Ashley Madison, Public Shaming, and the Light of Christ
The Ashley Madison hack and subsequent revelation of its members drive home our society’s glee over exposing the sin of others, particularly when those others are involved in ministry (“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” James 3:1).
6 Reasons Catechisms Make Truth Stick
“The catechisms are excellent tools to focus like a scope of a rifle. They give us clearer insight into who we are, who God is, how we respond, and how to live life with others. Because of the many faithful pastors who have gone before us, we have at our disposal a collection of confessional, rich, and succinct declarations of our God and our faith.”
The Quaint Quibbles Dividing Catholics and Protestants
I’ve been involved in ecumenical works for almost thirty years, and am all for divided Christians growing closer to each other, but my heart leaps a bit when I come across a Protestant writer saying “We’re right and they’re wrong.” It may feel like a bucket of ice water thrown on a group hug, but it wakes everyone up.
Need We Jail Each Other Over Marriage Licenses?
“This zero-sum culture war cannot continue if the social fabric of America is to have any chance of unifying around a robust pluralism. What’s next is unknown, but Christians must exercise due diligence when thinking through the complex webs of navigating religious liberty with the Romans 13 obligation to see law and order followed—even laws we consider contrary to the common good and human flourishing.”
Navy Stands Behind Chaplain Who Shared Christian Beliefs
“I am relieved the Navy sided with me,” Modder said in a statement released by Liberty Institute, which represented him. “I have served honorably for 20 years in diverse units in the Marine Corps and Navy.”
Pastoral Reality: Ecclesiastes-Style
“I have come to believe that some of the most helpful pastoral reminders for any man preparing for ministry comes from the book of Ecclesiastes. After all, it was written by “the Preacher!” (Eccl. 1:1). Here are five valuable lessons from Ecclesiastes to remember in pastoral ministry.”
The Methods vs. The Message
Evangelism, remember, is the proclamation of the gospel—telling the story, announcing the news. Some fear that they don’t know enough to evangelize. I say, “Tell them what you do know.” Leave the defense of the truth claims to the apologist and hold forth the simple message of the gospel.
3 Reasons Contemporary Worship IS Declining, and What We Can Do to Help the Church Move On
This issue has been framed poorly: It’s not about old vs. new. It’s not about old vs. young (especially these days). It’s not about taste. It’s not about what kind of music God likes more. It’s not really about music. It’s about the very purpose of gathered worship. It’s about unity, not choice. It’s about Holy Scripture, not self-help. It’s about theology, not experience. It’s about participation, not consumption. It’s about liturgy, not jesusy entertainment. It’s about being a church for the world, not getting butts in the seats. It’s about ancient and future, not just now.
Why Must We Forgive?: A Review
Gale highlights the importance of confessing our sins because, “when we confess our sins, we align ourselves with God” (5). We are acknowledging our sin for what it really is and affirming the goodness of God’s law. And God isn’t only merciful to forgive our sins. This verse says that he is faithful and just, reminding us of the transaction that is taking place in forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s work on our behalf.
9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse
Throw out the word “secret.” Explain the difference between a secret and a surprise. Surprises are joyful and generate excitement, because in just a little while something will be unveiled that will bring great delight. Secrets, in contrast, cause isolation and exclusion. When it becomes customary to keep secrets with just one individual, children are more susceptible to abuse. Perpetrators frequently ask their victims to keep things secret just between them.
All She Had To Do To Get Out Of Jail Was To Say, “I Recant”
On a memorial stone: In the memory of Pastor Pierre Durand, condemned to death and executed in Montpellier. 1700*-1732. And of her sister, Marie Durand, prisoner for 38 years in the Tour de Constance. 1715-1776. “If my Savior calls me to seal his Holy Gospel with my blood, his will is perfect.” – Pierre Durand. “Registez” [resist] – Marie Durand
Something Rotten in the State of Britain
As a result, it has been estimated that over 1,400 girls were sexually abused from 1997 to 2013—and the Rotherham case is not an isolated incident. There have been at least eight other cases of sexual abuse networks in Britain, all of them involving Muslim men from immigrant communities who, often with the help of drugs, raped underprivileged British girls. How could this happen in an enlightened, civilized country?
At What Point Does the Homosexual Agenda Become a National Religion?
Why should Christianity and Judaism be any worse off – precisely because they are “deeply rooted in history and tradition” – than a new religion that is the antithesis of something rooted in our history and tradition? Does the fact that the homosexual agenda is not deeply rooted – the very litmus test required to assert a fundamental right – instill it with more legitimacy to imprison violators than the Christian religion which has been the dominant religion since the founding of the country?
Samuel Rodriguez on the GOP’s Latino Dilemma
Samuel Rodriguez founded the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which claims more than 40,000 Latino evangelical churches as members. He’s also on the board of the National Association for Evangelicals and a fierce advocate for immigration reform…. To me, immigration reform is not a political issue. It’s the very future of American evangelical Christendom, so that’s what moves me and compels me to address the issue of immigration reform.
Gospel Light Voluntarily Files for Reorganization Under Chapter 11
Established by Henrietta Mears in 1933, Gospel Light has been a leader in the publishing of Sunday School Curriculum, Vacation Bible School materials, Bible lessons and church ministry resources that help church leaders fulfill the mission of the church, “to know Christ and to make Him known.”
What exactly is ‘Unconditional Love?’
FAITH & INSPIRATION | ‘Unconditional love’ is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card
Judge Orders Removal of Oklahoma Ten Commandments Monument Within 30 Days
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A state district judge has ordered that a Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma state capitol grounds must be removed within 30 days. Seventh District Court Judge Thomas Prince issued the order on Friday after he denied a motion by Attorney General Scott Pruitt, which asserted that a June order by the Oklahoma…
Humanist Group Takes Texas Teacher to Task for Christian Cross in Classroom
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A Washington-based humanist organization is taking a Texas teacher to task who allegedly has a Christian cross in her elementary school classroom and at times references God to her students. The American Humanist Association (AHA) sent a letter on Thursday to the superintendent of the Brownsville Independent School District and the principal…
Scholastic comes out of the closet with book for 3rd graders about transgendered 8 year old
GEORGE describes the quandary faced by an eight-year-old child growing up during the height of America’s second sexual revolution and searching for a way to tell everyone he is really a she.
