Susan McGeown, Author

Books With Heart And Soul

Sue's Blog

I try my best to blog about information that will be beneficial and worth your time to read. 

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  • On Women

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Faith's Attitude At Christmas

Posted by Susan McGeown on December 8, 2013 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Faith's Attitude At Christmas

Jesus

 Mary:  BELIEVING

“Mary believed ...” 

Luke 1:45

 

Joseph:  OBEYING

Joseph “did what he was

commanded.” Matt. 2:24

 

The Shepherds:  TELLING

“The shepherds told everyone ...”  Luke 2:17

 

The Wise Men:  SEEKING & GIVING

The Wise Men “came to worship…gave…joyfully…”Matt. 2:2, 10-11


Simeon:  AFFIRMING

“I have seen the Savior.” 

Luke 2:30

 

Anna:  PRAISING & SHARING

Anna “praised God and talked

about Jesus to everyone.”  Luke 2:38


Picture Credits:

Mary:  BE UNTO ME by Liz Lemon Swindle http://www.reparteegallery.com/p-10899-liz-lemon-swindle-be-it-unto-me.aspx

 Joseph:  http://totustuusfamily.blogspot.com/2012/03/he-held-jesus-in-his-arms-st-joseph.html

 Shepherds:  adorationof the shepherds Giorgione

 Wisemen:  http://www.jesus-story.net/magi.htm

Simeon:  SIMEON'S MOMENT by Ron DiCianni http://www.rondicianni.com/ ;

Anna: Anna at the Temple with Jesus, Jerry Bacik,

 



God's Mighty Three

Posted by Susan McGeown on October 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

God’s Mighty Three: Deborah, Barak, & Jael[1]

For a printable copy of this blog entry click here.

Key Questions To Think About:

  • Whose opinion really counts?
  • Who is your authority in the way you lead your life?

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

Judges 4:1 After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight.2 So the Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. 3 Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help.  

Hazor

  • Had a big reason to hate Israel.  Read Joshua11:10-13 to see why.
  • “Jabin” was probably a dynastic name that many rulers had throughout Hazor’s history.

10 Joshua then turned back and captured Hazor and killed its king. (Hazor had at one time been the capital of all these kingdoms.) 11 The Israelites completely destroyed every living thing in the city, leaving no survivors. Not a single person was spared. And then Joshua burned the city.  12 Joshua slaughtered all the other kings and their people, completely destroying them, just as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded. 13 But the Israelites did not burn any of the towns built on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua burned.

Judges 4:4 Deborah,the wife of Lapidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. 5 She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment.

Deborah

  • She is the only woman of the Hebrew Bible who gained renown on her own merit, not becauseof her relationship to a man.
  • Through prayer and meditation she sought the will of God.  As a result, she was considered to “speak the word of God.”
  • Would judgeover Israel for 40 years.

Lapidoth

  • Husband or description of Deborah’s personality? “Lapidoth” can also be translated as “fiery” or “torch”.  Some scholars believe that this is not Deborah’s husband (there is no traditional “son of” which would be the equivalent of his last name) but rather should be translated as, “Deborah, a fiery woman”.  Lapidoth is not a traditional Hebrew name.  'Eshetlapidot' could be translated "wife of Lapidot," but it also means "woman of torches."[2]

 Women during this time:

  • Subservient to all males
  • Valued only by the sons they produced
  • Unable to be a witness in court

Prophet of God:

  • God’s spokesperson to the people
  • Never wrong with predictions or advice.  Deuteronomy 18:22  22 If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.
  • Deborah was not the first woman – Miriam, Moses’ sister was a prophet

Judge of God:

  • God’s authority on earth; leaders before the monarchy was put in place.
  • Deborah is the only female judge recorded in the Old Testament.

Key Questions To Think About:

  • What kind of person would Deborah have had to be?  Her husband Lapidoth?
  • What would have given Deborah her credibility as a prophet and as a judge?

Judges 4:6 One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you:Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. 7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”

8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”

9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.”


Barak

  • His name means “lightning”
  • Without the leadership of Joshua, who had replaced Moses, the twelve tribes that made up the nation of Israel was influenced by the pagan cultures that surrounded them.  They abandoned God and God allowed them to be subjugated as a result.
  • Commander of Israel’s “army” which had been ruthlessly oppressed for twenty years.

Key Questions To Think About:

  • Does this conversation change your impression of Deborah?
  • What is your first impression of Barak?  Explain.
  • Read Hebrews 11:1-2, 32-34 below to get a biblical perspective.

11 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 

Judges 4:9  So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and 10,000 warriors went up with him. Deborah also went with him.

Judges 4:11 Now Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ brother-in-law Hobab, had moved away from the other members of his tribe and pitched his tent by the oak of Zaanannim near Kedesh.

Moses’ Relationship to the Kenites:

  • Wife was Zipporah (Exodus 2:21)
  • Brother-in-lawas Hobab (Numbers 10:29)
  • Kenites were not Jewish, but had some history of being “friendly” with the Jews.

Key Questions To Think About:

  • We learn of Heber the Kenite but we don’t know for what purpose.  Whose side is he on?  Do you have any theories?

Judges 4:12 When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 he called for all 900 of his iron chariots and all of his warriors, and they marched from Harosheth-haggoyim to the Kishon River.

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his 10,000 warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle. 15 When Barak attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and warriors into a panic. Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot. 16 Then Barak chased the chariots and the enemy army all the way to Harosheth-haggoyim, killing all of Sisera’s warriors. Not a single one was left alive.

