3 Things I Learned from a Visit with the Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and Peyton Manning

Legacy Builder

Today’s guest post is by Rod Olson, a highly sought-after speaker, author, coach, and leadership consultant. In addition to 20 years of experience as a collegiate football coach, Olson has trained over 100,000 leaders nationwide. Today only: get his book, The Legacy Builder—along with three other titles by top leadership experts—for 70% off with the True Leadership Bundle!

What if you could spend a day with the leaders of the Army Rangers, a day with the leaders of the Navy SEALs in Coronado, CA, and then be a fly on the wall in an informal meeting with Peyton Manning? I was blessed enough to be able to do just this.

Here are three gold nuggets of wisdom I picked up on my journeys this past month with some of these elite leaders.

1. Focus on facts, not feelings

As I found myself at the edge of a 75-foot cliff, I had a decision to make: succumb to my feelings of fear and doubt, or trust the facts and training that I received earlier and repel down the cliff.  It had been a long time since I was on the player’s side of things, and this cliff was forcing me to put my “leadership” teachings to the test.

Army Ranger leaders have their soldiers focus on the facts—not how they feel when performing difficult tasks. If we hope to get through trying circumstances, or coach others to do the same, we must focus on the situation’s facts, not our feelings.

2. Develop the person, not the title

“If we can’t trust you as a man, we won’t be able to trust you as a soldier,” said the veteran SEAL instructor. When I heard this, it reminded me of the importance of developing the person, not just the athlete, employee, or student.

The SEAL instructors believe it’s their calling to develop special people who do uncommon things.  If we hope to develop elite athletes, employees, or students, we must also develop the person. Excellence, selflessness, and discipline are ways of life—not something you can turn on and off. They must be lived and coached daily.

3. Expand your “court awareness”

“Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you are doing.” —Peyton Manning

As I watched Peyton Manning enter the baseball manager’s office, the manager said to me, “Rod, years ago, Peyton came to take batting practice here and he’s the only celebrity that has ever asked me if I could take him underneath to the batting cages for a short coaching session prior to him taking batting practice on the field that afternoon . . . that tells you a bit about who Peyton is.”

Manning’s preparation skills are well documented, just as we see in the quote above; however, as I sat in the office with him that day, another quality jumped out: court awareness.  As I listened to Manning speak, his awareness of his surroundings and others was palpable.  He acknowledged others in the room and included us in the conversation.  He honored the differences and similarities of baseball and football, and most importantly, he didn’t do or say anything inappropriate.  And with great court awareness comes both maturity and humility—qualities that are integral to being a strong leader.

Going forward, here are some questions to consider:

1. In times of stress, do I focus on facts or feelings?

2. Am I development driven or results driven?

3. Would the people I lead say that I have great “court awareness?”

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Today only: get Rod Olson’s book, The Legacy Builder, along with three other titles for 70% off with the True Leadership Bundle.

Here’s what you’ll get:

Don’t wait: the True Leadership Bundle expires December 21 at 7:59 a.m. (EST)!

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Today Only: Get 70% Off the D. A. Carson Bundle

Scandalous

D. A. Carson is one of the most recognizable theologians of the twenty-first century. He is well known for his work as a professor, pastor, author, and theologian, as well as being the founder of The Gospel Coalition. Carson has cowritten and coedited about 60 books, including Gospel-Centered Ministry, The Holy Spirit, and Can We Know the Truth.

Today only, take 70% off of the D. A. Carson Bundle.

Here’s what you’ll get:

As part of the 24 Days of Vyrso, get this bundle for $13.99—saving 70% off the original price.

D. A. Carson is a regular source of wisdom for Bible teachers, scholars, and pastors. These books cover a multitude of topics: the doctrine of the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the scandalous theology of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and historical narrative on the ministry of Carson’s father, which suffered from persecution but later found revival.

Strengthen your understanding of scripture with the D. A. Carson Bundle. But don’t wait: this bundle ends December 20, at 7:59 a.m. (EST)!