John Piper says Kim Davis likely morally & legally right
John Piper, found of Desiring God Ministries, in a Friday podcast, Is Kim Davis Right to Refuse Marriage Licenses? said clearly he believes Kim Davis is morally right and probably legally right in refusing to put her name on same sex marriage licenses.
Moses’ marriage, and why racism is like leprosy
Moses’ marriage provides a devastating rebuke to one of the most grievous sins of this or any age.
Carson Winning Evangelicals, Trump Most Loved and Most Hated
Dr. Ben Carson is winning among white Evangelicals, and celebrity billionaire Donald Trump is both the most loved and unloved candidate in Iowa, according to the most recent Iowa poll on the Republican presidential race.
The Pretribulational Rapture Bullies
It’s time we stood up for the truth and opposed the pre-tribulational rapture bullies. They want us to think that Christ could come at any time for His church. We must stop this dangerous deception!
We’ve been through all this before and responded often enough. Some of these critics are even Five Point Calvinists. Think about it. So is there some other dynamic driving their attacks?
The Most Dangerous Cult: Liberalism
Jan Markell, Eric Barger, and Jill Martin Rische spend the hour discussing the most dangerous cult, the cult of liberalism. Mainline Protestantism caved to it 150 years ago and now evangelicals are doing the same. Liberalism is ravaging our churches, colleges, and seminaries. Find out who the leaders of this movement are and how you can combat liberalism if it is in your world and church. Though the liberal church will say they are Christians, they have taken their eyes off of the important issues of eternity. We use the mobile app found at http://www.oneplace.com.
The very first time I raised concerns about the Kansas City Prophets and the International House of Prayer over 15 years ago over their extra-biblical activities, I was rebuked by another Christian with this statement, “You just don’t understand what is going on. If people’s lives are being changed then God is working so you should just shut up.”
Back in 2006 when God opened my eyes to what the leadership at our church was doing with the Purpose Driven stuff and I raised the alarm I was rebuked again with pretty much the same argument. I was told that I should just kick back and cooperate so that the church could peacefully go Purpose Driven so that God could work there and people’s lives could be changed. When I began commenting on the old Slice of Laodicea blog about that same time, those PDC apologists who hated our firm stance against it said very much the same thing.
Abortion Survivor to Congress: ‘If Abortion Is About Women’s Rights, Then What Were Mine?’
(CN) — A 38-year-old woman who survived a saline abortion in 1977 shared her story before Congress on Wednesday, speaking out against abortion and Planned Parenthood’s continued slaughter of unborn children.
Gianna Jessen was miraculously born alive at a Los Angeles Planned Parenthood facility after her mother sought an abortion while seven months pregnant. Her mother had been advised to have a saline abortion, which burns the child with a caustic chemical and then suffocates them to death. The dead child is then removed the following day.
Fox News’ Shepard Smith Rails Against Christians Supporting Kim Davis During Live TV: ‘Haters Are Going to Hate’
(CN) — During live coverage of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ release from prison, Fox News’ Shepard Smith unexpectedly started speaking over the press conference, calling it a “religious play” and chastising Davis and those who supported her decision to refuse to issue “gay marriage” licenses.
Smith, who has had his own run-ins with the law, has had his share of random on-air outbursts, this one occurring during Tuesday’s live news broadcast.
Judge Orders Kim Davis Released, Demands She Not Stop Deputies from Issuing ‘Gay Marriage’ Licenses
(CN) — The judge that ordered Kim Davis to be placed behind bars nearly one week ago has now ordered her release, but simultaneously demanded that she not stop any of her deputy clerks from issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s order came just hours before a rally was set to begin outside of Carter County Detention Center, where Davis had been held for the past six days.
Firebomb Thrown at New York Church
(CN) — Police in New York are investigating after a firebomb was thrown inside of a door at a non-denominational church on Saturday.
The incident occurred early Saturday morning at approximately 5:30 a.m. as a yet unidentified suspect threw a Molotov cocktail through a glass door at the Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville. The explosive then started a fire in the vestibule, which set off the sprinkler system and flooded the entryway.
Other Top News Stories of Interest:
- Pastor: Kim Davis Has Duty to Continue to Defy Federal Court as ‘Lesser Magistrate’ to Uphold God’s Law
- Congress Discusses Planned Parenthood Baby Whose Face Was Cut Open to Take Out Brain
- Church-State Separation Group Demands School Remove God from Government Class
- Oregon Judge Who Refuses to Officiate Same-Sex ‘Weddings’ Under Investigation
Ever since Hegel or maybe Plato, statists have been telling a story about government in which government itself is the hero in an epic struggle. —Jonah Goldberg
John Lanagan has written a second piece on the hit film War Room. In his first piece he informed us that the film’s star, Priscilla Shirer, is into highly unorthodox teaching, which the three Kendrick brothers were unaware of or they wouldn’t have chose her to star in the movie. Now we learn that writer/producer/director/actor […]
In the 19th century Karl Marx (1818–83) diagnosed our most basic problem in material terms. He prescribed a future (eschatological) solution that was entirely material. He himself said that he had turned G. W. F. Hegel’s (1770–1831) spiritual view of history and the future “upside down” by materializing it. He replaced Hegel’s “spiritual” dialectic (P […]
Armed Military, Police Group Offers Kim Davis Protection from Further “Unlawful Arrest”
According to Christian News Network:
An armed group of current former military and police officials offered protection from further arrest to Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis from earlier this week, but was declined by her legal counsel.
