacing
    10. revitalizing
    11. reborn

    Never forget my friends, what our Savior is doing in us. Psalm 65:5 says, "By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas."

    Live in the freedom of the prefix today. It says it all.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, John van der Veen and was tagged with Psalm, Titus, Revelation

  • Growing in Christ

    Posted on February 12, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John van der Veen

    There are a bunch of "how to" books, seminars, conventions, pamphlets, etc. out there that deal with almost every topic under the sun. In fact there is even a great web site that shows one how to do most of everything. Click here to see for yourself.

    Now I am one that doesn't know a lot of information about much. In fact I know very little information about a lot of stuff. Which pretty much makes me dangerous. Don't ask me to come to your house to fix your plumbing, sew a hem on your pants, or help you train your dog to do tricks. I guarantee you, it would end up in a mess. I do know to how do the dishes though... (please don't ask me to help you with that)

    OK - I feel like I am rambling now. Back to the "how to's."

    In my head, I am always thinking on how to grow in Christ. So for fun, I thought I would check out the site to see if it could give me some good advice. Not really. Religious listing can be found here (with over 4,500 entries), but I wasn't satisfied. The closest thing I could get to actually growing in my Christian walk was found in this article on how to convert to Christianity.

    It's not what I was looking for.

    I guess, I should have known. The internet is good for a lot of things, but certainly not everything.

    Here are some basic principles that I have gathered through the years that, perhaps, would help you in your pursuit of Christ.

    1. The Word. First and foremost be in the Bible. Read the Bible. Pray the Bible. Share the Bible. Teach the Bible. Listen to the Bible. If you want to see Jesus, you must read the Word. I would suggest that most of us say that we are "lovers of the Word," but few of us actually live that out well. I don't want to guilt you into reading your Bible, but I do want to say that you will miss out on so much joy if you don't get into the Word.
    2. Exalt Christ. Many of you are probably saying, "Of course John. Duh." Let me must just say from my own personal experience that the draw of the things of this earth are so extreme it is very hard to keep a focus on exalting Christ. Of of life is about Christ and our goal should be to lift His name higher than any other name. When we do, it seems that the things of this earth are easier to deal with. Problems are easier. Life is easier. It's mainly because we aren't keeping our eyes focused on ourselves, but on Christ. Worship Him today. It will make your heart glad.
    3. Worship God in Every Area of Your Life. This is very different from item #2. Worshiping God in every area of our lives means to live doxologically. You know the hymn, work the lyrics of that song into your soul. Living doxological means to worship God in every moment of your life. When you are kissing your best friend - worship God. When you are riding your bike - worship God. When you are washing the dishes (did I say I wash dishes well?) - worship God. You get the picture here.
    4. Pray. Pray for everyone and everything. Bring it all to the Father. He hears and He cares. Bring every question, every thought, every concern, every tiff to your Father. Pray because we are at war. The devil prowls around ready to pounce. Have a stance of constant prayer puts us in the right mindset. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for your family. Pray for your school. Pray for your job. Pray for your spouse, or future spouse. To borrow the Nike phrase, "Just do it."
    5. Serve. Serving others helps us get our minds off of our own circumstances. As I have already noted, we get so bogged down by the stuff of earth. So do others. When we are serving someone else we quickly loose site of our own problems. We often forget to serve others. It's one of the hardest things to do, but once we do, we find that it actually was very easy. Serve someone today. If you need ideas, check out this book.
    6. Fellowship. Get together with your church family. Get together with someone's heart. Get to know me. I need to get to know you. Have people over for a meal, or dessert, or coffee, or a game night. It doesn't matter. Spend time together encouraging one another in a pursuit of Christ.

    Phil. 3:8 says "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ"

    So there are some thoughts on growing in Christ. Let me also say that growing or sanctification is not just your doing. The Holy Spirit is doing a lot "behind the scenes" in your life as well. Trust Him and He will lead you.

    Now - I need to figure out to change the coolant in my car...


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Books, John van der Veen and was tagged with Missions, Philippians

  • Today's New Releases (2/11/14)

    Posted on February 11, 2014 by John van der Veen



    The middle of February brings out some great new releases. New books, new music and new DVDs. There is enough here for your whole family to enjoy, for personal growth or to give as a gift of encouragement.

    WOW Gospel 2014

    Filled with songs that lived at the top of the gospel radio charts in 2013, this double CD set is chock full of hits, including songs from Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Tasha Cobbs, Deitrick Haddon, Lecrae and more. WOW Gospel 2014 is a must-have for fans of modern worship music, and it's perfect for singing along to all year!