Read Deborah’s Song in Judges 5:4-5, 8b-9, 20-21 to get a clearer picture of what went on during the battle.

4 “Lord, when youset out from Seir and marched across the fields of Edom,

the earth trembled, and the cloudy skies poured down rain.

5 The mountains quaked in the presence of the Lord, the God of Mount Sinai—in the presence of the Lord, the God of Israel.

Yet not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!

9 My heart is with the commanders of Israel,with those who volunteered for war.

20 The stars fought from heaven.  The stars in their orbits fought against Sisera.

21 The Kishon River swept them away—that ancient torrent, the Kishon.

March on with courage, my soul!

Judges 4:17 Meanwhile,Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because Heber’s family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of Hazor. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.19 “Please give me some water,” he said. “I’m thirsty.” So she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again.

20 “Stand at the door of the tent,” hetold her. “If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no.”

21 But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.

22 When Barak came looking for Sisera,Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.

Key Questions To Think About:

  • Sisera ran the opposite way of his army.  What do you think that meant?
  • Why did Jael do what she did?
  • Was what Jael did murder or God’s will?

Read Deborah’s Song in Judges 5:24-27 to hear what Deborah and Barak thought of Jael’s actions.

 24 “Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.  May she be blessed above all women who live in tents. 25 Sisera asked for water, and she gave him milk.  In a bowl fit for nobles, she brought him yogurt. 26 Then with her left hand she reached for a tent peg,and with her right hand for the workman’s hammer.  She struck Sisera with the hammer, crushing his head.  With a shattering blow, she pierced his temples.  27 He sank, he fell, he lay still at her feet. And where he sank, there he died.

Judges 4:23 Soon that day Israel saw God defeat Jabin, the Canaanite king. 24 And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him.

Key Questions To Think About:

  • Were all of Deborah’s predictions proved true?
  • The hands of what woman claimed victory over Sisera?

 DEBORAH’S SONG[3]:  This is considered by many to be the oldest poem in the Bible.


 “Judges 5:1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

2 “Israel’s leaders took charge, and the people gladly followed.  Praise the Lord!

3 “Listen, you kings!  Pay attention, you mighty rulers!  I will sing to the Lord.  I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.

4 “Lord, when you set out from Seir and marched across the fields of Edom, the earth trembled, and the cloudy skies poured down rain. 5 The mountains quaked in the presence of the Lord, the God of Mount Sinai—in the presence ofthe Lord, the God of Israel.

6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, and in the days of Jael, people avoided the main roads, and travelers stayed on winding pathways.  7 There were few people left in the villages of Israel[a]—until Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.  8 When Israel chose new gods, war erupted at the city gates.Yet not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!  9 My heartis with the commanders of Israel, with those who volunteered for war. Praise the Lord!

10 “Consider this, you who ride on fine donkeys, you who sit on fancy saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road.  11 Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes.  They recount the righteous victories of the Lord and the victories of his villagers in Israel. Then the people of the Lord marched down to the city gates.

12 “Wake up, Deborah, wake up! Wake up, wake up, and sing a song! Arise, Barak! Lead your captives away, son of Abinoam!

13 “Down from Tabor marched the few against the nobles. The people of the Lord marched down against mighty warriors.  14 They came down from Ephraim—a land that once belonged to the Amalekites; they followed you,Benjamin, with your troops.  From Makir the commanders marched down; from Zebulun came those who carry a commander’s staff.  15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak.  They followed Barak, rushing into the valley.  But in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.  16 Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds—to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks?  Yes,in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.  17 Gilead remained east of the Jordan. And why did Dan stay home?  Asher sat unmoved at the seashore, remaining in his harbors.  18 But Zebulun risked his life, as did Naphtali, on the heights of the battlefield.

19 “The kings of Canaan came and fought, at Taanach near Megiddo’s springs, but they carried off no silver treasures.  20 The stars fought from heaven. The stars in their orbits fought against Sisera.  21 The Kishon River swept them away—that ancient torrent, the Kishon.  March on with courage, my soul!  22 Then the horses’ hooves hammered the ground, the galloping,galloping of Sisera’s mighty steeds. 23 ‘Let the people of Meroz be cursed,’said the angel of the Lord. ‘Let them be utterly cursed, because they did not come to help the Lord—to help the Lord against the mighty warriors.’

24 “Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.  May she be blessed above all women who live in tents.  25 Sisera asked for water, and she gave him milk.  In a bowl fit for nobles, she brought him yogurt.  26 Then with her left hand she reached for a tent peg, and with her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera with the hammer, crushing his head.  With a shattering blow, she pierced his temples.  27 He sank, he fell, he lay still at her feet. And where he sank, there he died.

28 “From the window Sisera’s mother looked out. Through the window she watched for his return, saying, ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?  Why don’t we hear the sound of chariot wheels?’

29 “Her wise women answer, and she repeats these words to herself:  30 ‘They must be dividing the captured plunder—with a woman or two for every man.  There will be colorful robes for Sisera, and colorful, embroidered robes for me.  Yes, the plunder will include colorful robes embroidered on both sides.’

31 “Lord, may all your enemies die like Sisera!  But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power!”  Then there was peace in the land for forty years.

 Lessons For Us All

KEY BIBLE VERSE:  Let those who love You rise like the sun in all its power!  Judges 5:31b

 ~Let your vision of the world not be shapedby the political situation of the day

but by your relationship with God.~

All scripture is meant for us to learn a lesson that we can then apply to our lives.  What lessons are we meant to take from the lives of Deborah, Barak, and Jael?