Oath Keepers, whose motto is “Not On Our Watch,” is a coalition founded to provide education about, and defense of, the U.S. Constitution. The group issued a statement on Wednesday, outlining that it had offered protection for the now-freed clerk when she returns to her job on Monday.
Whoever has God for his friend will find Satan to be his enemy. He receives the name of Satan, first, because he is the adversary of God himself; and next, because he is the adversary of those whom God honors with his friendship, who love God, who rank on the side of God, who bear […]
“You can accept both evolution and God. They’re not incompatible.”
God made Adam in His image. Neither God nor Adam was an ape. Jesus said, “In the beginning God made them “male and female.” He didn’t make them as primordial soup.
“Instead of dying, after 18 hours of being burned in my mother’s womb, I was delivered alive in an abortion clinic in Los Angeles on April the 6th, 1977. My medical records state: “Born alive during saline abortion” at 6 am.”
Gianna Jessen survived a saline abortion 38 years ago. She is a living miracle and a pro life advocate. She asked a House Judiciary Committee a powerful question. “If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were mine?”Listen to her powerful story here. Life matters.
The post Gianna Jessen Asks Congress: “If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were mine?” appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.
Articles of the Week
Make Time for Books. You’ll Feel Less Busy. Hugh McGuire. You probably don’t believe McGuire. You probably think you simply don’t have time for books. To put it bluntly, you’re wrong. Books are the perfect antidote for the poison of digital stress. McGuire’s got neuroscience to prove it. Perhaps even better, he’s got three rules to help you get back into reading.
When Does Your Religion Excuse You from Doing Your Job? Eugene Volokh. This week’s news welcomes previously unknown Kim Davis to the bright lights of fame—or, more precisely, notoriety. Davis refused to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision (legalizing same-sex marriage), which led to a brief stay at the cozy Carter County Detention Center. Davis’ situation is actually a bit more complex than it initially seems. But all of this raises the bigger question: when is it appropriate to refuse to do your job on religious grounds? Volokh leads the way.
Responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, Mitch M. Many people have been asking how the American church can respond to the increasingly tragic refugee crisis in Syria. It’s not an easy situation, but there are several action steps that we can take. Mitch offers three big ones.
The Power of Pro-Life Women, Katelyn Beaty. The refrain is consistent, and has grown louder in recent days: if you care about women, you will support their right to choose an abortion. But as Beaty points out, this is a false dichotomy. She joins the ranks of many women around the country who are appalled at the idea that abortion is fundamental to women’s power.
11 Easy Steps to Repenting on the Internet, Barnabas Piper. There’s some sting in this one! It’s sad that we all know of a Christian leader who has crossed a line he shouldn’t have—an affair, financial hijinks, or some other shameful misconduct. Contrary to how social media might make it seem, the internet hasn’t created more of these failures. But it has changed the way that repentance happens. And not for the better.
On The Lighter Side
The First Time The New York Times Covered 19 Famous Things, Christine Haughney, Mental Floss. “The big change in Fred Trump’s operations in recent years is the advent of his son, Donald.” … “When the new building of The New York Times shall be completed, why would it not be fitting that the space about the edifice be called ‘Times Triangle’ or ‘Times Square,’ though perhaps it may not be a square?’” … “The Japanese characters pronounced ‘Nintendo’ are harder to translate. They constitute a fanciful expression having no precise dictionary meaning either in Japanese or English.” Yes, these are real. And 16 other goodies in here.
Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
Stephen Colbert is the new host of Late Night succeeding David Letterman. He is known as the host of The Colbert Report which ran from 2005-2014 for a total of 1,447 episodes. He also played a fictional satirist on The Daily Show, Comedy Central’s late-night talk show and satire, which called itself a fake news program.
He asks tough questions. He’s a smart comedian and a compassionate interviewer who is committed to his faith. He is already being called the new Charlie Rose.
He shared his faith in a recent interview. “Hopefully I can use my mind to make my jokes and not deny my love for God,” Colbert said.
Watch this clip of an interview with Father Thomas Rosica.
The post Stephen Colbert: Faith and Logic Complement Each Other appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
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00:06:25 Jonathan Cahn Moves the Shemitah Goal Post
00:13:25 Jim Bakker Expects a September to Remember
00:38:06 William Tapley Weighs in on CERN and Tim Tebow
00:53:03 Patricia King Ministers “In the Spirit”
01:04:24 Good Sermon by Gervase Charmley – God Against the gods
When we discuss God’s glory there are basically two ways we can speak. First, God’s essential glory: the sum of his attributes makes him the “God of glory” (Acts 7:2). His glory is the “sparkling of the deity.” God’s life lies in his glory, and his glory cannot increase or decrease, for his glory is infinite, unchangeable, eternal, and so on. This glory belongs to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because each person shares in the divine essence. Second, there is a glory which is ascribed to God in terms of what his creatures aim to bring to him (1 Chronicles 16:29). This latter glory has in view our praise, worship, obedience, and delight as we keep the name of the Lord holy in all that we do (Matthew 6:9).
In terms of God’s essential being, we must acknowledge that, even apart from sin, human beings cannot behold the glory of God and live. The triune God’s infinite glory is too high, illustrious, and marvellous for us. It is utterly beyond our powers, and even a small drop of his glory, so to speak, would utterly consume us. With the entrance of sin into the world, this reality is even more pronounced (see Exodus 33:20).
Consequently, we behold the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6), not only in this life, but also in the life to come! Christ has three distinct glories, all of which we must know if we wish to understand the Christian faith. Christ, because he is God, has an essential glory. But he also has two other glories that are vital for us to know and understand.
Personal Glory: The Glory of the God-man
Jesus has a peculiar glory that is unique to him, and him alone. Even the Father and the Spirit do not possess this specific glory, for they are not fully God and fully man, but simply fully God. Christ is the God-man, what theologians call a “complex person.” Thus he has a distinct glory, also called a “personal glory” by theologians.
