Category Archives: Fighting to Win

God and Prizes

God and Prizes

“After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, and your very great reward.’” (Genesis 15:1).

Someone asked me the other day if I thought that people were logging in to the blog and commenting just to receive a prize.

Perhaps.

Does that bother me?

Not at all. Because here’s the deal…

I believe that God and prizes go together. At the end of the day, no matter your reason for stopping in, whether for a prize or for a word,

You still get Jesus! For he is the great and ultimate Reward of our precious lives.

I’ve lived a long time for the rewards of this world. I’ve tasted some, and I’ve gone without. But no matter my appetite, there is only One who truly fills. He is why I get up every morning. He is why I walk it through…this crazy life of mine…every day. He is where I’m headed. He is the pulse behind this blog.

For the rest of my days, Christ alone is worthy of my boast. It is my deepest hope and prayer that you will always find him here…no matter the reason for your visit.

May God be close to each one of you in your hearts this day. May you sense his defining presence at every turn. May you feel the breath of his consecration over your very life, and may God give you pause enough to see him when he splits the sky and lands on your scene in the next 24 hours.

It is my joy and privilege to have you in my life. It is our Father’s joy to have you as his child for always. Walk in that abundance and take hold of your Reward. His name is Jesus, and his love for you cannot be measured.

And for one of you…well let’s make that TWO of you…

I pray that Beth Moore’s book, David: 90 Days With A Heart Like His, will lead you closer to your Reward.

Our little warrior has picked our first winner before heading out to school this morning…

Tracy

And not to be left out, my little princess wanted her two cents in the matter…

Regina

So congratulations to Tracy @ My Cup Runneth Over and to Regina @ Grinder’s Switch: Heaven on Earth. Please send me your snail mail ASAP via my e-mail (eolsen2@nc.rr.com). Please take a moment to visit these ladies on their blogs and offer your congrats! As always,

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Fighting To Win (part six): Remembering Whose You Are

Fighting To Win (part six): Remembering Whose You Are

“As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, ‘Abner, whose son is that young man?’ … ” (1 Samuel 17:55).


We have arrived. Another ending to a wonderful two weeks together in the study of God’s Word. The beauty of our ending is that it sets the stage for our continuing…for our moving forth from this one moment with a little more truth under our belts and a little more faith grasped within our hands. That is the power of Bible study. It accomplishes. It achieves. It does something within us, even when we remain unaware of its effecting work (Isaiah 55:10-11). We can be silent in our learning, or we can put words to God’s working within. Sometimes, silence is easier. Less confrontational. Less to risk, thus one reason I am convinced that we hear so little from the church at large these days.

But putting voice to God’s truth can be a hard obedience if not voiced in faith. For almost as soon as our “talk” issues forth from our lips, our “walk” is required to follow in compliance.

Walking what we talk. Living out the faith that we profess to believe. Whether the words come in conversation, from behind a pulpit, in a Bible study or a Sunday school room, via a television screen, through the radio, or whether painted across the canvas of a blog. Whenever and wherever faith is preached, the preacher of said faith better be prepared to back up his/her words with action—with a life that exemplifies the true Truth of what is being said. If not, then we fall prey to an enemy’s schemes and to a critic’s charge of hypocrisy. And while our intentions may be honest—spoken with the true confession of a heart that wants to live in faith—all too often our words spend as cheap if not first and constantly surrendered to the fire of the only Refiner who can brand our lives with genuine intent.

I want to be a genuine truth teller, so it comes to me as no surprise that when I began to write about Fighting to Win, the enemy would recognize my need to talk and would stand ready to force me to walk that talk. He has forced the issue, and I am still walking, albeit not smoothly and not without a limp. It matters not the details of my struggle. Mine is not yours, but rest assured that our enemy is one in the same. We may call him by different names, but his intent has always been singularly focused. Our defeat. As it is today, so it was all those years ago, when the enemy named Goliath reared his ugly head on the battlefield of David’s faith.

Please take a moment to read our final portion of scripture as found in 1 Samuel 17:48-58.

David backed his talk with a fearless walk. Well armored with a five stone kind of faith, David exacted a blow that would silence his Goliath. Yes, the enemy would return to David in various maskings over the days to come, but this one battle was finished. Completed. An ending that set the stage for David’s continuing. And his ending speaks a lesson to each one of us who enter the fray of battle to finally know a victory in the end.

David humbly chronicles his ending by bringing his trophy of war to his king and by rightly identifying his ancestral heritage.

“As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. ‘Whose son are you, young man?’ Saul asked him. David said, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.’” (1 Samuel 17:57-58).