This bundle is just one of the many bundles offered during the 24 Days of Vyrso. Through December 24, we’ll introduce a new 24-hour book bundle every day. Check Vyrso.com daily to take advantage of these awesome deals!

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Get Over $180 Off the Warren Wiersbe Bundle!

Wiersbe Bundle

Another 24 Days of Vyrso deal has arrived! For the next 24 hours, take $180 off the Wiersbe Bible Study Bundle! This bundle includes study guides to over 30 books in the Bible.

Warren Wiersbe is a renowned pastor and author of Christian works, including over 150 books. Integrating material from his popular “Be” Series, this bundle is the perfect way to start a Bible study that covers many books in the Bible. Wiersbe does an excellent job of organizing each book into logical order, making your personal or group Bible study more organized and meaningful. Each volume also offers discussion and reflection questions that will help you grasp the depth of Scripture, and develop your walk in faith.

Start the new year out right

This bundle is the perfect way to kick-start your Bible study in 2014. Whether you’re looking to form a small group or dive into a new guide for your personal devotions, the Wiersbe Bible Study Bundle is an awesome collection to study with—and for 24 hours, you can get it for 70% off!

Each title retails for $8.99, but because it’s the 24 Days of Vyrso, you can get each book for just $2.70 when you buy the Wiersbe Bible Study Bundle! With over 30 titles included, that’s a savings of over $180!

Don’t miss your chance to get this one-of-a-kind collection at an amazing price! But you only have 24 hours to act, so add the Wiersbe Bible Study Bundle to your ebook collection now!

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Make it Your Best Christmas Ever: 2 Tips for Newlyweds

iStock_000017704212Small

I love Christmas. I mean, like, really love Christmas. I’m the first person in line for a Christmas tree, I bake approximately five gazillion tons of Christmas goodies every year, and despite my complete inability to sing on-key, I belt out Christmas carols from Thanksgiving morning until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Some call it obnoxious; I call it festive.

Fortunately, I married a tolerant husband who’s willing to indulge my oddities (and there are many). We’ve been married two years, and every Christmas has been awesome. In fact, it’s during the holidays that I really start to appreciate how blessed we are and how much fun we have together (I credit most of this to our mutual love of Christmas karaoke). God wants you to delight in your spouse (Song of Solomon 4:10), so why not start by celebrating one of the most delight-inducing times of the year?

Here are two tips for making your first Christmas together the best Christmas ever:

1. Break old traditions

So this is an obvious fact, but I’m going to tell you anyway: Douglas firs are the best Christmas trees ever.

You know what I mean—the super-plump gems hidden at the back of the tree farm? Sadly, my husband just doesn’t understand the beauty of a fat Christmas tree. Instead, he roots for the overgrown Charlie Brown trees that look both naked and embarrassed by their flimsy branches. We go back and forth on the Christmas tree every year—alas, this is a battle I never win. Much like the other things we disagree on (cough, how much chocolate to put in the hot chocolate, cough, cough), this is just something we have to meet in the middle on.

Breaking old traditions is all about compromising with your spouse. If he’s always had ham, but you’ve always eaten pizza on Christmas Eve, break the mold and make pancakes instead. If he’s convinced that all the ornaments should match, but you’re still in love with your Elmer’s-encrusted, noodle-adorned ornament from the third grade, then hang them both.

Getting married isn’t about clinging to the way things have always been (as comforting as that may be)—it’s about starting a new life with the one you love.

2. Make new traditions

Don’t you just love it when you and your spouse have a favorite restaurant or favorite song or favorite ridiculous hobby? (Please see the above comment about Christmas karaoke).

The same goes for sharing holiday traditions.