The union of the Son to human nature is, according to the Puritan theologian, Thomas Goodwin, “the highest manifestation of the Godhead that could have been communicated to creatures.”
As a result, “more of God’s glory shall instantly shine forth in . . . the man, Christ Jesus, having the God-head dwelling in him personally, than by God’s making millions of worlds . . . furnished with glories.” That is to say, Christ makes the glory of God not only possible, but also visible. John Arrowsmith, a famous theologian during the Puritan era, makes the point that just as God is invisible, his glory would be “too dazzling for our weak eyes.” As we cannot behold the sun in its sphere, we can nevertheless behold the sun in a basin of water. Christ is the “basin” that enables us to behold God’s glory.
If we cannot behold the attributes of God directly, how are we to understand a passage such as Isaiah 6? Did Isaiah not see Yahweh? Did Isaiah not gaze upon the holiness (“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”) of Yahweh? Isaiah did not in fact see God directly (and live), but instead Isaiah saw Christ. And this is precisely how the apostle John interprets Isaiah’s experience. After quoting words from Isaiah 6 (see John 12:40), John writes: “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him” (John 12:41; see also Acts 7:55–56).
Isaiah saw God’s glory. But he saw God’s glory in the person of Christ, not God’s glory as God sees and knows his own glory. Isaiah saw what was fitting for him as a sinner (see Isaiah 6:5). As sinners, we should be thankful that we see God’s glory in the person of his Son, because that glory, when beheld by faith, saves us rather than consumes us.
Mediatorial Glory: The Glory of His Bride
Christ also has another glory besides his personal glory: a mediatorial glory. This glory is “acquired, purchased, and merited” by his work (in obedience to the Father) on behalf of sinners (Goodwin).
We may call this a “superadded glory.” This glory involves Christ’s people because they are, after all, his bride. And the bride of Christ is, naturally, his glory, just as a woman is the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7). We, who are his body, are “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).
As the bride of Christ receives the blessings of his work on their behalf, Christ is thereby glorified. He sees the fruit of his labor. The more blessings Christ pours out from heaven as the resurrected king of glory, the more he is glorified. In fact, the more love Christ shows to the church, the more love he shows to himself. For the man who loves his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:28).
Thus in his bride Christ is glorified:
As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. (2 Corinthians 8:23)
Jesus prayed, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:10)
Since God’s great end is the glory of his Son (Colossians 1:16), Christ must necessarily be glorified in those for whom he died. Christ makes the church pure, beautiful, and holy, which means that the “Lord Christ is, and will be, glorious unto all eternity” (Owen).
If Pastor John Piper has coined the phrase, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” then I would like to (by way of complement) coin the phrase, “God is most satisfied in himself when Christ is most glorified in us.” In other words, in God’s purposes for his Son, the world, and his people, he is “most satisfied” when his Son is glorified by those for whom he gave to the Son.
Each of the glories described above have relevance to us.
First, in terms of his divine glory, we are confronted with the fact that God is too great for us. His majesty, holiness, power, and knowledge are utterly beyond our comprehension. Far from causing despair, this truth should comfort us. We do not want a god we can manage; we need to be told time and time again that God is utterly beyond our ability to comprehend.
Second, because this reality is true, and because God desires to have communion with his creatures, he condescends in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Christ’s personal glory is the primary glory by which we come to know, love, and enjoy God. The only way we can have any access to God, any sight of God, any knowledge of God, any fruition of God, is in and through the God-man, Jesus Christ. Christ makes theology possible; he makes worship possible; he makes communion with God possible; and he makes heaven on earth possible. Apart from Christ there is no possibility of any divine-human relationship.
Third, the prospect of the beatific vision, whereby we shall be like him because we shall see him (face-to-face) as he is (1 John 3:2), stirs our faith, hope, and love in this life. And faith, hope, and love enable us to bring glory to Christ on earth as his bride. Our desire to be holy and to refrain from sin has, as its primary goal, not our personal happiness, however important that may be, but the glory of Christ. Our chief business on earth is to glorify the glorious one, who is glorious, glorious, glorious.
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Yesterday the ninth video exposé on Planned Parenthood from The Center for Medical Progress was released. You can watch it and read more on Justin Taylor’s blog.
As the video exposés about Planned Parenthood continue, those with children may be wondering how they can talk to them in age-appropriate ways about the value of life and the reality of abortion.
Someone recently wrote our ministry to ask:
I have four children, ages eight to almost two. At what age is it appropriate to talk to my young children about what’s going on at Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics? Do you have any tips on how to talk to them about this issue?
EPM staff member Karen Coleman provided this great answer:
In Appendix 2 of Why ProLife? Randy gives a list of “Biblical Passages Relevant to Life Issues.” Those would be good passages to talk to your children about, to help them see God’s heart on the issue in a very general but biblical way.
No one is born pro-abortion, and you can help them grow up knowing how much God is pro-life in every sense of the word. From that list, I would concentrate on the verses in section 5, “God has a special love for children.”
Since the oldest is only eight, you would not want to go into any great detail. You could say, “There are people who don’t know God and don’t know how much He loves all children. We need to pray for them to come to know Jesus so that they understand His love for even little babies—even babies who aren’t born yet.”
Your older children may remember when your wife was pregnant with the younger ones. You could use that as a general example, reminding them of the time before your youngest was born. Ask them if they think God loved that child when he or she was in your wife’s womb. They will instinctively know He did! If you want to add more information, you can have slightly different conversations with each of them, since the 8-year-old can understand much more than the littler ones.