    Don't forget the companion DVD as well.

    Grace Unplugged

    In Grace Unplugged, Grace Trey aspires to more than just singing at her church, where the worship leader is her former pop-star father. With the help of Mossy, her dad's former manager, Grace records a cover version of her dad's old Top-10 hit, runs off to Los Angeles and begins to experience the kind of fame she's always dreamed about.

    Stardom offers Grace a hit song - but will the fame be too much for Grace to handle and blind her faith? Or will she rediscover it? Starring actress and musician A. J. Michalka, Grace Unplugged is an inspiring story about chasing your dreams.

    Soundtrack for the movie can be found here.

    The Storm Inside

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith.

    In The Storm Inside, you will find strength in the most profound truths - that you are always a child of God no matter how you feel. This simple teaching will be the difference between a life of joy and one of despair. Sheila powerfully reminds us that God offers no guarantee of a life without storms, but He does provide the strength and grace to make it through them.

    Glory

    When a band’s first priority is to declare God’s glory through song, it doesn’t worry too much about fitting into one particular genre of music. Perhaps that’s why some fans have alternating definitions of Kutless, the best-selling rock . . . , no, worship . . . no, rock/worship hit makers from Portland, OR. On the inspiring new studio album Glory, its eighth with BEC Recordings, a perfect balance is struck as lead singer Jon Micah Sumrall, guitarists James Mead and Nick de Partee, and drummer Kyle Peek celebrate with electrifying abandon not their collective identity but the mighty name of Jesus.

    “Our goal with Glory was simply to worship louder and clearer than ever before,” de Partee says of the amped up and sometimes stripped down set. “We felt led to create original songs that could be sung on an acoustic guitar in a Bible study or in an arena with the masses shouting God’s praises.”

    Kutless kicks off 2014 with Glory, featuring the single "You Alone." Continuing their transformation from "new band" to established act that began with 2012's Believer, the album showcases the band's massive range, featuring a more mature tone and stunning performances.

    Crash the Chatterbox

    Inside your head and heart is a chatterbox. Its lies are keeping you from realizing your God-given potential. What can you do about it? In Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God's Voice Above All Others, Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas in which negative thoughts are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement. He asks, "What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?"

    With personal stories, inspiring examples, and practical strategies, Pastor Furtick shows you how to silence the lies and embrace the freeing affirmation of God. You'll learn how to crash the chatterbox - and hear God’s voice above all others.

    City Harbor

    City Harbor presents their debut, self-titled album, featuring their first radio single, "Come However You Are." The duo of Molly Reed and Robby Earle brings a unique creative, organic pop sound, which skillfully showcases their songwriting, dual lead vocals and playing. The songs on City Harbor come from a desire to know Christ and to make Christ known to the world around.

    Besides the new releases, there are plenty of prebuy opportunities as well. New music from MercyMe and Francesca Battistelli. New DVD from VeggieTales and a new movie from Kirk Cameron. Click here to see them all.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe, VeggieTales, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, WOW, Grace Unplugged, Sheila Walsh, Steven Furtick, City Harbor, Kirk Cameron

  • The Relentless Love Affair

    Posted on February 11, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John van der Veen

    Oh my. The relentless pursuit of Christ for His Bride. We can look at ourselves all we want. We can dress ourselves all we want. We can spend on ourselves all we want. We can work ourselves all we want. But nothing. Nothing will make us look any better than what we are.

    AND YET.

    And yet in the midst of all of our contradictions, Jesus, who knows everything about us, says that we are His.

    Last night we talked about how God's fierce love for His Bride is often found in discipline. We often will react to God's discipline in a negative way, but it's really His discipline that is also His grace. This is what Hosea was sharing with Gomer, or Israel rather. God was issuing a call of repentance. For He has loved her with an everlasting love. One that could not be shaken or disturbed. This was a promise He made first with Adam, then Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Isaiah, Hosea and culminated in Christ.

    In Hosea 2:19, God says to Israel that He will betroth her to Him. Forever. That in Him is found righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness. And these attributes are found in the robe of Christ. This very robe that He puts around us. In the midst of our sin, we washes us with His robe. So that now we can walk as Peter tell us in 1 Peter 2.

    You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received God's mercy, but now you have received mercy.

    Praise God for who He is and what He has done for us!