One of the most important traditions my husband and I started was promising each other we’d attend a Christmas Eve service. This was never a tradition in my family growing up, mainly because getting changed out of our sweatpants and trudging all the way to church seemed practically blasphemous. Fortunately, I married an ambitious, godly husband who isn’t afraid to hide my yoga pants long enough for me to brush my hair and get my butt in a pew.  And once I get there, away from our Christmas tree and Christmas fudge and Christmas presents, I’m reminded that Christmas isn’t about any of those things—it’s about Jesus. As simple as that is to say, there’s something really powerful about taking that 20-minute ride to church, singing Christmas songs with the congregation, and hearing the story of the Nativity.

Whether it be reading the Christmas story together, sharing how God has blessed you in the last year, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, make a new tradition that’s both unique to your relationship and puts the focus on Jesus.

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Want to learn more about establishing a loving, happy relationship all year long? Check out these helpful resources by the people who know best:

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3 Tips for Sticking With Your Daily Devotions

My Daily Devotions

With today’s fast-paced culture constantly invading our lives, we tend to dismiss seemingly “low-importance” items on our proverbial list of priorities. When my own life gets busy, one of the first items to hit the chopping block is my devotional time with Jesus. I know my relationship with Jesus should be my first priority, because he alone can sustain me, but I constantly put my devotional life on hold to do what feels more important at the time.

But what happens when we do this? We lose perspective on what’s important and become overwhelmed by the giants in our lives. Our eyes get ripped away from developing and maintaining a relationship with Jesus, and our gaze gets fixed on what’s seen through the lens of daily struggle.

Here are three tips I’ve learned in my efforts to stick to my daily devotions:

1. Schedule reminders

The point is not to be legalistic about how and when you do your devotions—the point is to stay consistent by reading daily. I found that setting a reminder or alarm on my phone, or creating an event in my calendar, helped me prioritize and schedule time for my devotions. Although, you don’t have to use your phone (mine never leaves my hip, so it’s the best way to keep me on schedule)—write it on your hand, leave a sticky note on the mirror, or put your Bible in your cereal box. Do whatever it takes so you don’t miss your reminder.

2. Get someone to hold you accountable

Tell those around you about your goals. Your spouse, family and friends, and pastor or mentor can all offer much-needed encouragement while you try to stick to your devotional time. Have them check in once in a while to find out how you’re doing, listen to your prayer requests, and offer encouragement. You can also get connected to a larger faith community where sharing your walk can become an encouragement to everyone, and vice versa. Faithlife is a great place to connect with Christians around the world, in your area, or from your church. You can even select and participate in topical reading plans to help keep you on track.

3. Use the power of prayer

Prayer is the most powerful tool a Christian wields, and it can play a crucial role in your devotional time. In prayer, tell the Father what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and the desires of your heart. Prayer shouldn’t just be a part of your devotional life; it should consume and benefit your devotional life. Ask God to change your heart by directing your eyes toward him and developing the self-control to stick with your daily devotions.

Learn more about how to make spending time with God a daily habit: check out these three inspirational titles.

1. My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day by A. W. Tozer

2. Moments with You: 365 All-New Devotions for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey

3Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

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Win a MacBook Pro, Logos 5 Portfolio, and 10 Vyrso books!

JAX Conference Blog Header

We’re kick-starting the 28th annual Pastors’ Conference in Jacksonville, FL with a special Logos giveaway. Through January 22, enter to win Logos 5 Portfolio, a 13” MacBook Pro, and 10 Vyrso books by conference speakers!

Running from January 23–26, this year’s conference theme is “Feed My Sheep: The Call to Preach the Bible,” and will feature speakers like Jim Cymbala, Tim Tebow, Dorothy Kelley Patterson, and more! This is the perfect opportunity to connect and learn from other passionate speakers and pastors, and return to your ministry feeling refreshed, energized, and with new ideas to help you lead a Christ-centered church. Learn more about the Jacksonville Pastors’ Conference by checking out their website.

Get 10 Vyrso books!

Enter the giveaway for your chance to win these 10 Vyrso books by Jacksonville Pastors’ Conference speakers:

Explore all of these books with the free Vyrso app—available for both iOS and Android devices. Check out all of the benefits of Vyrso today!