I think you would want to stick to very general terms. They are too young to understand the videos, and might find them quite upsetting. There are many adults who are traumatized by seeing these videos, and you certainly don’t want to go there with your precious children. At their ages, I think they might even be upset by the concept of abortion as you would try to explain it. Many children would not be ready to comprehend more of the details of this issue until they hit junior high.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve watched one family after another melt down under revelations of a spouse exposed by the hack of the adultery website Ashley Madison. I would love to prognosticate that the Ashley Madison scandal is the jolt we needed to set some things aright, but I’m afraid Ashley Madison is just the beginning.
In order to understand what’s next, we must understand why Ashley Madison “worked.” Why would people sign up for a service promising to match them with others looking for affairs? Ashley Madison succeeded in drawing in 32 million users because it joined original sin to modern technology.
Ashley Madison utilized digital technology to promise several things that were out of reach for would-be adulterers. The first was opportunity. Many of the users on this site were not the sorts of people who would seek out singles’ bars or airport lounges for available sexual partners. They were hemmed in, many of them, not by moral convictions, but by the inability to know where to start.
Ashley Madison promised to match desire to opportunity. In that sense, Ashley Madison was an expression of our time’s consumer culture. We are promised a seemingly endless set of options for our appetites. Why should I be limited to vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream? If I want licorice gelato or avocado sorbet or salted-caramel-ginger-snap-crunch frozen custard, the market is willing to provide it. Digital technology has made the same cornucopia available for the darker appetites of the flesh as well.
Even more importantly, Ashley Madison provided this service with the illusion of anonymity. Even the advertising logo featured a woman making a “hush” sign over her mouth. The promise was that no one would ever find out about this affair. This promise of cover drew out those who wanted adultery but who didn’t want to be seen as adulterers. In some cases, these were figures who styled themselves as “culture warriors” against decadent sexual permissiveness. They wanted to still be culture warriors, and to be as nasty as they wanted to be, all at the same time. Ashley Madison promised them the cover of secrecy.
Many people have written about determining the will of God, and my goal here is not to simply add to those volumes. Instead, here are some simple steps that I hope will counter some wrong understandings and provide you some basic instruction.
- Recognize that knowing the will of God really isn’t that complicated. To put it simply, the Bible already tells us much about how we’re to live. We’re to love God will all our being, love our neighbors as ourselves, and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 22:34-40, 28:18-20). If we get these things right, we won’t wrestle as much with the unknown details.
- Read the Bible and pray consistently. I know that sounds like a Sunday school answer, but Sunday school answers aren’t always so bad. Too many people turn to the Bible and prayer only when they suddenly need to know God’s will. Doing that is like trying to clearly hear and understand the voice of one with whom you haven’t had a conversation in a long time. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.
- Walk in holiness; make righteous choices. This point’s really quite simple. We’re called to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). If we aren’t being faithful to what is clearly revealed in scripture, why should God trust us with information about the unknown? Why should He think we will follow Him if He does show us His will?
- Be faithfully involved in a local church. God designed us to be in relationship with other people (Gen. 2:18). He creates His local church in such a way that all of us need each other (1 Cor. 12:12-31). We learn from each other. We help each other. We correct and encourage each other. To try to determine God’s will as a loner is a mistake.
- Look at needs around you. Sometimes, trying to determine God’s will for our life turns us inward. All we think about is, “God, what do you want for me?” The question is not entirely a bad one, but it’s a dangerous one. We usually don’t need any more inclination toward ourselves. Instead, take a look around at your community. See a non-believing world of billions of people who have no access to the gospel. Then ask, “God, what would you have me do to help spread your message and your glory to my neighbors and the nations?”
- In the context of local church fellowship, know your giftedness. God has given all of us spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10). He’s also sovereign over our struggles, experiences, pain, and rejoicing; thus, He can use our history and our present to glorify Himself. Work with your church leaders to think about and understand all that God has created in you – and then pray, “Lord, use me however You wish.”
- Take steps in the right direction. Kevin DeYoung once made this point this way, “Just do something!” We can spend months and years stymied while we seek certainty in God’s will, or we can do today something we know any Christian is supposed to do today. If we’re faithful over the known things today, we might just discover that the unknown things take care of themselves.
What would you add to this list?
From Dane Ortlund’s book Defiant Grace:
To take up the cross is to take up joy—painful joy, but real joy. For to take up the cross is to walk with the one who in great love bore the ultimate cross in our place. Aim at joy, and you will miss it. Aim at Christ, and his cross-bearing call, and you will find it.
Contrary as it is to all presuppositions, the way to save our life is to lose it. Death was the way to life for Jesus. Death is the way to life for Jesus’ disciples. “Die before you die. There is no chance after,” remarks a character in C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces.
If we tunnel in to the very heart of Christian discipleship as articulated by Mark, we find, echoing the mission of Jesus himself, this startling principle: loss is gain. Death is life. Yielding all guarantees receiving all. Self-denial for the sake of the gospel is the secret to saving our life. This was the way the upside-down mission of Jesus worked out, and it is the path of discipleship for his people. Glad abandon is our only sanity.
Contrary to what all our instincts of self-preservation whisper to us every day, abandonment to Jesus is the safest investment we can make. Our only security is renunciation of all that this world holds secure.
—Dane Ortlund, Defiant Grace: The Surprising Message and Mission of Jesus (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: EP Books, 2011), 61.
Many skeptics approach “the evidence” for Christianity with a closed mind. Hobbled by a number of presuppositions, they typically end up where they begin: convinced that God simply would not have made himself so difficult to detect. Many will back up their position with a challenge – because Christian claims are so “extraordinary,” they say, only “extraordinary evidence” will be sufficient to persuade them. Upon reflection, however, it should be soon apparent that this is a rather odd – and self-defeating – way to go about the task of acquiring knowledge. Odd because it demonstrates a misunderstanding about the way evidence works. Self-defeating because reviewing evidence is supposed to be done so that one can arrive at “the truth” about what occurred, and when one option – a creator God – is set “off limits” at the beginning, there is only one result that can be reached. This may give the atheist comfort – his views remain unchallenged – but it is difficult to describe this as a meaningful search for the truth.
