Connecting man to man to God
For week of April 15, 2012
Issue 404

The weekly newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
Our mission is to lead men to Jesus Christ and provide opportunity for Christian men to grow in their faith and minister to others. 

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All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:23-24 (CEB)

If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things look ‘little’ or ‘big.’
Elisabeth Elliot

by Bill Ellis
To say something is awesome, in the minds of some and especially the young, means that it is like none other. Sometimes in a church service we sing a little song which says repeatedly, “Our God is an awesome God” and the phrase is sung over and over, often becoming faster and louder as though that makes God even more awesome.

On our way leaving a church service we may ask someone, “How are you today?” and we may get their reply, “I’m awesome man, awesome.” Then the word gets moved around to describe a game, an automobile, an unusual sandwich and before the day is over the pizza we had for lunch may be described as “awesome man, awesome.”

It is strange that we use the same word to describe God as we use to describe a pizza. In the minds of some, it is cool, bad, eye-popping, overwhelming, and down the ladder to just plain “Impressive”.

However you slice it, the days and weeks after the first Easter were awesome and a million times beyond the very average awesome. The word “Awesome” may be more appropriate in describing God than Grandma’s cornbread and chicken dumplings.

Following His resurrection Jesus appeared to one, then two and to the 12 disciples and finally to more than 500 at one time. As the glorified Christ, He appeared in visions to Stephen, Paul and John. With solid evidence like that, how could any rational person ever doubt Him? .... Read this in full at

There's something different about Bubba Watson. And he doesn't care if you know it. The winner of the 2012 Masters golf tournament realizes he's not like most famous athletes. In fact, he welcomes it.

"People always ask 'Why is Bubba different?'" said Watson during a pre-Masters phone interview from Scottsdale, Ariz. "They're just trying to figure it out."

Watson's identity is not wrapped up in his freakishly long drives from his lanky 6-foot-3, 180-pound left-handed swing -- he leads the Tour with a 315-yard average.

Rather, take one look at his Twitter profile and you may figure out what's different about Watson: "@bubbawatson: Christian. Husband. Daddy. Pro Golfer. Owner of General Lee 1." And pay close attention to the order.... Read this in full at

by Jeremy Reynalds
In an era when PGA pros are lining up to take advice from golf gurus Sean Foley, Hank Haney or Butch Harmon, Bubba Watson is listening to no one. No one other than his caddie, that is.

According to a story by Jayne Thurber-Smith for Faith and Friends Magazine, a few years ago Watson’s anger was getting so out of control on the course that his caddy Ted Scott asked him to calm down or he would quit.

I knew I was acting immature between the ropes,” Watson said. Faith and Friends said he added, “I was having fun off the golf course but not happy on the course. I knew Teddy was right, and what he said hit home. I had to come up with a new mindset. For him to say that to me, knowing he might lose the income from working for me…that meant a lot for him to step up and say something.”

A good caddie is important in golf, and Faith and Friends said that to Watson a Christian caddie is priceless, and he never considered letting Scott go.

My caddy, my trainer Andrew Fisher, my wife Angie – they are all Christians,” he said. “I want my team to all believe in the same thing.” Faith and Friends said Watson knew he couldn’t get control of his anger on his own.... Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
What does a modern-day Christian patriarch look like?

That was the question my accountability group chose to tackle on one of our retreats a year ago. The term patriarch sounds so archaic and yet the patriarchs (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.) are so revered in scripture it felt like we owed it to ourselves to examine what made them “men after God’s own heart” and what would one look like today?

What is a modern-day patriarch?

A patriarch is a man who’s won the respect of God, as well as the love and respect of his own family and friends. They intuitively look to him as one of their primary examples of godliness and godly wisdom.... Read this in full at

I'm always amazed at the ways God can use someone else's story to shape us. Years ago I read a story by Jim Cymbala that affected the way I thought about those in need. After the final service one Easter Sunday, the pastor of the famed Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City felt exhausted. He took a seat on the edge of the platform. When he looked up, a man with matted hair and ragged clothing was walking toward him.

As he drew closer, the homeless man offered a crooked grin, revealing two missing front teeth. And his smell — alcohol, sweat, urine, and garbage — took Jim's breath away. Though Jim had worked with the homeless countless times before, this stench was worse than anything he'd ever encountered. Instinct compelled him to turn his head sideways and inhale before looking the man in the eyes.

Jim asked the man his story. David shared that he'd been living in an abandoned truck for the last six years. Jim knew where the story was heading, and reached for the money clip in his back pocket.