Enter to win!

Entry closes January 22. We’ll select and notify the winner January 23. If you win and you already own Logos 5 and/or any of the above-mentioned books, you’ll receive Logos.com credit in place of the prizes. The winner will need to fill out a W-9 in order to claim their prize. By entering the giveaway, you’re opting to receive emails from Vyrso and Logos. 

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Today Only: Get 70% Off the Powerful Ministry Bundle!

Christ-Based Leadership

The 24 Days of Vyrso continues with the Powerful Ministry Bundle! For only 24 hours, get six pastoral resources for 70% off!

This bundle includes a well-rounded selection of titles that will help improve your ministry and establish a healthy church environment. Learn to be a powerful public speaker, overcome common ministry barriers, effectively staff your church, and become a Christ-based leader. The Powerful Ministry Bundle equips you with the tools, tips, and encouragement you need to establish a healthy, cross-centered church.

Here’s what you’ll get:

Regularly $96.95, get all six titles for just $28.99!

Don’t wait: the Powerful Ministry Bundle ends December 14 at 7:59 a.m. (EST)—download it today!

* * * 

This bundle is just one of the many bundles offered during the 24 Days of Vyrso! Through December 24, we’ll introduce a new 24-hour book bundle every day. Check Vyrso.com daily to take advantage of these awesome deals!

 

 

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Real Hope for the Holidays

Dead Elf

Today’s guest post is by Kasey Van Norman, bestselling author of Named by God, and founder of Kasey Van Norman Ministries. Her new book, Raw Faith: What Happens When God Picks a Fight, takes readers through her struggles with cancer and redemption through Christ.

It’s OK. You can say it.

I’m an elf murderer.

It’s like I can hear the collective gasps from all “marshmallow-buying,” “Pinterest-popping,” “shelf-scheming,” moms all over the world.

I first met Jingle, our Elf on the Shelf, in Christmas 2012. Attempting to compensate from the prior Christmas, which I chemo-barfed my way through, I purchased this jolly chap and commenced to “pinning” each and every “elf-trouble” scenario that had been invented by parents obviously more in touch with elfin demeanor than I was. I followed the instructions given on the box to a tee: no touching Jingle, Jingle is watching you, and my favorite rule: each morning Jingle creates a tiny pocket of mayhem however he chooses. My kids would have been unloaded on pretty hard for some of the stunts ”Jingle” pulled, but who could give a spanking to those rosy cheeks and cheery green eyes?

Every night I thought, and “pinned,” and studied, and scrambled to recreate better, more creative chaos than the night before. Each morning the kids awoke with excitement to find what that “bad elf” had been up to.

By the time December 20 rolled around, I thought to myself, “We’re obsessed with this dang toy.”

I was obsessed, the kids were obsessed, and quite honestly, I was done.

And so . . . I killed him.

Here’s the deal, guys: the elf convicted me.

I know, that seems trifle to say, but it’s true. Dealing with this “Elf on the Shelf” jazz made me feel pretty yucky. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first (mainly because it was covered in peanut butter from cleaning up after a demon-possessed elf adventure), but I’ve thought and prayed and here is my conclusion:

It was just too much energy on the wrong thing.

It was just too much thinking on the mythical instead of the real.

I had unintentionally and innocently shifted the attention in my home from what was real to what was not.

Misplacing your faith in myth

One of the primary sources of dysfunction in our world, if not the primary dysfunction, is the disbelief that God really is who he says he is. All of the broken relationships, addictions, worries, fears, burdens of deep shame and guilt that can overwhelm our life will always point back to only one place: the disbelief in what’s real.

Even when humans hope, we hope wrongly. The worldly way of hope is not true hope because it’s still woven with a small thread of doubt. We say things like, “I hope I get that job,” “I hope she invites me,” and “I hope we don’t divorce.” Even as it leaves our lips, even though our mind may determine it to be so, our heart is still doubting; still questioning. We don’t really know for certain we will get the job, or that she likes us, or that our marriage will stay together. Or do we?