Now that’s some perspective. At the end of the day, David brought the king what the king was due, and he gave his father’s name the recognition and honor that it was due.

Before David would eventually find his promised throne, David would fight many battles with the one enemy who was intent on keeping this shepherd boy from it. The enemy knew that there was more at stake than an earthly crown and scepter. There was something eternal and lasting about David’s ascension to the throne. Something about a scepter not departing and a Messiah yet to come (Genesis 49:10). Kingdom business was at hand, and the enemy was not going down easy. But make no mistake. He was going down. His downward spiral continues through the likes of you and me, for the torch…the King’s business…has been handed over to us. For we are sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are his family tree.

How long has it been, my sisters and my brothers, since you…yes you…have brought your trophies of war and laid them at the feet of our King? When was the last time you held your ground in a battle with a five stone kind of faith to know a sure victory in the end? Do you even begin to understand your ancestral lineage?

Today, you and I have been summoned by the God of all creation to enter into his courts. To bring our trophies of war and to lay them at his feet. To put voice to the one and final question that King Saul asked of David as he walked from the battlefield at the end of day…

Whose son…whose daughter are you?

Our answer embodies our theology. And if your truth answers anyone other than the LORD Jesus Christ, then your perspective is flawed and your faith is as nothing. There will be precious little to lay at his feet because faith is the foundation for all victory. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and my friends…

I want to please him. With a life that lives a faith that is true, that is grounded in the truth, and that walks the talk, not with hypocrisy, but with integrity and sacred intention. I am my Father’s daughter, and so I pray…

Let it not be in vain, Lord…these past two weeks of Bible study. Take the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart and multiply it all toward your good and perfect end. I am flawed, Lord…far beyond what the world can see. You, alone, know where my faith is weak and where my walk doesn’t measure up to my talk. Purify the difference between the two. Consume my intent with the sacred flames of your intent until all that can be seen is your Truth living in me, as He is meant to be seen. Thank you, Father, for rooting my family tree. It is my highest privilege to be grafted within your sacred bloodlines. Show me how to walk in faith with that talk this day. Amen.

What a joy and privilege to share this past two weeks with you! In a past season, I would have kept my writings to myself…saving them for a better day. But God has spoken this truth over my heart recently…

Spend it today, child. For tomorrow is not promised to you.

And so, in obedience I’ve spent it. Not perfectly, and not without some flaws, but obediently…fully believing that God can use my pen to further his kingdom work in whatever way he chooses. If these reflections have drawn you into thinking about our God further…then all is not in vain. For he is the treasure at the end of the day!

Please feel to leave your comments about anything you’ve gleaned from our time together in God’s Word. I will wait until Monday to pick a name for the give-away. May God bless each one of you this weekend with a rich awareness of just exactly who you are in Him! You are worthy of my time, and I feel so blessed to have walked this portion of the road with you. As always…

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Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

Fighting to Win (part five): Embracing the Run


“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” (1 Samuel 17:48).

We are nearing the end of our look at David’s fight with a giant. Today’s portion of scripture is my son’s favorite part because his young heart is prone to battles and swords and, quite frankly, a little gore. Yes, this is the portion we remember from our youth. It’s a worthy remembrance, but let us not forget our focus—Fighting to Win. If we read this text as familiar, we will miss an extraordinary single glance into one of David’s finer battle strategies for fighting the enemy. We will miss his run.

And in war, as in life, running in the right direction is everything!

Take a few moments to read 1 Samuel 17:45-54. May God bless the reading of his Word as only he can.

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It has been over a year now since that day when I lost my focus. My eyes wandered to the left for but a few brief moments. Those were moments enough to move my feet in a similar direction—off the edge of the pavement to know a tangling that would cause my fall, bloody my knees, and seriously damage my left foot. The doctor declared a six-week hiatus from almost everything. I scoffed at his diagnosis. A little elevation and a lot of ice would have me back up and running in no time. I was wrong. He was right, and twelve months later, my ankle still bears the scars of an unfocused run.

I have been a runner for over twenty years. Over time, my pace has slowed and my commitment has waned. What once was a five day a week discipline is now down to three, but running is an obedience that my body craves. So when my ankle knew injury last Spring, I worried about rediscovering my pace. Others counseled me to trade in my running for walking, and for awhile I considered their advice. But something happened long about month three of recovery. While out walking one morning, my feet found their rhythm, and my twenty year companion came home to find its rest within my pace.

It’s been hard. Every now and then my ankle twinges with a reminder of last year’s fall. I still wear an ankle support each time I hit the pavement. I suppose I always will, but I can’t deny this craving deep within. It is a craving that walking will never suffice, for these feet were…this life was…

Born to run.