The man protested the offer; he didn't want any money. He wanted Jesus. Jim describes closing his eyes, asking for God's forgiveness. He felt soiled and cheap. Though Jim was a pastor, he'd wanted to get rid of the homeless man as fast as possible, this precious individual crying out for a relationship with Christ — the Savior whose good news Jim had preached all day.

The man buried his filthy face in Jim's chest. Jim talked about Jesus' love, but rather than just saying the words, they were alive inside him. The odor that turned his stomach now became the loveliest fragrance.

Jim felt as if Jesus was saying, Jim, if you and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose in my work — it has to do with this odor. This is the smell of the world I died for.

Though I've heard and read many stories, I've never forgotten this one. The words, This is the smell of the world I died for, have echoed through my mind and spirit on numerous occasions, reshaping my attitudes and responses to situations and people.”
Margaret Feinberg in Hungry for God: Hearing God's Voice in the Ordinary and the Everyday

Nearly 8 in 10 Protestant pastors strongly disagree that eternal life can be obtained through religions other than Christianity, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.

The survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors asked respondents for their reaction to the statement, "If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity." A full 77% of pastors strongly disagreed while 7% somewhat disagreed. Another 7% somewhat agreed, 5% strongly agreed, and 3% were not sure.

"Rob Bell's book Love Wins kicked off a discussion about the exclusivity of the Christian gospel," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. "But most pastors are more in line with historic Christian beliefs than Bell, who suggested that other faiths lead to heaven."

Pastors' beliefs regarding the exclusivity of Christianity differ from those of their parishioners, according to a new study conducted for the upcoming book "Transformational Discipleship" by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelly, and Philip Nation. When presented with the same statement, just 48% of adults who attend a Protestant church once a month or more disagreed strongly and 9% disagreed somewhat. A total of 26% agreed, including 13% who agreed strongly, and 13% who agreed somewhat. Sixteen percent indicated that they neither agreed nor disagreed.... See this interview in full at

Only the obedient believe. If we are to believe, we must obey a concrete command. Without this preliminary step of obedience, our faith will only be pious humbug, and lead us to the grace which is not costly. Everything depends on the first step. It has a unique quality of its own. The first step of obedience makes Peter leave his nets, and later get out of the ship; it calls upon the young man to leave his riches. Only this new existence, created through obedience, can make faith possible.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship, Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 64

by Mark Galli
Questions come in many forms today, and range from the theoretical to the personal: The Buddhist child who dies in some remote corner of China, having never heard the gospel — is she going to hell? Why would a good God allow my wife to get cancer? And so forth.

No matter how or why it is asked, its basic form is this: How do we know that God can be trusted to be good?

That question usually comes with a partial answer, which also depends on the particular concerns of the questioner. It often goes like this: "Well, I know one thing for sure, I could never believe in a God who would ___." Fill in the blank. Like: "I could never believe in a God who would condemn the Buddhist child to hell."

This is one way we shape our faith as we stand in the shadows of one of these dark scenarios. Faith becomes not confidence in the love of God but mostly a defensive bulwark against our nightmares, against the haunting possibility that God may be unjust and arbitrary.

But can we do better than this? Is there a way to face this question squarely — is God good? — and come away with even more confidence in the love of God? .... Read this in full at

by Rick Marschall
Happy new year! That’s one way to feel about the first day after Easter. “He is risen!” “He is risen indeed!” is how Christians of the first centuries would exchange greetings. All things are made new, after the Resurrection. But then, every day should bring the realization of a new life in Christ!

I have been thinking of the first times I heard about Jesus. Too early to remember an exact day, because I was fortunate to be born into a family of believers. “Church-goers.” As a child I had a standard faith – I use the term because it was only in my twenties that I came to an intense, personal knowledge of biblical truth and relationship with Jesus: born again. Yet, early on, seeds were planted; Bible stories were told; verses were memorized; prayers were said; hymns were sung.... Read this in full at

You can now get the free Bible Gateway app for your iPhone and iPad, with an Android version coming soon.

With the Bible Gateway app, you can:
* Read the Bible in many different translations
* Listen to audio Bibles
* Access a library of Bible study resources
* Highlight Bible passages and take notes
* Share verses with friends on your favorite social networks
Learn more at

by Peter Smith
Ben Witherington III has for years been an award-winning Bible scholar, moving fluidly between books on arcane scholarship and pop culture and gaining respect among a wide range of collaborators, including evangelical and mainline Protestants and Jews.