Authority: Perhaps you’re not in an influential position of authority - you can still be to your children and the children in your neighborhood and lead them in the right direction.  Perhaps you have little power in your job or position - you can still be to those around you and inspire them to righteousness.  Perhaps your life allows little time or opportunity for significant positions of leadership - you can still be in your sphere, whether big or small, wielding influence far beyond your lowly position.  You can be like Deborah, used of God.

Influence: You may feel that you don’t have a lot of influence on anybody.  But you do. Offer up to God your talents and your relationships.  And begin using them to extend His kingdom.(4)

Wisdom:  Deborah shows us the way of wisdom.  She truly lived out the adage that the way up is down.  The way to greatness in God’s kingdom is the way of humble service.  Never seeking, never aggressive, never too assertive, Deborah waited on God, encouraged others to take the lead, and assisted only when needed.  (7)

Virtue:  Declare to Him your desire to become a person who, like a warrior, moves through the challenges and duties of life with valor, courage, bravery, stamina, endurance, and power- His power. (7)

Today:  All that Deborah had is available to you today. Her wisdom is discovered in the Scriptures.  Her confidence in God is found in a relationship with him.  Her bravery is achievable when you put your trust in God and his promises.  Her inner strength and calm leadership are characteristic of confidence not in herself but in her God.  All Deborah offered to Israel she offers to you as an example of someone willing to be used by God. (1)

Examples: Christian womanhood is at a risk in our culture today. We are in desperate need for women of faith who are willing to courageously stand against sin and stand for righteousness.  But it is not enough for us to make this decision for ourselves and to carry the banner alone.  We must motivate others to follow.  Christian women need to have a vision of women confidently and boldly serving the Lord God.  We need to challenge them to lives of virtue and servanthood in order to glorify our glorious God.  We cannot issue the challenge in a vacuum.  We must be willing to make the investment, to give faithful instruction, to nurture, then to sound a clarion call to biblical womanhood.  Are there women who will step forward and bring their lives under the authority of God’s Word regardless of the risks?  Together we will celebrate aresurgence of virtuous living among the daughters of the King.  (Susan Hunt) (4)

Faith in God is necessary for any worthwhile task, and the bigger the task, the more faith is required.  God uses whom he wishes, whether a woman like Deborah or an unknown man like Barak. God will use each of us if we put our faith in him, obey, and follow where he leads.  (47)

God’s faithfulness:  Behind the story of Jael and the death of Sisera is a God who promised never to forget his people and who holds to that promise.  When hope seems dim and the prospect of victory seems close to impossible, God is at work, bringing about his plan.  The people of Israel during the time of the judges must have worn God to exasperation with their continual wavering.  When times were good they easily forgot God and went their own way.  But as soon as times got tough, they went running to him for deliverance.  Sound like anyone you know?  The story of the wavering of God’s people continues even today  We so easily move forward on our own, thinking we can handle it all, until we run up against something too hard for us.  Only then do we run to God for help.  But what anamazing God he is.  Always there.  Always willing to rescue us when we call.  Always willing to forgive. (1)

Bravery: Careful now.  What Jael did under the circumstances was big, bold, and brave.  It’s the kind of thing you do in wartime.  But for those of us facing hostile enemies on the home front, the bravest thing we can do is fight back in ways that are quiet, prayerful, and redemptive. (4)

Boldness: It takes a brave woman to take a stand for her convictions - to endure confrontation and scorn from her accusers (and sometimes, misunderstanding from her own friends)  Be bold! (4)

No Fear: “ I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.  When I sat down on the bus the day I was arrested, I had made up my mind about what it was that I had to do, what I felt was right to do.  God did away with all my fear.  It was time for someone to stand up - or in my case, sit down.  I refused to move.”  (Rosa Parks) (4)

Societal Rules:  Despite the rules of society, anyone with exceptional personal and spiritual qualities can rise to leadership. 

Bibliography

Picture pg. 2:  Painting of Deborah by Charles Landelle, 1901

Map pg. 3:  www.ldolphin.org/Deborah.htmlwith additions by Sue McG.

Picture pg. 4:  Jael and Sisera, Artemisia Gentileschi1593-1656, Museum of fine Arts, Budapest

Picture pg. 6:  Sisera Lying Dead by James Jacques JosephTissot, 1896-1902, Jewish Museum, New York

Picture pg. 7:  Jael, Deborah and Barak, by Salomon de Bray1597-1664, Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht

Picture pg. 7:  “I Arose a Mother in Israel” painting byElspeth Young, who gave Deborah a sword as a symbol not of fighting, but of theWord of the Lord and His promise of deliverance.