As it is with my feet, so it is with my heart. God shaped it for loving. For living life at the outer edges of known realities. For moving forward to take hold of that for which he has taken hold of me. For engaging life with fearless abandon, throwing off everything that easily entangles so as to embrace the one tangling that is worthy of my hold—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A Triune tangling that I cannot fully understand, but one that I want tied to my heart for always.

Thus, I pursue the One who is mine for the grasping. Whether in seasons of plenty or in seasons of want. In moments of peace or in moments of chaos. In good health or in crippled condition. Regardless of my estate, God is worthy of my pace.

David knew about such sacred pursuing. God would call him “a man after his own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14). He spent his entire life in a full throttle run toward the one and only God who can be known. Even in moments of darkness, he always found his way home, for David’s heart was…

Born to run.

After bears. After lions. After giants. After God. Whatever the current need, David’s passion took the lead. David understood something that I think few us ever really comprehend, especially when it comes fighting the enemy. David knew that…

Running forward to a battle line’s embrace means that the sacred ground left behind will remain as it is. As sacred.

Untouched by the enemy’s advancement. Unscathed by the ravages of war. Unmarked by the bloodied swords of battle.

When David witnessed Goliath’s advancement, David ran to meet him at the battle line. In doing so, he kept Goliath’s feet from gaining any further ground within the territory that belonged to his Father.

All along, David kept his perspective (part one). He recognized the enemy’s schemes (part two). He knew that this particular battle was his to fight (part three), and he held the right stone within his grasp (part four). Well armored with the facts and with an abundance of faith, David quickly found his pace and ran hard after his Father’s victory. David knew that decisive and swift action was the best course to follow if the enemy was to know sure defeat.

So David ran. An enemy fell. And at the end of the day, Israel remained as it was—as sacred pasture for a sacred sheep.

David was born to run. So am I. So are you. Our minds, our hearts, and our feet were made for the swift conquest of an enemy who knows that the longer he is engaged, the weaker we can become. If he gets his feet onto the soil of our fear, then indeed, we will taste some blood. We will know some scathing. We will boast some scars.

I have some of those scars. I cannot run today without the reminder of yesterday’s unfocused run. I run with a twinge of pain. A thorn of sorts. But still and yet, I find my pace, and perhaps, I am a better runner because of it. I am reminded that no matter the past…no matter the falls that my life has known, I can still find my feet. I can know the thrill of some pavement beneath my pace and the wind’s caress upon my cheeks because my Father has created me for the pursuit. Pursuit of Him. Pursuit of victory over the enemy. Pursuit of everything that he has intended for my life.

Sacred living on sacred soil. That’s what I am after, and so I pray…

Keep my running, Father, with the perspective that leads me to the sacred soil of your pasture. Give me the swift and sure faith to meet the enemy where he stands. Let the wounds and the bleeds of yesterday’s battles remind me that, while scarred, I still have some fight left in me. Strengthen my feet for the pursuit, and keep my eyes focused in the right direction—in the Way that leads me home to my forever. Let the heart and feet of your servant David find a similar pulse within my frame this day, for you, alone, are worthy of my pursuit. Amen.

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I welcome your comments and thoughts on this reflection (part five of six). When the study is completed, I will compile all of the comments and select one to receive a prize. May the God of David be the God who holds your pursuit this day. May you follow hard after him…the ultimate Prize and our very great Reward. You were born to run! Run well.

Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

Fighting to Win (part four): Choosing the Right Stone

Fighting to Win (part four): Choosing the Right Stone

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).


A few years ago, I worked through Beth Moore’s Bible study, “Believing God.” As with every study of Beth’s, I take away a few “nuggets” that stay with me over the course of time. In this particular study, Beth challenges participants to move beyond a faith that simply believes in God to a faith that boldly believes God—a faith that takes God at his word and walks in full assurance of that word.

Beth taught us a five point pledge of faith that beautifully scripts God’s identity and ours.

“God is who he says he is. God can do what he says he can do. I am who God says I am. I can do all things through Christ. God’s Word is alive and active in me.”[i]

It is pledge that frequents my mind and my heart because my wandering mind is prone to the deceit of my thoughts, and my wandering heart is prone to the deceit of man. By nature, I am a wanderer…in thought and in deed. Such a temporal shaping leaves little room for the shaping that God desires to do within me. And what he desires to do requires a deliberate yielding on my part—an intentional obedience that is willing to turn the heart and the mind toward the sacred truth of who He is and who I am as his child.