The United Methodist elder and preacher has helped prepare generations of pastors for ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., where he is professor of New Testament interpretation, and at other theological schools.

But never until this year has Witherington, 60, felt so viscerally the convictions he has tried to pass on to others — nor his opposition to theologies of pain and prosperity that he says come up empty in such moments.

On Jan. 11, Witherington received the phone call with news that his daughter, Christy, 32, was found dead in her North Carolina home.

Although she had suffered in recent years with kidney stones and the side effects of their treatment, and had just spent two weeks with her parents in December recuperating from one such bout, the cause of death came from an unexpected source: a blood clot.... Read this in full at

Christians have been part of Middle Eastern culture for 2,000 years, but many people don’t realize that a small minority of Arabs are Christians.

Pastor Esper Ajaj of the Arabic Baptist Church in Washington, DC, said that people often assume he is Muslim because of his background and accent. “I tell them that there are a lot of Christian people in the Middle East. In Egypt, there are 9 million Coptic Christians alone,” he said.

The Syrian-born pastor, an evangelical Christian, started his ministry in Washington in 1960.... Read this in full at

Gabe Lyons thinks Christian culture warriors are on the wrong path. His annual Q Conference, April 10-12 in Washington, DC, is an attempt to do things differently. With 700 participants gathered in a stately downtown auditorium, Lyons played host to a distinct kind of Christian conference, one that seeks a respectful, constructive conversation on a host of issues confronting the nation.

Q, which stands for “question,” allowed 30 different culture leaders — from New York Times columnist David Brooks to Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter — to present their ideas for the common good during the two-and-a-half day confab.

We feel we have a role to play in renewing the culture and holding back the effects of sin,” said Lyons, founder of Q, a nonprofit organization based in New York City. “We’re not to do it in an antagonistic way. We hope to do it in a hopeful way that gives witness to the rest of the world in how things ought to be.” .... Read this in full at

President Obama spoke at the Q conference via video April 10, a week after hosting many Christian leaders at the White House's Easter prayer breakfast. He and his family also celebrated Easter at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.

In his Q address, Obama referred to the Easter breakfast. "It was a time to reflect on what Christ did for us on the cross, and praise a God whose work in our midst didn't culminate on the cross, but continues today," Obama said. "That work can be found in our culture, our congregations, our missions, and our love for one another. It can be found in all of you who are doing your part around the world to address our most difficult challenges. God's hand is moving through his people." .... Read this in full at

The New York Times' youngest-ever op-ed columnist and also one of the few conservative Christians at the esteemed newspaper, Ross Douthat, made the case at the Q Conference April 10 that it is not atheism that is replacing American Christianity, but bad religion.

During an interview with Michael Cromartie, vice president at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, Douthat presented key points from his soon-to-be released book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, in which he examines the historical story of institutional Christianity in America and then makes the case that heresy – which includes the prosperity gospel – is threatening American society.

"The overview basically makes the case that what has happened in American religion over the last 50 years is not that the country has grown more secular in any meaningful way. And in fact, if you look at certain factors of religiosity in American life – people reporting direct experiences of God and spiritual experiences, even belief in miracles and afterlife – there is evidence that America is more religious now than in 1945 or 1955," said Douthat at the Q event in Washington, DC.... Read this in full at

by Russell E. Saltzman
I have decided to stop aging. I’ve tried it now for awhile but it simply doesn’t suit me, so I am giving up on it.

Other people have gone through it, I’m aware, but from what I can observe it almost always turns out badly for them. As lifestyles go, there’s just not much to be said for it in the long run. It will be like giving up cigars, I think. I can expect some lapses from time to time but if I keep at it with grit, determination, will power, and cessation pills I’ll be done with it once and for all, finished, all fixed.

My first unpleasant episode of aging came when I realized my thirty three-year-old beard had somehow turned to a color best described as a glowing, somewhat shimmering, reflective white. Overnight it seemed it stopped lending any dignity to my appearance.

It showed up best in color photographs. Family pictures that Christmas exhibited a strange diffused halo around my face, caused I figure by the camera flash failing to automatically compensate for the extra light. I looked like a skinny Santa Claus. I pointed this out to my wife, expecting her to say I looked just fine but she didn’t dispute it at all.... Read this in full at

Jesus said to everyone, ‘All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them.’”
Luke 9:23-24 (CEB)

God wants to speak into areas of your life you have never even considered. He wants to give you words and wisdom you didn't think were possible. He desires to do exceedingly more than you can hope or expect.”
Margaret Feinberg

by Marcus Brotherton
I saw the counselor four or five times, and I learned pretty quickly that a counselor’s role is not to solve your problems. I think I was hoping he’d do that, but it doesn’t work that way.