 

Source 1.  Women of the Bible:  A one-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture By Ann Spangler & Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1999, ISBN: 0-310-22352-0

Source 2.  All the Women of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer, Zondervan Publishing House, Michigan, ISBN 0-310-28151-2

Source 3.  she shall be called Woman by Frances Vander Velde, Kegel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1957, ISBN:0-8254-4003-3

Source 4.  Women of Character Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1998 ISBN: 0-8054-9277-1)

Source 5.  Great Women of the Bible by Clarence Edward Macartney, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1942,  ISBN:  0-8010-5901-5

Source 6.  Bad Girls of the Bible and What We can Learn From Them By Liz Curtis Higgs, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1999, ISBN: I-57856-125-6

Source 7:  Women Who Loved God By Elizabeth George, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1999, ISBN: 1-56507-850-0

Source 8:  The Bible Reader’s Companion By Lawrence O. Richards, Chariot Victor Publishing, Wheaton Illinois, 1991, ISBN:  0-89693-039-4

Source 9:  Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective by James B. Hurley,  Academie Books, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1981, ISBN: 0-310-42731-2

Source 10:  Manners and Customs of the Bible, By James M. Freeman, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 1996, ISBN: 0-88368-290-7

Source 11:  Archaeology and Bible History,  By Joseph P. Free, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992, ISBN: 0-310-47961-4

Source 12:  30 Days to Understanding The Bible,  By Max Anders, Word Publishing, Dallas, 1994, ISBN:  0-8499-3489-3

Source 13:  Illustrated Dictionary of Bible Life and Times, Barbara J. Morgan, Editor, Reader’s Digest, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. Pleasantville, NY, 1997

Source 45:  NLT Study Bible, New Living Translation, Second Edition, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, 2008, ISBN:  978-1-4143-2455-5

Source 46:  Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible By Stephen M. Miller, Barbour Publishing Co., Ohio, 2004, ISBN:  1-59310-111-2

Source 47:  christianity.about.com/od/oldtestamentpeople/a/Barak.htm

Source 48: www.biblewalks.com/info/Barak.html

 

[1] Judges 4-5  New Living Translation (NLT)  Deborah Becomes Israel’s Judge

[2] www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Prophets/Former_Prophets/Book_of_Judges/Deborah.shtml

[3] Judges 5 New Living Translation (NLT)  “The Song of Deborah”

 

OMG!

Posted by Susan McGeown on August 3, 2013 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

OMG!

Most of us know what this strange looking collection of letters means but for those who don’t it’s the texting equivalent to the expression, “Oh my God!”  From the first moment that I was asked to preach, I’ve known I wanted to talk about the phrase, “Oh my God!”

Being a little Baptist girl, I grew up with a healthy respect for the phrase, “Oh my God!”  “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain!”  (Exodus 20:7)  Based on this commandment (number three if you’re interested) I had been taught that saying the phrase was a sin.  Not actually sure what “in vain” meant back then but suitably educated in what a sin was, I’ve avoided the expression altogether.  My children were raised to not use the phrase and to this day I can’t help internally cringing when I hear someone use the phrase.  (i.e. “Oh my god!  I can’t believe you ate that whole thing!” or“Oh my god!  What’s that smell?!”)

Do you use the phrase?  When you do are you conscious of what you’re saying or is it just a casual expression along the lines of “Wow!” or “Gesundheit!” (God bless you in German, said when someone sneezes) or “Have anice day.”  The interesting thing is that“God” isn’t really God’s name.  It’s more like a title equivalent to King or Superior Court Judge.  I suppose you could say, “Oh my president!”or “Oh my mailman” with equal impunity.)

Yet after a lot of thought,I’ve decided that I think quite a few biblical characters must have used the phrase, “Oh My God!” with appropriate justification. 

I’m pretty sure that Moses must have said, “Oh My God!” when he encountered the burning

bush in the desert and has his first ever conversation with God. (Exodus 3)  He actually tried to clarify the whole name thing with God, asking him specifically “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”  (Exodus3:13)  (Please note in my humble opinion Ithink this was a viable question.)  God,in His infinite wisdom, gave the somewhat vague answer, “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14)  (Somehow, “Oh My I AM” doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

Of course, this led to the whole using the name of God in vain as a sin issue.  In essence, God is so superior to us, so transcendentally above our station within the universe that He and we being on a casual, first name basis is simply impossible.  And just in case you’re wondering, the Holy Name of God was known but only by the Jewish High Priest and he was allowed to utter it only once a year when he was inside the Holy of Holies (the most sacred location on earth).  Never written down, this Holy Name of God was written only using the consonants YHWH; the true pronunciation of which has been lost in antiquity.  Nowadays we guess by saying “Yahweh”; many of our biblical translations simply substitute “the LORD” for where the real,formal name of God should be used.  Look on many Jewish websites and you’ll see that in deference to His holiness even ‘God’is spelled out “G-d”.

Once I thought about Moses saying, “Oh My God!” that got me thinking about others biblical heroes. 

I’m pretty sure that Noah must have said, “Oh My God!” at the moment that the ark broke loose from solid ground and began to float away to parts unknown amidst an epic torrential downpour. 

Daniel probably did, too, in the lion’s den, as probably did Mary when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and Saul – who later became Paul - on the road to Damascus… 

Are you getting my point?  The phrase “Oh My God!”accurately used, should always reflect a personal statement of faith.  Is it only as meaningful to you as“Gesundheit”?  Is it merely an automated exclamation?  Or is it a sincere, heartfelt prayer?

Saul, who became known as Paul is a biblical hero that had quite a history. Privileged, educated, passionate, and spiritual he used the phrase “Oh My God!” incorrectly until the Lord set him straight on the road to Damascus.  He was a man with intimate knowledge of the feelings of loneliness, loss, regret, and guilt.  Paul wrote thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, filling over one third of that portion of the Bible.  In Ephesians 3 he writes a prayer that has come to mean a lot to me; in fact I’ve memorized it and – this will probably shock very few who know me – I’ve edited it to fit my purposes!  While the true translation is written in the third person – a prayer Paul wishes for his fellow believers in city of Ephesus – my version makes this prayer my personal Oh My God statement.  Listen to the first part of this prayer.  Can you see what My God looks like?