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion and was tagged with 1 Peter, Hosea

  • The God of the Dark

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by John van der Veen

    Close your eyes for a second. Well, close your mind's eye. Think back at all the beautiful moments you have seen throughout your life. Some of us may have less than others and that's ok. Just bring some of them back.

    Perhaps you were standing on the edge of the crashing waves on the Pacific Ocean. Others may have experienced the rocks of Zion National Park. Some have lain on a grassy plains in the middle of Nebraska and have been in awe of such a grand land. Perhaps you have enjoyed the peacefulness of a bubbling brook along the Appalachian Trail. It doesn't matter where you have been in life, I am fairly certain that each one of us has been able to capture a moment when beauty was lit up for us.

    There we stood. In amazement as the God of the universe was showing His handiwork. In moments like those, it's almost as if our breath is knocked out of us. Such beauty. Such glorious artwork in the creation. How do we behold such artistry?

    Now picture those places in the middle of the night. The ocean waves still crash against those rocks at 1 AM. Don't they? The majesty of mountains, plains, brooks are all still there in the darkest part of the night.

    Who enjoys those times? God could have given His creation a break in those hours when no one is looking. The ocean could rest. The brook wouldn't have to bubble up. You see what I mean. Why is all the beauty of God's creation that is visible during the day is still there in the darkest hour?

    Perhaps the intent is to remind us of something.

    There are moments in all our lives when we face dark times. The doctor shares bad news with us. We lose our jobs unexpectedly. We discover that our closest friend is actually not as close as we thought. Life is hard. It's not all sunny. It's not all roses. There are dark times.

    And yet, God never leaves us, does He? For even when we don't see Him, we hear Him. Even when we don't believe He is close, He is there. Those dark moments in life, yes, He is still there. Right with us. Just like a crashing wave at 1 AM. We may not see it, but it's still there. We may not see the vastness of the plains of Nebraska in the darkness of night, but they are still there. Reminding us that God is the God of the light and the God of the dark.

    “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion and was tagged with Featured, Psalm

  • The Letter Black - Up From the Ashes

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by John van der Veen

    Have you heard the new album from The Letter Black yet?  Continuing on sonic strength of their previous albums, Breaking the Silence and Hanging By a Thread, their new release Rebuild, proves to be just as strong.

    Rebuild is produced by former RED guitarist Jasen Rauch and mixed by David Bendeth, It is a full of energy-infused, hard-hitting collection of songs.

    Check out their new single, Up from the Ashes, here.

    What do you think?


    This post was posted in Music, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, RED, The Letter Black

  • What God is Teaching Me - Ernie Haase

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by John van der Veen

    I recently sat down with Ernie Haase from Signature Sound and asked him a single question, "what is God teaching you now?"

    Now if you know anything about Ernie, you will know that he is a fun loving man. Not only is he a great singer in one of America's top southern Gospel quartets, but he is a husband, a father and practically a stand-up comedian. At first blush, I thought that Ernie would answer this in a really simple way. Or tell an elaborate joke first.

    Neither. He simply answer the question is a honest way. A real way.

    Ernie: It's very, very simple.

    Be still, just be still.

    There could be 100 amazing things good that happen at a concert and I'll go back and lay in my bunk on the bus and stress and fret over the one thing that didn't go right.

    Now I know that at this point in my life I know that I have ever been in control. God's always been in control, steering me. So I'm just going to relax and enjoy the trip. I'm just going to be still and enjoy the moment.

    So what about you? What has God been teaching you lately?


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Signature Sound, Ernie Haase

  • Having Faith in a Marriage - Tony & Lauren Dungy

    Posted on January 30, 2014 by John van der Veen


    What is the key to an "uncommon" marriage? Tony and Lauren Dungy answer this question.

    Tony: Lauren and I have been married over 30 years now. I think our faith has been a big part of our marriage. To me, faith is so important in marriage because everything isn't going to to perfectly and you do have to come together as two people becoming one partnership. You have to trust in the Lord and you have to put the Lord first, in the center of a relationship, to make it work. That's easier said than done. When you tell other people about it or you counsel other people, it's easy to say, "Here's where you've got to have faith. Just believe and go forward." But when it is happening to you and things are coming up in your marriage, to really concentrate on the Lord and say, "I know he's in the middle of this." That becomes difficult at times, but it's what you have to do.

    Lauren: We've found that you have to really rely on your Christian principles and the biblical principles that you know and believe in, because you have to expect there will be conflict, there will be challenges in your life. That's going to happen in any marriage, but the world has a way of dealing with the challenges and problems, or you can follow God's ways, and God's ways are always going to keep you united. Even in your conflicts and challenges, there should be joy in the midst.