Rather, a counselor’s role is to offer objectivity and insight. It’s to help you cut through the forest, see the trees, and work toward solutions yourself.

Early in our sessions, the counselor quickly sketched a helpful diagram on the back of a napkin to illustrate how easy it is to let our objectivity get clouded so we’re not seeing correctly, and, conversely, what a difference an unclouded worldview makes.

He drew a line on a piece of paper, and on the far side he wrote this word: catastrophe.... Read this in full at

Barrett Jones, a 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound football player for the University of Alabama would stand out anywhere. But his love for God and his commitment to sharing the gospel also make him stand out from most of his peers.

"I don't want to be known as a football player who happens to be a Christian, I want to be known as a Christian who happens to play football," said Jones, an All-American for the 2011 national champion Crimson Tide.... Read this in full at

In his essay, ‘The Trouble with X,’ C. S. Lewis points out that we spot a fatal flaw in almost everyone we meet, even our closest friends. We say about them, ‘He's a very fine fellow, and I enjoy his company. If only it weren't for his...’ Yet we almost never see that fatal flaw in ourselves. We rationalize our weaknesses, explaining them away with references to our backgrounds or our good intentions.

Regardless of my accomplishments, my sophistication, my admirable traits, I must come to the humbling ground where I acknowledge I am not different from, but like every person who has ever lived. I am a sinner.

I cannot imagine a more difficult stumbling block in Christianity. It is relatively easy to inspire people with the Christian ethic of love; much liberal humanism is built on similar feelings. But every mechanism of self-protection within me cries out against this painful, renouncing step of identifying myself as a sinner. In that act I lose all the collected aspects of my identity and am known simply as a rebel against God.

Fortunately, however, I do not [have to] remain in that humbled state... After going through the humiliating act of losing myself by letting go of [my] pride, I suddenly find myself with a new identity: the exalted state that Paul describes as ‘in-Christness.’ No longer must I defend my thoughts, my values, my actions. I trade those in for the identity I am given as a son of God. I relinquish the responsibility for setting my ethical standards and my worldview.

My sense of competition quickly fades. No longer do I have to bristle through life, racking up points to prove myself. My role has ideally become to prove God, to live my life in such a way that people around me recognize Jesus and his love, not the other set of qualities that separate me from the world.

Previously, my main motivation in life was to do a painting of myself, filled with bright colors and profound insights, so that all who looked upon it would be impressed. Now, however, I find that my role is to be a mirror, to brightly reflect the image of God through me. Or perhaps the metaphor of stained glass would serve better, for, after all, God will illumine through my personality and body.”
Selections from Grace Notes: Daily Readings with Philip Yancey

Thousands, if not millions, of church members sitting in America’s pews aren’t really born-again Christians, a Washington, DC, pastor said April 10 to a pastors’ conference in Louisville, Ky.

Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in the nation’s capital, warned on the opening day of the 2012 Together for the Gospel Conference that “false conversions” are “the suicide of the local church.”

Dever was one of four religious leaders – with Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; C.J. Mahaney, president Sovereign Grace Ministries in Gaithersburg, Md.; and Ligon Duncan, senior minister at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss. – to convene the first Together for the Gospel event in 2006 to combat what they viewed as false teaching in many churches today. A statement of unifying doctrines includes male headship in the church and home and the need for church discipline of wayward members in local congregations.

This year’s conference, the fourth, was expected to draw 8,000 pastors and ministers April 10-12 to The Kentucky International Convention Center and KFC Yum! Center, with messages uploaded daily on the website Read this in full at

The Family International (TFI), a controversial Christian movement known for once using sexual favors to win converts, has launched significant reforms that have stunned cult watchers and followers alike.

Known originally as the Children of God, the group began in 1968 as part of the Jesus People movement but became infamous for its sexual libertarianism, prophetic obsession, and elitism.

Founder David Berg adopted evangelical views on many doctrines, but over time his teachings supplanted the Bible. Cult watchers criticized Berg's teaching that female disciples should use sexual favors—termed "flirty fishing"—to convert men to Jesus. More notoriously, the group once had an open attitude about sexual contact between adults and minors.