When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan,

I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,

the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources

He will give me mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. 

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in my heart

as I trust in Him. 

Ephesians 3:14-17

This God that I believe in and have chosen to rule my life by is so big that He can only be described as three persons in one.  Do you see that?  There is the mighty Father, the creator of everything in which my “Oh My God” can only be uttered on my knees in awe at His power and might.  There is the Holy Spirit in which my “Oh My God” is uttered standing tall and powerful (sometimes even with a cape flapping off my shoulders) in which I feel invincible.  And there is the Messiah – the Christ – my savior, redeemer, and friend who holds me close as I whisper my “Oh My God” through the agony of my tears.


This is the God that I believe in and have chosen to rule my life by. I have made the decision.  I have stepped over the dividing line of doubt into the vast expanse of a faith based life and have made an endless free fall into My God’s arms.  Oh My God!

Paul’s prayer includes adviceon how we are to achieve this.  What is our responsibility is in all this?

May my roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. 

And may I have the power to understand, as all God’s people should,

how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. 

May I experience the love of Christ,

though it is so great I will never fully understand it. 

Then I will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:18-19

“Deep roots…experience…understanding…filledwith life and power.”  I’ve made a choice to believe in all of this.  This choice to believe is an ongoing, never ending process in which I am forever growing and changing and working.  I am no longer the person I once was prior to knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior.  I am transformed.  Evolved. Made new.  No longer is the success of my earthly life measured by the dollars in my bank account nor is it evidenced by the number of grey hairs that I regularly work to cover up with Nice ‘N Easy #37.  No, the goal of my life is to make My God smile and in doing so claim the life God intended for all of us to have.  Oh My God!

For me, it’s become a lifetime commitment with a guaranteed reward that’s beyond my humanunderstanding.

Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within me,

He is able to accomplish infinitely more than I would ever dare to ask or hope.

Ephesians3:20

Oh My God!  What a promise!  “Infinitely more than I would ever dare to ask or hope.”  Can you envision what that statement entails?  It means take the biggest, broadest, most incredible possibility you could imagine and God will do “infinitely more.” 

Is “Oh My God” part of your daily vocabulary?  Can you describe your God?  Can you point to evidence in your life of being filled with His life and His power?  Are your roots deep?  Is your faith ever growing?  Are you excited about the infinite possibilities a personal relationship with God offers you?  Can you say, “Oh My God” with passionate reverence regarding your personal relationship with Your God? 

I pray that you have all these things.  Let Paul’s prayer be your personal “Oh My God” prayer, too.

 

A Eulogy Written In Honor of Rita Barney

Posted by Susan McGeown on November 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A Eulogy Written In Honor of Rita Barney

Those we love are with the Lord and theLord has promised to be with us.

If they are with Him, and He is with us,they cannot be far away. (Peter Marshall)

I didn’t meet Rita Barney until Sunday night.  Given that she was in ICU, unable to speak and barely conscious you would think that it would be impossible to understand what kind of woman she was.  But you would be wrong because you – family and friends – are a clear reflection of the woman that Rita Barney is.

Each and every one of you, whether you are family or friend, helped me know Rita, giving me a vivid glimpse of how precious she is to all of you. I heard the love in Kenny’s voice when he took me to her bedside and said, “This is my mom.”  I saw it in the deep concern of the people that lined the hospital hallways and occupied the chairs in the waiting areas.  I felt the caring that filled her ICU roomas we all held hands and prayed.  I witnessed the comfort of Rita’s loved ones who committed to hold her hand throughout the long night.  I felt it in the gracious appreciation of the many, many people who thanked me formy heart felt prayer at her bedside.  I saw the strength of family in the eyes of those who desperately didn’t want her to leave them so soon.  Rita’s legacy of love, concern, caring, comfort, gracious appreciation and strength was evident in the family and friends who surrounded her.  You reflect that and help me appreciate the woman that Rita Barney is.

I also know that Rita is a woman of faith.  How? Well, great effort was made to get a minister to her bedside on Sunday.  Through the efforts of friends and family Rita was visited by not one, not two, but three faith based strangers.  Despite being Janine’scousin, I was one of those strangers.  It was an honor and a privilege to be there on Sunday and it is an honor and a privilege to be here with you today.  I don’t believe for one minute that it is a random occurrence that I am standing here before you today. 

Our entire life is part of our personal and unique faith journey.  Did you know that “Faith” means to believe in something that can’t be proven?  What we each believe is a personal choice that we decide to make deep in our hearts. I can’t tell you very much about Rita’s faith journey, but I can tell you what I believe with every fiber of my being. 

Death is a terrifying thing for many of us.  We don’t understand it and cannot control it.  It makes us ask questions that nothing but faith can answer. What happens next?  Will I see Rita again?  Is heaven real?  What’s the truth and what’s not?  Where do I go from here?  How do make sure I’m going to get to heaven?  Jesus got asked those kind of questions all the time; even his own disciples worried about it.  Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home in heaven.  If this weren’t so, I wouldn’t have told you.”  (John 14:2)  I have chosen to trust in Jesus and believe that He is God’s son.  In making that simple choice, I step out on a faith journey that promises me more than I could hope for or imagine.