Discovering God’s hope

In 1 Peter 1, we see hope described as a hope that is “full,” as well as a hope that is “living.” In Hebrews 6, we’re told to “hope in full assurance.” And all across the Bible’s landscape, the hope given to us is the same—it’s meant to be believed because it’s real.

The world’s hope—a world that inundates itself with mythical creatures, games, ideas, and traditions—is a hope that desires future things, yet those desires are riddled with the uncertainty of actually attaining them.

God’s hope, on the other hand, places his desires within our heart so that we can believe, in all certainty, that our desire will come to pass. In God’s hope, we are confident, certain, and sure. In God’s hope, we expect great things from God and believe those great things will happen in our life!

The tragedy traced across the board of humanity is how often we choose to believe in myth, and how little we choose to believe in truth.

I’m not asking you to sit your kids down and tell them that Santa and his elves are a myth, although that’s what I chose to do. But I’m challenging you to think on what fundamental life lessons we’re pouring our energies into.

Do we want to teach our children to believe in truth because God is truth and hoping in him will always give us certainty in life? Or, do we want to teach our children that while hoping in myth is fun for a while, its magic will one day let us down because it’s not certain or true?

We celebrate Christmas because Jesus is real. He is truth and life, and all hope set upon him will never fail. In a world that is constantly changing and overwhelming us with false hope, I choose to believe in the only one who is unchanging, constant, and everlasting—Jesus Christ.

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As a respected Bible teacher, Van Norman has dedicated her life to sharing God’s Word and encouraging women to trust in God. Learn to strengthen your faith and place your hope in Jesus Christ: pre-order Van Norman’s new book, Raw Faith, for 35% off!

 

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Stop Playing Hide-And-Seek: How to Step into God’s Light

Found in Him

Today’s guest post is by Elyse Fitzpatrick, author of two new books, Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ and Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional—and you can get both for 35% off! Fitzpatrick has authored 18 books, and has been a women’s counselor since 1989.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

When we were children, it was fun to play hide-and-seek. I still play it sometimes with my grandchildren, except we play a version of it called “sardines.” This version is played at night, in the dark, with one person hiding and everyone else trying to find them. Then, once they’re found, they’re joined by the one doing the finding, until nearly everyone is all packed like sardines into the closet or a bathtub or under a couch (or some other way-too-small secret hiding place) trying to be very, very quiet, and trying not to laugh. The worst feeling in the world is to be the last person walking through a dark house calling out, “Guys? Guys? Where are you?” and knowing that everyone is together someplace snickering about what a dolt you are.

Most of us enjoyed playing hide-and-seek as children, but as we mature, the game becomes more intense and the feelings of isolation and shame become more serious. We’re not playing at this anymore and now the stakes are terribly high. Will someone actually come searching for us? Will we be welcomed in? Will we be loved? Will the people we care about still love us once they see who we really are? These are the questions that dog us and force us into hiding. I can’t let anyone really know me, because if I do , they’ll see what an imposter I am and I’ll lose their love. These are the anxious thoughts of adults who are still playing hide-and-seek.

Stop hiding

John’s words in 1 John 1:7 must penetrate our hiding places, piercing into all those places where we’re still pretending to be something other than what we really are. The Holy Spirit is calling each of us out, calling us to walk out into the light as he himself is in the light. He’s calling us to put aside all of our fig-leaf identities, all of our really, I’m okay, really I am, protestations, and step out into the light that exposes us for what we are, yet welcomes us as beloved daughters and sons. 

We are sinners. That’s why John assures us that God knows who and what we really are no less than three times in the opening paragraphs of his letter. Three times in just three verses, the Holy Spirit switches on the lights and drags us out of hiding. We are sinners. He knows all about it, but we’ve been sought and found. We don’t need to be afraid or hide like Adam did. God knows us and loves us still.