Both practices ceased by 1987, but even after Berg's death in 1994, TFI leaders Peter (nee Steve Kelly) and Maria (nee Karen Zerby, Berg's widow) taught that consensual sex between non-married adults was permitted in Family homes and encouraged members to think of Jesus as a love partner.... Read this in full at

Millions will answer the call to prayer on May 3rd in observance of the 61st annual National Day of Prayer. Organized events will be held in thousands of public venues where intercession will be made for America and its leadership.

This year's theme, "One Nation Under God," is based on Psalm 33:12 which says that "blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, said "At this perilous and uncertain juncture in our country's history, it is critical that we remain in prayer. The American people continue to be plagued with challenges that defy simple answers, and our hope lies in humbly seeking the Almighty's guidance, protection, and blessing -- not only on the National Day of Prayer, but throughout the year." .... Read this in full at

Friday is a big day in two of the world’s major religions. Christians celebrate Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, while Jews begin Passover, the holiday marking their ancestors’ escape from ancient Egypt. Which of the world's major religions has the most festivals and holidays throughout the year?

Hinduism and Catholicism. If you don’t take the spiritual or practical significance of holidays into account, Hindus and Roman Catholics are tied for the most, because pretty much every day of the year has some special significance in the religious calendar of each. Roman Catholics have sainted more than 10,000 people, and every day of the year is the feast day of a handful. Hindus recognize hundreds of deities, and most have celebrations for birthdays and significant milestones. There are also Hindu holidays celebrating the changing of the seasons, the harvest, lunar phases, and other notable natural events.... Read this in full at

Violins that outlived the owners who played them in the death camps and Jewish ghettos are being brought back to life by Amnon Weinstein in his shop in Tel Aviv. As Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance) gatherings occur around the world April, 18 violins tracked down and repaired by Weinstein will be unveiled in Charlotte, NC.

A dozen public concerts, worship services and other programs throughout the month are expected to attract thousands who are drawn to the music, and the history behind each instrument -- the first time the violins will be shared with the public in North and South America.

Weinstein hopes he can bring the violins to other communities, in a bid to recall the 6 million Jews and 5 million others who perished at Hitler's hand.

Weinstein, 72, lost some 380 relatives in the Holocaust -- "cousins from here to eternity," he said. These violins, he said, symbolize the power of music to outlive evil. They represent the dead, and speak for the aging survivors whose voices are being silenced by time.... Read this in full at

Elder William Walker slipped white booties over his black wing-tip shoes and instructed his guests to do the same as he led them into the newest Mormon temple in the world.

This day was the first chance the public had to see inside the sacred space for the area’s 49,000 Mormons, and it was also one of the last.

On May 6, when Thomas S. Monson, the head of the 14 million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, dedicates this temple, the doors will close forever to the public. The church said it expects as many as 100,000 visitors in Kansas City before the temple will be closed to the public.... Read this in full at

Christ has turned all our sunsets into dawns.”
Clement of Alexandria

He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed.”
1 Peter 2:24 (CEB)

Words: Grant C. Tullar, 1905
Music: Joseph W. Lerman

The day was dark, and all seemed lost when to the tomb
They bore the form of Christ the crucified.
Loved ones hoped that He would reign—
But their hopes were all in vain,
For they saw Him as upon the cross He died.

But there dawned a resurrection morn so fair,
When the Savior rose from out the tomb;
For the angels came and rolled the stone away,
And today is banished all earth’s gloom.

The stone before the door was set and firmly sealed—
A guard was placed to watch by night and day,
For they feared that from the dead
He would rise as He had said,
Or perchance His own would spirit Him away.


Oh, sad and lonely ones today, look up! rejoice!
The empty tomb with praises may resound,
Over mountain, hill and plain,
Let there ring the glad refrain,
Bringing hope and cheer wherever man is found.


>from NetHymnal at

The immediate person thinks and imagines that when he prays, the important thing, the thing he must concentrate upon, is that God should hear what HE is praying for. And yet in the true, eternal sense it is just the reverse: the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God wills. The immediate person, therefore, uses many words and, therefore, makes demands in his prayer; the true man of prayer only attends.”
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Journals, ed. Alexander Dru, Oxford University Press, 1959, #572, p. 153-154


Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.

I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!

Marital harmony
Family unity
Children saved
Faithful pastor
Spirit-filled church
Real friendships
Relatives redeemed
Educational benefits
Recreational time
Fulfilling career
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will

Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
Estates & inheritances
Investment increase
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase

"And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deut. 28:2).

[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you'd like us to add you to our prayer chain to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness. I'll add your name to the list for the time you'll be away.]

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No husband truly understands his wife until he understands every word she is NOT saying.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor

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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box! 

The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ. 
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program. 
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