I believe that there is a place called Heaven.  It’s a place where the Bible tells us God will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things will be gone forever.  (Revelations 21:4)

I believe that Jesus is the way to get there, that His words are truth and that only through Him will I truly live.  (John 14:6)

I believe that God wants a relationship with all of us but He wants us to come to Him of our own free will. He promises love, guidance, and protection.  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Try it my way.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  (Matthew 11:28-29)

I believe God doesn’t keep score and this life we live is not a pass or fail test.  He wants us and there is nothing we have done in our past that will ever change that.  Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, He forgives them all. (Psalm 65:3)

Just because Rita’s time here with us has ended doesn’t mean that her faith journey is over.  We are promised in our next life joy, health,and purpose.  The most wonderful times of Rita’s life here with us were just tiny, tiny glimpses of what is in store for her in heaven:  the joy of being with her beloved husband, the pride of watching her children and grandchildren grow and flourish, the comfort and camaraderie of time well spent with friends and family… 

Love and faith:  the very essence of what I learned about Rita Barney in the brief few minutes I spent with her by her hospital bed are never influenced by sickness or death.  Rita Barney’s life, which is reflected in the faces of the people I see before me, is undeniable proof of that.  I am privileged to have met Rita.  You are blessed to be her family and friends.

 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank You for the life of Rita Barney.  Thank you for her family and friends who are committed to carrying forward her legacy of love and faith.  Please comfort them in their times of grief as they miss their mother, their sister, their grandmother, their aunt, and their friend.  Let them look toward the future with a growing faith rooted in the wonderful hope Your love and promises assure us.  Let them feel Your presence in their most desperate times and let that presence give them strength.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.  2 Thessalonians 2:16

 

Rita’sLegacy:

·       42 years of marriage to James

·       Four sons: Jimmy, Kenny, Richard & David

·       One daughter: Lisa

·       13 Grandchildren:  Kyle, Kirsten, Brianne, Michaela, Melissa, Kenny (KJ), Rachael, Jessica, Meagan, Amanda, Zack, Gavin, and Deegan.

 

 

QuotesAbout Rita From Her Family and Friends:

She loved her husband James very much and spoke of him and told me how much she missed him almost every day.

She always told people they were beautiful.

She was a good mom.

She was always there for us and making us laugh.

She had a heart of gold and was always sweet and kind to everyone.

She had a way of making you feel good about yourself.

Every day she would tell me how proud she was of me.

She saw people for their beauty never seeing their flaws.

She was a loving grandma.  She read books, played and shared everything she had with the kids.  She’d sneak them junk food.

She loved animals,especially cats.  She fed all the strays outside and they never went hungry.

She was a simple woman who didn’t have much and she never asked for anything.

Being with her kids made her happy and she was proud of us all.

Every year for Halloween she was either a kitty cat or a cowgirl.

She was helpful.

She didn’t have a mean bone in her body.

She only had nice things to say about everybody.

She was my biggest fan.

She was one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to know and be loved by.

She was a quirky,lovely lady.

She loved

·       Boston Cream donuts,

·       Chocolate milk,

·       Candy,

·       Elvis,

·       Bubblewrap,

·       Game shows,

 

Why Do I Pray?

Posted by Susan McGeown on September 19, 2012 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (2)

I was asked to do the women's devotional at the fall women's breakfast at our church.  Here it is.

My heart has heard God say, “Come and talk with me.”

And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Psalm 27:8 NLT

  • I pray because I believe prayer is a subversive act in a world that constantly calls faith into question… and I like to go against the world whenever I get the opportunity.

  • I pray not to tell God what He needs to know or remind him ofthings that He has forgotten.  I pray because prayer gives me the opportunity to finally care about things from the same perspective as God.  Prayer allows me to see others as God sees them.
  • I pray to give an opportunity for God to say, “yes”, “no”, or “not right now.”  God is not really silent, we are deaf.  Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers, you know. 
  • I pray because I believe it is the very best way to get to know God better.  I find it astonishing that the God of the Universe desires a relationship with me … how cool is that?
  • I pray because it’s a way of saying, “God show me what you are doing today and how I can be a part of it.”  I certainly have nothing better to do than to put myself in the stream of God’s healing work on earth.
 
  • I pray always and only for the Lord’s Will.  I make suggestions and share my desires, but always acknowledge that He Knows Best.  Certainly He has to have the best plan for the future and the best solution to any problem.  Wouldn’t it be the greatest possible disaster to argue with God and win?
  • I pray with an open heart and an open mind.  After all, God cannot fill what has not been emptied.  God is more creative, more powerful, and more clever than I could ever imagine so I’d rather go with His Ideas.  Plus, He’s got a great sense of humor.
  • With the Right Attitude and the Right Guidance I can pray almost constantly.  I can pray when I talk to people by letting the Lord lead my conversations.  I can pray when I read my Bible by offering up my heart and thoughts to Him for enlightenment.  I can pray in the car, in the line at the store, as I wash dishes and change sheets, while I eat lunch or pull weeds in my garden by willingly giving my actions over to God and letting Him lead so I can follow. 
O gracious and holy Father,
Give us wisdom to perceive Thee,
Intelligence to understand Thee,
Diligence to seek Thee,
Patience to wait for Thee,
Eyes to behold Thee,
A heart to meditate upon Thee,
A life to proclaim Thee;
Through the power of the Spirit
Of Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Benedict of Nursia)

 

What's this about a "new" heaven and a "new" earth?