Consider: “evidence” can mean a variety of things, but as it relates to historical events – which, after all, is the basis of Christian belief – it refers to the existence of certain facts which directly or indirectly tend to prove that the event in question occurred. Whether it’s Jesus life – was he real or fictitious? – his death – did it occur on the cross?- and, most significantly, his bodily resurrection from the dead, the process of discernment requires a consideration of all of the evidence to determine whether one can conclude with confidence that the event did in fact occur. Consequently, in assessing the weight and persuasiveness of the evidence, it may appear that certain pieces of evidence line up as probative or not probative, relevant or irrelevant, weighty or weak. But refusing to consider evidence unless it first meets the standard of “extraordinary” reflects a bias against ever reaching a conclusion. Far from being a rational position, it is the abandonment of reason, for reason does not impose upon itself such artificial restrictions. This demand for “extraordinary” evidence is, upon reflection, also rather ironic. Christianity is in fact based on “extraordinary” evidence. It is “out of the ordinary” and “exceptional” and “not commonplace” that
- 66 books written over dozens of centuries by a variety of unrelated authors could be assembled into a coherent whole, one that tells an overriding message of man, his problem, and the solution God set in motion. The books of the Old Testament presage and predict Christ, and the books of the New Testament demonstrate the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies;
- the concerns and beliefs of a culture separated from us by thousands of years could still resonate as relevant today, and join via a common system of belief cultures from all across the globe and spanning every conceivable age since Christ walked the earth;
- the early followers could be so convinced of the truth of what occurred that they were willing to face death rather than deny what they would have known to be false, if indeed they were fabricating a story;
- a variety of predictions – hundreds by some counts – could find fulfillment in one historical person;
- modern archeology repeatedly confirms so much of what is written in the texts;
- items of scientific interest relating to astronomy and physics (for examples, check out the work of the scholars over at http://www.reasons.org) appear to be embedded in books such as Job;
- the claims of multiple miracles that were witnessed by numerous people;
- and probably most significantly, a man who preached a radical message of universal brotherhood to a subjugated people who were expecting and hoping for a conquering king could change a world and still be regarded – and embraced – as relevant today.
This is just a partial list. Indeed, entire books and ministries have been devoted to making this case. And while the skeptic can challenge various pieces of evidence, it is difficult to gainsay both the amount and the quality of the evidence upon which Christians base their faith.
This is not to say that Christianity is not about faith – it certainly is. As Paul says in Hebrews, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the convictions of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1-2) No one can see heaven or preview what eternity with God will entail. Faith provides the assurance that what Jesus promised is true; we can rest confidently in the knowledge that things not seen will be as he promised. But we don’t have “blind faith” that he once lived, or that he has the authority to carry out what he promised. That knowledge is based on the evidence provided by those early witnesses. These men and women lived in extraordinary times and witnessed extraordinary things; sadly, many suffered extraordinarily for their convictions. But what they left to posterity, the evidence of what they saw and heard and experienced – whether or not it rises to the level of “extraordinary” – was certainly sufficient. And it remains so today.
Posted by Al Serrato
We are continuing our series on authority and the Christian life on the White Horse Inn. This week we will be discussing “Generation Me.” How does the millennial generation view itself? What are its characteristics? Who are the millennials? How is their basic outlook on life different from preceding generations? Why does it matter?
According to certain studies, the period in which you were born has more influence on your personality than the parents who raised you. What are the implications of this? How do generational differences relate to the concept of personal identity? Michael Horton discusses these issues and more with Jean Twenge, professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and author of Generation Me. Join us this week on another edition of the White Horse Inn.
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” (Psalm 40:16)
Great is an important word. We use it to talk about something of unusually large size: A great earthquake shook the city. Or a large number: A great crowd filled the stadium. Or unusual power or intensity: She has experienced great pain. Or something that is especially good or wonderful: He is a great player. Or something in an extreme degree: For a long time, we have been great friends.
Not only is the word great flexible — used in five different ways above, to talk about size, number, intensity, goodness, and degree — but it’s also a powerful word. Or at least it used to be. It’s become an easy word to overuse. When day after day is great, and meal after meal is great, and game after game is great, we begin to lose the punch of the word to talk about our wedding day, or an unusually lavish feast, or the championship game that went into overtime.
Reclaim the Word Great
And what about God? The Bible tells us again and again, especially in the Psalms, that our God is great. If we use the word great for the normal and everyday, what language will we have when we need to describe the day or the meal or the game that really is a cut above the typical — or most importantly, the God who really is infinite above all else?
One wonderful thing about this song is that it helps us reclaim the word great. Using simple, but profound language, “How Great Is Our God” turns our attention to the greatness of God. It sets God before us as our standard of true greatness. Perhaps when God increasingly becomes our standard of what is great, then we’ll increasingly become more careful with how easily we dish out the word for days and meals and games.
And just as the word great is flexible and can refer to size, number, intensity, goodness, and degree, so this song gives us several glimpses into the greatness of God.
Four Glimpses into His Greatness
First is the greatness of his majesty and kingly glory. His is the splendor of a king — not just the king of a single tribe or nation, but the king of all the earth. Let all the earth rejoice. He is sovereign over all the nations, arrayed in unparalleled regal glory. He is great in royal majesty.
Second is the greatness of his holiness. As 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” He is not just great in his majesty, but in his holiness. He is not just in charge and exalted, but he has perfect integrity — he is the standard of truth and character and moral uprightness. When he speaks, the darkness flees. He is great in his holiness.
Third is the greatness of his eternality. He never had a beginning, and he will never have an end. He is Alpha and Omega, he is the beginning and the end — nothing came before him and nothing will come after him. But not only does he stand unmoved from age to age, but “time is in his hands.” Not only is he before and after time, but he controls time, every century and year and hour and minute and second-tick — from him and through him and for him (Romans 11:36). He is great in relation to time.