    Tony: We really do feel like that has been really the basis for how we have stayed together and grown, is that we have listened to the Lord and listened to the Bible, as opposed to listening to worldly wisdom or what our society says about marriage. We've tried to rely on those biblical principles and let them guide us and not what society says.

    Interested in hearing more from the Dungy's? Click here for their line of books.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Marriage, Tony Dungy, Lauren Dungy

  • New Releases for January 28

    Posted on January 28, 2014 by John van der Veen


    Ahhh, the doldrums of mid-winter are over. At least that's what it seems like in our stores today. There are a slew of new releases available. Many people of all ages have been waiting for these. From Casting Crowns to Kirk Cameron. From a modern day parable of the story of Joseph to a Bible that points to Jesus throughout the whole book.

    Here are the new releases for today, January 28, 2014.

    Casting Crowns - Thrive

    So many of us today are simply surviving. But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive! We should be digging into God's word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories - knowing Him and making Him known.

    Thrive, the seventh studio album from Casting Crowns, is packed with the band’s signature style of songs about real life that redefine our identity in Christ, pointing us to our purpose from Him so that we may carry it out through Him. Featuring 12 brand new songs, including the lead single "All You've Ever wanted," the album centers on the themes of "Reaching Out" and "Digging Deep."

    Jamie Grace - Ready to Fly

    In 2012, Jamie Grace received her first GMA Dove Award - for New Artist of the Year - and now she returns with her second album, Ready to Fly. The record's first single, "Beautiful Day," continues her message of staying strong and experiencing life to the fullest. Ready to Fly is about waiting, yet while you’re waiting being ready to move - ready to fly - when the timing is right.

    The Jesus Bible

    Jesus isn’t just found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His presence can be felt throughout the whole Bible, even in Genesis. The Jesus Bible contains the complete New International Version (NIV) with daily study helps that point to Jesus and show how he fulfilled the prophecies for the Messiah found in the Old Testament.

    Kirk Cameron - Unstoppable

    Kirk Cameron presents the follow-up to his bestselling film, Monumental. In Unstoppable, Kirk takes you on a personal and inspiring journey to better understand the biggest doubt-raiser in faith: Why? He goes back to the beginning - literally - as he investigates the origins of good and evil and how they impact our lives and our eternities.

    Reminding us that there is great hope, Unstoppable creatively asks and answers the age-old question: Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?

    Seasons of Gray - A Modern Day Joseph Story

    Seasons of Gray is a modern day retelling of the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. This uplifting feature film is quality family entertainment with strong morals and an enduring message of hope.

    What man intends for evil, God intends for good . This simple, yet powerful, message is all Brady Gray has left. His brothers, driven by jealousy, cast away their own flesh and blood in the same way that Joseph was sold into slavery by his siblings. Heartbroken and separated from his family, Brady holds tightly to his faith and begins to build a new life for himself - but there are more challenges in store for this servant of God.

    False accusations land Brady in prison, where his God-given gift of interpreting dreams helps him forge friendships that will play an important role in his ultimate salvation. Upon his miraculous release from prison, Brady discovers, as his dreams predicted, that his brothers direly need his help. Despite the pain and suffering caused by his betrayal, Brady must find the strength to embrace one of the Bible’s most important messages: We forgive because we are forgiven.

    Girls of Grace - Live. Love. Lead.

    Girls of Grace: Live Love Lead is an in-depth look at God’s grace and how it marks our daily lives. Simply put, a Girl of Grace is a girl who lives freely, loves fiercely and leads fearlessly. To live freely means to live in the light of the Gospel of Grace; to love fiercely is to actively demonstrate Christ’s love to the world around us; and to lead fearlessly is a charge to be brave and to take a stand.

    A soundtrack to the "Girls of Grace" conferences held nationwide, Girls of Grace: Live Love Lead is full of chart-topping hits that will inspire and encourage teenage girls everywhere. With popular songs from top Christian artists, this compilation is the perfect soundtrack for her life as she finds her way in the world through faith.

    Besides the new releases, there are plenty of prebuy opportunities as well. New CD from Francesca Battistelli. New DVD from VeggieTales and a new movie from Kirk Cameron. Click here to see them all.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies, Bibles and was tagged with Featured, VeggieTales, Francesca Battistelli, Casting Crowns, Jamie Grace, Kirk Cameron, NIV, Girls of Grace

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