He is LORD…Yahweh…Covenant God. Alpha and Omega…from the very beginning all the way to our eternal ending. All that resides in between is a life lived. Yours and mine. A history written before it begins. Ours is a resting between the extremes of what was, what is, and what is to come. The LORD bookends our existence, and this sacred truth, my friends, is enough to script our minds and our hearts with a lasting peace that will usher us into our next.

David understood about a five point pledge of faith. He gathered his from a stream on a hillside in Judea. Five smooth stones. Carefully selected and safely secured within his shepherd’s pouch, David would take that pledge into battle. It mattered not which stone he chose. Any of the five would suffice to deliver the intended blow to the enemy.

What mattered was his knowing that a stone’s faith was required.

It is a sacred knowing that matters to us as well, for any other type of battle fortification is likely to leave us bleeding where we stand.

Take a few moments to read our scripture focus for the day, 1 Samuel 17:33-47.

Man would try and fortify David with man’s best—a king’s tunic, a coat of armor, a bronze helmet, and a sword. They didn’t fit…didn’t work for this boy whose hands were accustomed to a staff and to a rod. Thus, David forsook man’s best and traded up for God’s best—a cloaking that had nothing to do with outward reinforcements but everything to do with an inward underpinning.

Faith. A five-stone belief in a God who had scripted David’s life for kingdom living.

We, too, have been scripted accordingly…to live within the kingdom that God has ordained for our walk. But when that walk is threatened, when the enemy shouts his disdain over our lives, we are prone to our wandering thoughts and our faithless hearts. We cast our stones aside in hopes of securing a better plan for keeping the enemy at bay. Instead of choosing to fight the enemy with faith, we sometimes choose…

To deny his existence.
To ignore his shouts.
To fall apart and cease to function.
To default toward addictions in order to soothe the pain.
To retreat within the walls of seeming safety (television, internet, music) only to discover that our walls also perimeter our Goliaths.
To isolate ourselves from the support of others.
To garner support from others to the isolation of God.
To rationalize like Eve… “Maybe God didn’t really say…”.
To _______________________________.

On and on. One layer of armor after another until we can no longer walk to battle because the load is too heavy and our flesh is too weak. No wonder we lay day before the giant. We are too burdened to battle. (Remember my son?)

If this is you at times, and I certainly understand that this is me, then God has a simple solution for our dilemma. He asks of us what he asked of boy David all those years ago.

To lay down our armor and to cloak ourselves with his.

With a five stone kind of faith that proclaims…

God is who he says he is. God can do what he says he can do. I am who God says I am. I can do all things through Christ. God’s Word is alive and active in me.

It is the right stone for a difficult fight. We are prone to other armoring, but God is prone to our victory. So when Goliath forges onto our battlefield with his might, God asks us to forge ahead with Him—the LORD Almighty. The one Name and the only Stone whose aim is always straight and whose truth is always on target.

He is the only Stone worthy of my pocket this day…worthy of my heart for always…and so I pray,

Arm me Father, with the faith of David. Victory comes, not with a weapon, but with a stone’s belief that rightly identifies your rule in the matter. The world’s armor isn’t a good fit with kingdom living. Lighten my load and cloak me with the truth of your Word, so that I might walk in full assurance of the outcome. You have settled the issue between victory and defeat, between life and death. Let me rest in that embrace this day. Amen.

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What armor are your prone to when facing the enemy? Why is “believing God” such a difficult embrace? Feel free to leave any thoughts by clicking on the word comment below. You can sign in as an anonymous donor if you don’t have a google account. I will be selecting a comment from all the comments at the end of this study for a prize. This is post #4 of 6.

Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

[i] Beth Moore, Believing God (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2002), 9.

Fighting to Win (part three): Understanding What’s At Stake


“‘And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.’” (1 Samuel 17:18, KJV).

How do thee, my brethren, fare this day? Fare thee well, or fare thee less? However thee fare, thou Father is aware, and his love for thee exceeds thy need. So thus, I invite thee to come and find thy Master’s feet and receive thy portion of his love unto thee.

Please read today’s scripture focus, 1 Samuel 17:14-32, in whatever version thee desireth!

I love the King James rendering of 1 Samuel 17:18. Sometimes the King’s English speaks with a rich eloquence that puts my mind to thinking and my heart to dreaming. David’s story is worthy of a dream or two. It certainly is worth our pondering, for it has much to teach us about the art of war. About the winning and losing of battles. About the gains and losses of confrontation.

For in every fight, something stands to be gained and something stands to be lost. Weighing the difference between the two is of paramount importance when kingdom business is at hand. Not every battle is ours to embrace, but every battle should be weighed in accordance with God’s divine perspective (part one). The enemy understands our propensity for a good fight. He’s perfected the lure and baited his hook with just enough intrigue and drama to engage our thoughts (part two). And if not checked, our thoughts can sometimes lead us into a war that we were never meant to fight.