Finally is the greatness of his mercy. He is not only One, but Three. And not only Father, but Son and Spirit. And these three persons of the Godhead work ever in happy tandem, not simply with the greatness of a Lion, but the greatness of a Lamb. And in his greatness as both Lion and Lamb, we find what it is that truly makes him great.
As great as he is in his majesty and holiness and eternality, it is the greatness of his mercy that truly leaves us in awe, because it his mercy in his Son that brings us sinners into the eternal joy of relationship with him. How great is our God!
Desiring God partnered with Shane & Shane’s The Worship Initiative to write short meditations for more than one hundred popular worship songs and hymns. This meditation accompanies the song “How Great Is Our God” on The Worship Initiative, Volume 2. More from this series below.
“There is a world of difference between pundits and prophets.” – Mark Sayers*
Our culture disciples its innocents in disillusionment. “Always ask ‘why?’” we tell our children. We celebrate an ethos of critique, where we are encouraged to put everything on trial. We always stand opposed. We actually celebrate this punk rock “Fight against the man!” attitude. But the funny thing about the “oppositional posture,” as Sayers calls it, is that this stance requires that which it demonizes to exist. For if you are always critical, then you need something to critique. And when your championed cause succeeds, when you have halted every initiative or defeated all your enemies, you are left… alone.
The Bible calls this bitterness. Bitterness is a profoundly nervous self-consciousness. It needs to put others down, bitterness needs others to look away. It is a constant diverting of attention away from oneself so nobody will observe fault within. Bitterness never invites critique… it only gives it. It always points to darkness in the room, but never shines the light on itself.
Are you bitter? Do you catch yourself only giving critique and never giving compliments? Do you find yourself reacting strongly to confrontation but all too willing to enact it yourself? Do you need to insert yourself into every conversation with a “truth-telling” bomb?
Friend, bitterness leaves you alone.
Was not the apostle loving when he pleaded with the Ephesians to purge their soul of this cancer (Eph 4:31-32)? The beautiful thing about the cross is that it is the final condemnation from a God with no darkness at all. Bitterness is not something to celebrate, but we can celebrate that the perfect critique of the world was made at the cross. And because, by faith, we stand justified, we need no longer condemn.
Will you leave your bitterness in his nail-pierced palms? I pray so.
*Mark Sayers, Facing Leviathan (Chicago, Moody Publishers; 2014) 157.
This post was originally posted on Thinkcredo.org.
READING: Ezekiel 46-48
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: “Yahweh is There.” Those are the last English words of the book of Ezekiel. God would bring destruction on the city of Jerusalem as a means of judgment, but He would eventually return in His glory to the city. All of this we’ve seen in previous devotions.
Now, in Ezekiel’s vision, God restored the city, re-established His kingdom, and promised His presence. Indeed, the new city was named “Yahweh is There.”
Ezek. 48:35 The perimeter of the city will be six miles, and the name of the city from that day on will be: Yahweh Is There.
I am reminded today of the task given to Ezekiel. For more than 20 years he announced God’s Word. He served during the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people into Babylon. Much of his job was to announce judgment, but also to show that God was not judging Israel simply for the sake of judging; He was judging to bring them back to Him and to remind them that He was Yahweh.
Ezekiel’s job surely was not easy, but this he would know: he was on the winning side. God would, in fact, keep His Word to restore His people. He who had once departed the city would not only return, but the city would bear His name. He really would be their God and dwell among His people.
Those same truths give me confidence in doing ministry today. No matter how difficult ministry might be — no matter how hard it is to speak God’s truth sometimes — no matter how much it hurts to know people will pay the price of their sin — no matter how agonizing it is to watch people turn to false gods — this I know: God will show His glory in the end. We are on the winning side. Yahweh is here.
PRAYER: “Lord, thank You for dwelling among us. You are here. Thank you.”
READING: Joel 1-3
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: The book of Joel is a short book that calls God’s people to repentance in preparation for the “Day of the Lord,” a day of coming judgment. I have read this book many times before, but frankly, I somehow read over these significant words (particularly, the heart and clothing comparison):
Joel 2:12-13a Even now—this is the Lord’s declaration—turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God.
To paraphrase Joel’s words, the outward expression of repentance — tearing one’s clothing, a customary sign of grief and repentance in the ancient world — does not matter if one’s heart is not repentant. Other writers of the Scriptures make the same point (e.g., Psalm 51:17, Amos 5:21–24; Mic 6:6–8), but this text in Joel seems so simply and clearly stated that one should not miss it; hence, my personal distress at not catching it before this reading.
My greater concern, though, is whether I’ve always lived by this word. I know I have at times grieved my sin without stopping my sin. I have wept over wrong while suspecting that I’d be praying the same prayer again at some point. Given that admission, I am incredibly grateful for the next words in Joel’s writing:
Joel 2:13b For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.
Indeed, God’s graciousness makes me genuinely want to make sure my repentance is real and lasting. I don’t want to go through the motions. Would you pray with me that all of us would truly repent when needed?
PRAYER: “God, You are gracious. Thank You for Your compassion and patience. In light of Your faithful love, bring me to real repentance over any sin in my life today. Especially as I stand before God’s people this day, cleanse my heart.”
Wandering aimlessly through life as an individual or as an organization is no way to reach a destination. We need goals, and Art shares five reasons why.
We’ve talked a good bit about pastoral succession here at ThomRainer.com, and Andy shares why it is something pastors should be concerned about as they transition away from a church.
Sometimes the reason you get a poor group of candidates applying for a job is because the job description is not written well. Nicole shares five tips for writing better better job descriptions as well as news of an upcoming webinar on the subject.
This is a great list of reminders on how to better deal with volunteers as a ministry leader.