Open yourself to others

Of course, the truth is that we’ve all been playing hide-and-seek since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden when the Lord called out, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) and the man admitted his fear, his guilt, his shame, and his hiding. We’ve all been in shadow ever since, trying to adjust our fig leaves so that we won’t be embarrassed. To one extent or another, we’re all ashamed, and we’re all trying to cover ourselves up. We’re all posers. And this posing doesn’t only affect our relationship with the Lord. It affects our relationships with everyone we know.

We all know what it’s like to be with posers—people who never let you in and never let their guard down enough for you to really know them. It makes deep fellowship utterly impossible. That’s because the only way for us to experience true relationship—the only way we can walk transparently and vulnerably—is when we are walking in the reality of the need for our blood-drenched cleansing. When we’re walking in the light, letting others really see us—warts and all, we’re able to admit our sin and guilt; we’re able to be who we really are: really great sinners with a really great Savior.  We’re able to confess our sins, to stop pretending to be better than we are, to say to others, “I’m just like you. Let’s run to Jesus together.”

Step into the light

How do we get there—how do we walk into the light? We walk into the light by remembering the gospel: you were hidden but he sought you out. He came to save sinners, his enemies, the weak, the foolish, and the naked. He was shamed and abandoned; he let himself hang in humiliation for you, so that you no longer have to pretend or hide the truth about yourself from others. Because his Father hid his face from him, we can walk out into the light. The darkness of Calvary is over; all that we know of shame and guilt has been obliterated by his work. The sun has risen.

So let us walk out of hiding and shadow and darkness into the light knowing that everything that ever needed to be said about us has already been said. We are loved, we are forgiven, we are righteous, we are cleansed. You can be known because he already knows you even better than you know yourself and yet he loves. He is the Lord of light . . . let us walk as children of the light.

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Learn to come out of hiding and find yourself in Christ: download Fitzpatrick’s new book, Found in Him, for 35% off.

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7 Tips for Praying as a Family

Covering Your Life in Prayer

Many people view prayer simply as a two-way conversation between themselves and God—something that’s both private and silent. But what if you also started using prayer as a means of communicating with others? Prayer is a powerful tool, so why not rely on it for more than just your conversations with God, but also your family’s conversations with God and each other? Here are seven tips for bringing prayer into your family’s daily life:

1. Pray consistently

Make family prayer a habit. Set aside a time each week when everyone comes together to share their requests and speak to God. Make it easy by having it occur when everyone is already together, like after dinner or before breakfast.

2. Keep a written record

Write down everyone’s prayer requests. Each week, keep track of which ones are answered—and remember that God often answers prayers in unexpected or indirect ways!

3. Say grace before meals

Make praying before meals an ingrained custom for the whole family. If you weren’t already doing this, then praying prior to meals is a great first step toward implementing further prayer into your family’s lifestyle. Don’t forget about when you’re at restaurants, too—you may be setting a good example for more people than you realize.

4. Give thanks

Many blessings often go unnoticed until they’re gone—health, safety, family members. Make the first priority in your prayer time to give thanks to God for all things—big and small—that he’s given you.

5. Keep it conversational

This is an intimate time to spend with your family and God—it’s not a sermon or seminary class. Help keep the lines of communication open and comfortable for everyone by setting the tone in a simple, conversational manner.

6. Post reminders

Keep the list of prayer requests in a place the whole family will see them consistently. Perhaps on the door of the fridge, or taped to the bathroom mirror. It’s encouraging to know that everyone is praying for you beyond the prayer time you spend together.

7. Continue the dialogue

Use your weekly prayer time as a new opportunity to further awareness of what’s going on in your family’s everyday life. Praying together opens the way for further dialogue and encouragement throughout the week.

What advice do you have for praying together as a family or with friends? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Learn more about integrating prayer into your daily life with the Powerful Prayer Bundle—get it for 70% off, today only!

Here’s what you’ll get:

This bundle expires December 11 at 7:59 a.m. (EST), so don’t wait—download the Powerful Prayer Bundle today!

 

 

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