Posted by Susan McGeown on September 14, 2012 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Scripture references to read:

  • Isaiah 65:17
  • Isaiah 66:22
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Galatians 6:15
  • 2 Peter 3:8-13
  • Revelation 20-21

Terms to know:

  • Christian eschatology: a major branch of study within Christian theology. Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning last(ἔσχατος, last) and study (λογία, lit. discourse), is the study of theend of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world. Broadly speaking, Christian eschatology isthe study of the destiny of mankind as it is revealed in the Bible, which is the primary source for allChristian eschatology studies.

    The major issues and events inChristian eschatology are death and the afterlife, Heaven and Hell, the SecondComing of Jesus, the Resurrectionof the Dead, the Rapture, the Tribulation, Millennialism, the end of the world, the Last Judgment, and the New Heaven and New Earth of the World to Come. Eschatological passages are found in manyplaces in the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments. There are also many extrabiblical examplesof eschatological prophecy, as well as church traditions.

  • Revelation:  to unveil or to make known.(Greek:  apokalypsis)
  • Millenium:  one thousand years
  • Tribulation:  a time of trial, suffering, distress
  • Rapture:  to be transported

Things I've learned:

  • There are two Greek words that can be translated as new:  neos and kainos.  Neos means "new in time" while kainos means "new in nature".  Both imply:  better, unfamiliar, unexpected, and wonderful.  The Greek word in the New Testament passages are all "kainos".  Which leads me to the assumption that just as I am, through Christ, a new creature (thank you, Lord!) so, too, will our world evenutally enjoy that newness.  I look forward to a world of perfection that God intended during those initial times in the Garden of Eden.
  • When is this all going to happen?  Promised, like Jesus' earthly birth, the exact date and time is not meant for us to know but merely to trust that it will eventually happen.  We are to be content with that and faithfully pursue our call and purpose here on earth.
  • How are we to interpret the Revelation passages in particular?  Well, instructions we are meant to obey have always been concise and clear.  (Just look at the ten commandments!)  Obviously, our understanding of these passages are not meant to be at this time.  I do not intend this to be a purposely simplistic explanation but what I truly believe.  That's part of my faith:  believing what I can't understand and trusting that God will reveal what I need to know when I need to know it.

Different Interpretations (In case you'd like to hear them):

  • Premillennialism: Standard premillennialism posits that Christ's second coming will inaugurate a literal thousand-year earthly kingdom. Christ’s return will coincide with atime of great tribulation. At this time, there will be a resurrection of the people of God who have died, and a rapture of the people of God who are stillliving, and they will meet Christ at his coming. A thousand years of peace will follow, during which Christ will reign and Satan will be imprisoned in the Abyss. Those who hold to this view usually fall into one of the following three categories:
  1. Pretribulation Rapture:  Pretribulationists believe that the second coming will be in two stages separated by a seven-year period of tribulation. At the beginning of the tribulation, true Christians will rise to meet the Lord in the air (the Rapture). Then follows a seven-year period of suffering in which the Antichrist will conquer the world and persecute those who refuse to worship him. At the end of this period,Christ returns to defeat the Antichrist and establish the age of peace. This position is supported by a scripture which says, "God did not appoint usto wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Thess 5:9]
  2. Midtribulation Rapture:  Midtribulationists believe that the Rapture will take place at the halfway point of the seven-year tribulation, i.e. after 3½ years. It coincides with the “abomination ofdesolation” – a desecration of the temple where the Antichrist puts an end tothe Jewish sacrifices, sets up his own image in the temple, and demands that he be worshiped as God. This event begins the second, most intense part of the tribulation.
  3. Posttribulation Rapture:  Posttribulationists hold that Christ will not return until the end of the tribulation. Christians,rather than being raptured at the beginning of the tribulation, or halfway through, will live through it and suffer for their faith during the ascendancy of the Antichrist. Proponents of this position believe that the presence of believers during the tribulation is necessary for a final evangelistic effortduring a time when external conditions will combine with the Gospel message to bring great numbers of converts into the Church in time for the beginning of the Millennium.
  • Postmillennialism:  Postmillennialism does not believe in a premillennial appearance of Christ. The postmillennial position is that the millennium began at the inauguration of Christ's kingdom reign when he ascended to his heavenly throne and happens, not as a result of the coming of Christ, but as the global population converts to Christianity as a result of evangelization. The age of peace is still a progressing work ofdivine grace, but without the visible presence of Christ to take the place ofan Earthly ruler. Christ will appear at the end of the millennium to lead his people into the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem.
  • Amillennialism:  Amillennialism does not believe in a literal Millennium. The "thousand years" is an expression, a way of referring to the entire period from the first coming ofChrist, two thousand years ago, until the future second coming. Many amillennialists believe that during this time period, the church will continue to evangelize and grow as well as suffer declination in periods until Christ’scoming. The Second Coming will be a natural culmination of the process of world evangelization, rather than a revolutionary event that brings sudden and dramatic change.

 


Was Jesus A Christian?

Posted by Susan McGeown on September 14, 2012 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

(Illustration available in Sue's Printable Notes:  Early Christianity.)

Initial Question:  How did Jesus' followers go from being Jews to Christians?

Better Question:  When did Christians stop being Jewish?


Fact:  Jesus was a faithful Jew.

Fact:  All twelve of his apostles were of the Jewish faith.

Fact:  Some Jews called Jesus "The Christ".

  • "Christ", from the ancient Greek Χριστός, Khristós, meaning 'annointed' is a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ Māšîaḥ 'the Messiah'.
  • "Messiah" means "annointed" or "chosen one".  There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the promised Hebrew Messiah.  

Fact:  The first followers of Jesus the Christ were faithful Jews.  They distinguished themselves from the non-believing Jews by calling themselves "Christians".