I’ve really enjoyed Periscope over the past few months. I’m also planning on expanding my use of it in the future. For now, here are five tips for Periscope use in the church.
I appreciate JD’s honesty and candor in this article. We must always remember that Kingdom growth is more important than local church growth.
Kindle deals for Christian readers
Zondervan’s Counterpoints sale comes to an end tomorrow (September 13th). Get these titles for $4.99 each:
- Biblical Inerrancy
- The Historical Adam
- Creation and Evolution
- Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?
- Remarriage After Divorce
- Evaluating The Church Growth Movement
- Salvation in a Pluralistic World
- Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism
- Who Runs the Church: Four Views on Church Government
- Women in Ministry
- The Lord’s Supper
- Christian Spirituality
- Divine Providence
- Exploring the Worship Spectrum
- The New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- The Millennium and Beyond
- Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology
- Law and Gospel
- The Book of Revelation
- The Apostle Paul
- The Canaanite Genocide
- The Spectrum of Evangelicalism
- The Doctrine of the Trinity
- The Role of Works at the Final Judgement
- Genesis: Fact, Fiction, or Neither?
- Salvation in a Pluralistic World
Also on sale:
- The Holy Spirit by Kevin DeYoung—Free
- What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung—$5.99
- The First Chapters of Everything by Alasdair Paine—$2.99
- Big God by Orlando Saer—$2.99
Lore Ferguson Wilbert:
One thing I am consistently surprised about, though, is the pervasiveness of modern psychology in the midst of conflict between Christians. Phrases like, “You’ve broken my trust in you/him/her/it,” “I was wrong, but…,” and “You shouldn’t have waited until I’d sinned five times in this way before coming to me.” It makes me wonder, truly, how broken is our theology if these are the words coming out of our mouths?
The horrors of September 11, 2001 are unmatched in my lifetime—it is Millennials’ Pearl Harbor. When the planes crashed and the towers fell, they triggered an earthquake whose aftershocks have not yet ceased. I am so thankful for our military and our local and national law enforcement agencies that have been on the front lines of both the War on Terror abroad and our war on terror here at home. The work of those brave men and women deserves our utmost admiration.
Tim Challies, sharing from J.I. Packer’s Knowing God:
Crucifixes have long been a fixture in Roman Catholic worship. But in the past few years I have begun to see more and more Protestants wearing them as well, exchanging their empty cross for one that contains an image of the suffering Savior. J.I. Packer once addressed the issue of the crucifix, and addressed it well.
I corresponded with Timothy Paul Jones, professor of Christian family ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, about his new book (and accompanying group study DVD) How We Got the Bible. With guides for both leaders and participants, six 30-minute DVD sessions, a reference handbook, and more, the entire kit is a useful resource for parents, church leaders, and educators.
I’ve been blessed lately with the opportunity to preach a bit more. I really enjoy preaching, and the homiletics training I received at Covenant Seminary during my M.Div. was excellent. But the more I learn about preaching, the more I feel like I’m just beginning to learn what it even means to preach. Preaching to me is like a vast mountain, the top of which is hidden by clouds and cannot be seen, and the higher I climb, the more it stretches up still higher and higher above me.
Welcome to the weekend! And thanks for taking a little bit of it to read A La Carte. I post this just before heading to my church’s morning of prayer, an event I have been looking forward to all week long. Praying and praying together—these are precious gifts.
I suppose it would be easy enough to overthink it, but I do appreciate this guidance on giving your pastor feedback on his sermon. Sometimes words that seem helpful actually aren’t.
“On the night of Oct. 30, 2001, President George W. Bush stepped onto the mound at Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the World Series, just six weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” This excellent little video recounts the event and its importance. (Note: There is one beeped-out swear word.)
“A new study published Sept. 8 found that more infants born before 28 weeks gestation are surviving without disease or other complications compared to 20 years ago. The findings cast further doubt on the adequacy of the viability standard for protecting the unborn.”
Tomorrow in 1541. John Calvin returns to Geneva, having been banished by Geneva’s City Council. After the 3 year separation, Calvin picked up preaching the very next verse from where he left off. *
“Lord’s Day worship isn’t a burden to endure, but a joyful offering from God to receive.” I enjoyed this refresher on the joy of the Lord’s Day.
The Atlantic has quite an interesting article on heaven tourism and 90 Minutes in Heaven. “The movie spends a good number of minutes imagining scenes from the beyond, filled with trippy pastels and all the smiling white people you’ll supposedly see in heaven. According to Polish, these images are at least somewhat based on those described in the Christian scriptures, but they’re light on concrete details—Jesus, for example, is nowhere to be found.”
Why is it so difficult to catch your own typos? According to this Wired article, it’s all your brain’s fault.
Christian Headlines Daily – Saturday, September 12, 2015
People from all Faiths Offer up Prayers in 9/11 Remembrance
Christian Aid Mission: Refugee Crisis is Opportunity to Share Christ’s Love
Billy Graham Assures Seniors it is OK if They Cannot be Physically Present in Church
New TV Series to Help Christians Back up Pro-life Position
Strange Alliance in Northern Ireland: Evangelicals and LGBT Activists Unite Against Same-sex Marriage Referendum
Tebow Returns to ESPN as Analyst after Being Cut by Eagles
Phil Robertson: Against the Iran Nuclear Deal and for Israel
Donald Trump Questions Ben Carson’s Faith, Downplays Accomplishments as Neurosurgeon
Interview: Stephen Colbert Discusses His Faith, the Pope, Islam, and More
Ben Carson Names Favorite Bible Verses
Kim Davis May be out of Jail, but Conscience Conflicts Remain
Living and Dying–for Others
14 Years after 9/11: Four Lessons
The Ashley Madison Affair: God’s Grace for Fallen Pastors
Are You Living Fully in the Spirit?
Our Time is Short
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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