So how do we know the difference? How do we know when the battle belongs to us and is worthy of our sacred participation? We start by doing just exactly what boy David did.

We listen to our Father.

“Now Jesse said to his son David, ‘Take this … for your brothers. Take along these … to the commanders of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.’” (1 Samuel 17:17-19).

David’s earthly father, Jesse, sent David to battle; not to fight but to check on the welfare of his brothers…to see how thy brethren were faring. They were faring poorly. Floundering in their fear, they took to their hiding, and when David was unable to secure the “assurance” that his father was looking for, David altered his plan. No longer would this be a mission of provision, but rather it would become a mission of kingdom priority…a father’s priority.

Assurance. The Hebrew transliterated word rubbah meaning “…a tangible sign of a current or soon-expected reality. It was used specifically in reference to an assurance of well-being brought from the battlefield.”[i]

The only tangible sign of a soon-expected reality was a stance of fear and dismay. And where there is fear…where there is dismay…the soon-expected reality is sure defeat. Thus David, rather than returning home without any pledge or assurance for his father, pushed the matter to a head. He postured himself for participation in the battle because David knew that…

Sometimes, one is called to battle because the welfare of the brethren is at stake.

David’s brethren? The Israelites. God’s flock. The sheep of his sacred pasture. The apple of his eye. They were the children of Promise, barely living within the pasturelands of Promise. Milk and honey were yesterday’s taste. Today’s palate was limited to a faithless trembling that swallowed difficult and soured the stomach.

The hearts of a nation laid themselves bare for the taking, and David was quick to recognize their nakedness.

“David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’ … ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.’” (1 Samuel 17:26, 32).

David entered the arena as a shepherd boy, the son of Jesse. But in one transforming moment, David refined his identity. He would retain his role as shepherd, but this time, as the son of his heavenly Father. Not only were the brethren not faring well, but the identity of his Father’s people stood to know fracture and disgrace at the hands of the enemy. David postured himself for participation in the battle because David knew that…

Sometimes, one is called to battle because the honor of a Father is at stake.

There you have it. Two good reasons to enter a battle with the enemy.

A brethren’s welfare. A heavenly Father’s honor.

There are other worthy reasons to find our fight, but these two offer us some perspective in the matter. David had no way of knowing what lie ahead for him as he loaded his father’s grain and bread and cheeses into his pack. He only knew that he had to go for the sake of his father’s assurance…for a tangible sign of a soon-expected reality. A reality that would eventually shout victory because his heavenly Father’s assurance went with him.

It, too, goes with us this day. You need to know this, for many of you are facing a battle of untold proportions. You are weighing the matter out upon the soil of your faith…hoping for a win but, perhaps, expecting a loss. You may be fighting for the welfare of the brethren…for your brothers and sisters. For your sons and daughters. For your family and for your church. You may be fighting for the honor of your Father. For his name. For his renown. For his truth and for his Word.

It is good to understand what leads us into battle, and as a woman who loves her brethren and who loves her God, I will always find my fight on behalf of them both. And so I ask you again…

How do thee, my brethren, fare this day? Fare thee well or fare thee less, you have a friend in me. You fight not alone. You fight with an ally who is privileged to enter the battle alongside you. Together, we will march in victory with our Father at the lead until he ushers us from this battlefield into our forever field. A spacious place of milk and honey. An easy swallow for eternity and well beyond. And so I pray…

“Lead on O king Eternal, The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest, Thy tents shall be our home.
Thro’ days of preparation, Thy grace has made us strong,
And now O King Eternal, We lift our battle song.

Lead on O king Eternal, Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper, the sweet Amen of peace.
For not with swords loud clashing, Nor roll of stirring drums,
With deeds of love and mercy, The heav’nly kingdom comes.

Lead on O King eternal, We follow not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning, Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted o’er us, We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest: Lead on, O God of might.”
[ii]

Amen.

As always,

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Please feel free to leave a comment. At the end of our study, I will enter all comments into a drawing for a give-away. If you have a special prayer request, please indicate within your comment or via my e-mail on the side-bar. You give me much joy, my blogging friends. God be close to you this weekend.

[i]Baker & Carpenter, “rubbah,” The Complete Word Study Dictionary Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), 6156.
[ii] Ernest Shurtleff, “Lead On, O King Eternal,” Then Sings My Soul Book 2 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 202-203.

(allrightsreserved, elaineolsen – 2008)

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