  • The first recorded use of the term "Christian" is in the New Testament in Acts 11:26:  "... in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians."

Fact:  Persecution by non-believing Jews towards the believing Jews began in Jerusalem after Jesus the Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and ascencion into heaven.

  • Acts 8:1:  "A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria."
  • This caused the spread of Christianity throughout the known world.

Fact:  Christians gradually became a mix of believing Jews and believing Gentiles (people who were not Jews).

  • Acts 10:45:  "The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too."

Fact:  Christianity, the religion of the Christians, eventually became the legal religion of Rome.

  • In 313 A.D., Roman Empoeror Constantine the Great (reigned 306-337) issued the Edict of Milan legalizing Christian worship.

A Well Behaved Woman ... Test!!

Posted by Susan McGeown on November 6, 2011 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

A Well Behaved Woman’s Life  …Test

how good are you at remembering?


Multiple Choice:  Chose the best possible answer.


1)  Church for Bee

  a.Was a place to get someone else to watch the kids (154)

  b.Was initiated by her mother.  (153)

  c.Was a place for desperately needed adult interaction.  (154)

  d.All of the above.

 

2)  Pastor Duncan

  a.Has no experience with widows.  (7)

  b.Has a weakness for donuts.  (21)

  c.Has been Bee’s pastor for over twenty years.  (4)

  d.Always wanted a motorcycle.  (66)

 

3)  Deborah’s children

  a.All viewed their father in the same way.  (129)

  b.Were all worried about Deborah’s mental health.  (13)

  c.Were essential to her emotional well being.  (27)

  d.None of the above.

 

4)  Deborah

  a.Met her husband on a blind date  (151)

  b.Was very enthusiastic about her first date with Peter.  (59)

  c.Never really enjoyed being a teacher.  (152)

  d.Felt as if her entire life was one, huge lie.  (2)

 

5)  Alita

  a.Has been cleaning Bee’s house for five years  (25)

  b.Never met Jonathan.  (25)

  c.Has always been happily married.  (27)

  d.Once threatened to kick her husband out of the house – without his pants.  (27)

 

6)  Peter

  a.Has been a spiritual man all his life.  (185)

  b.Made some of the same mistakes Jonathan did.  (106)

  c.Was first attracted to Bee when he saw she drove a Porsche.  (70)

  d.Wanted Bee to serve on the Hospitality Committee with him.  (37)

 

7)  Jonathan

  a.Looked exactly like Todd in his younger years.  (14)

  b.Helped Bee to become a capable woman with his absences.  28

  c.Was a good financial provider.  (29)

  d.All of the above.


Who Said It?  (Your Choices: John, Alita, Deborah, Grace, Peter, Pastor Duncan, Todd, Jonathan)


1.                 “Nice toenails!” 

__________________________________________________________________(50)

2.                 “Don’t let the tail wag the dog.” 

______________________________________________________(29)

3.                 “Yuck, I’ve always been so well-behaved.” 

_____________________________________________(154)

4.                  “I’m used to being unwelcome so we have to push harder to get ourselves in the door.”

____________________________________________________________(20)

5.                 “Should I have told you, Mom?  Would it have been better or worse?” 

______________________________________________________(49)

6.                 “Do you know that one Christmas, I was so sick and tired of all the complaints and the guilt trips that I took a trip all by myself to Hawaii?  It was the best Christmas I ever had.”

_____________________________________________________________(106)

7.                 “Oh, you’re not going to like that, so let’s change the subject.” 

______________________________________________________________(111)

8.                 “Who is this woman?  Where is she now?  What is going on with the children?  Did she know about us?  Was she a home-wrecker or was she an innocent?” 

________________________________________________________________(130)



Matching  Match the biblical character with the spiritual lesson illustrated.

 

1.                   The Widow

2.                   The Heathen

3.                   The Unloved Wife’s

4.                   The Wise Woman

5.                   The Fiery Woman

6.                   The Greedy Man

7.                   The Foolish Man

8.                   The Saddest Man

9.                    The Hero         

10.                 The Courageous Man 


      

a.   What are your priorities?  Your life depends on your answer.

b.  Truth is not always measured by majority opinion.

c.    It’s never too late to change.  No mistake is so big that it can’t be forgiven.  The right decisions are rarely the easiest.

d.    Happily-ever-afters come directly from God.

e.   True success is measured by wise choices, wise prayers, and the following of God’s wise words.

f.   The measure of a gift was not how much is given, but how much there was to give.

g.   During tough times, we should seek to find those things God has given us to see us through and beyond.

h.  What things in your life are preventing you from becoming the man or woman God wants you to be?

i.  Our most important quality must be our faith.

j.  Our past does not determine our future.

 

EXTRA CREDIT: 

Of these above biblical characters, 8 were named: Achan, Rahab, Judah, Deborah, Leah, Caleb, Solomon, and Boaz.  Can you match them with their book chapter titles?


A printable version of this test (along with the answers!!!) is available in my printable notes section.

 

What I Want To Be

Posted by Susan McGeown on November 6, 2011 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The Lord

has sought out a person

after His own heart. 

I Samuel 13:14

My Personal Theme

Posted by Susan McGeown on November 6, 2011 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)



I eagerly expect and hope

that I will in no way be ashamed,

but will have sufficient courage

so that now as always

Christ will be exalted in my body,

whether by life or by death. 

For to me, to live is Christ

and to die is gain. 

Philippians 1:20-21

 


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