Category: Inspiration


My resolution

2013

I sit here facing 2013 and find myself overwhelmed.

As tears fall onto the keyboard I wonder what God wants for me next year and as I do every year, I create a list in my mind of resolutions; things I long to do more of, to do better, to change.

 

But what is it that God wants me to do more of, to do better, to change?  What is His will for me?

 

Oh, I long to glorify Him through my life:

How I spend time with and learn more about Him.

The way I treat my husband and children.

What I do for my health.

What I do with my writing.

The way I act toward the people God placed in my life.

How I use our finances and resources God gives me.

What I think about and what I do when no-one’s watching.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”   Revelation 4:11

 

So, I guess, this year I will focus on listening.  Seeking God through His Word and in prayer…as well as through a little sweat on the treadmill.

Psalm 143:8

GOD'S ADDENDUM:
Interestingly enough...I spied God shortly after publishing this blog post, when I opened my email to today's free eBook:

Found: God's Will

 

Related articles:
How do I know what God’s will is for my life?   (christiananswers.net/home.html)
Give me more John Wesley   (blogs.markschuler.com/abrigo/)
Free WORDart files   (papercraftmemories.com/)
What Keeps Ya Goin?   (godoreen.com/)
David C Cook Free eBooks   (davidccook.com/)

Merry Christmas

Magic

 

“for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:11

When I was about 12 years old I went with a friend over to her Aunt’s house, but before we went in my friend warned me that her Aunt was a “born again Christian.”

That phrase intrigued me, but I didn’t understand it.  What was clear was that “those people” were to be avoided and I needed to be very cautious around them.

I met her Aunt and she didn’t seem weird or different to me at all.  The only difference I saw was that she had a picture on her wall of Jesus Christ.  That’s it…

Prince of Peace

…but what I learned from that moment could have had eternally devastating consequences.

A couple years ago, going into the holiday season I had a pretty poor attitude actually.  I very much enjoy singing Christmas carols; don’t get me wrong the harmonies and chords put together are absolutely divine.  But at that time, I was being filled by and adored singing praise to my God through the heartfelt lyrics contemporary worship songs offered.  The thought of reverting back to those age-old and over-sung Christmas carols just irritated me.  But they are fun to sing so I figured I could put up with it for that month or so and very much looked forward to when we would go back to singing songs of real praise to our Lord.

Boy do I have a lot to learn…and Praise God for changing my heart and opening my ears!

One day I heard the carol “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Hark! The herald angels sing.

How many times have I heard that song…in fact, how many times have I sung it?!!  But that time around …which I’m sure was about the 85,369th time… I heard a phrase I never heard or I guess I never paid attention to before:

“…born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.”

There it is!

The reason Christ came…to give us “second birth” or in other words, so we could be born again!!

Being a “born again Christian” is not something to avoid, it is something to achieve…for Goodness sake, we SING SONGS about it!!

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’   John 3:3-7 (NIV)

Had that phrase been explained to me back when I was 12 years old, my life could’ve been so different… and I might have avoided some very poor choices.  I obviously wasn’t ready to hear it then and thankfully God had other plans.  I certainly would not be the person I am today had I been saved at a younger age and as I look back now I can see all of the “born again Christians” God did use and continues to use to point me to Him and I praise Him for each one.

born again

Who is He using in your life?
Better yet, how is He using YOU?

 

The company I work for has an AMAZING Christmas party every year for its employees.  The doctors seriously go above and beyond to give us the best experience…from where it’s held, to the food and drinks served, to the entertainment, even to the gifts (or prizes) given.

2011 was no exception.

There were over 130 prizes available ranging from big screen tv’s and the latest electronics, to $25 gift cards and everything in between!!  Granted, there are several hundred employees, so the chances (although not bad odds) are pretty slim in getting the prize you really want.  Especially for those of us who don’t win anything.

Ever.

Not even for a free Pepsi in those twist off cap games, or a stinkin’ pie in the McDonald’s monopoly game, or even the highest % off coupon at Kohl’s.  What is that?!!

just not a winner

In anticipation of the party that year employees were given a glimpse to what might be available for prizes and the one thing I saw, just like the year before, that I really wanted was an Apple iPad.  I absolutely do not need one and there was no way we would EVER spend the money or even be able to afford one ourselves.  So I continued to pray each year that if it be in God’s will, He would allow me to win.

For the 2010 Christmas party, I asked my Mom to pray and her response was “No, you don’t pray like that.”  But the more I bugged her about it, she finally gave in and said…“well, maybe a little prayer.”

I didn’t win.

gosh darn it

Then for the 2011 party I asked her to pray again and she said…  “I think we tried this last year and you didn’t get any of the big prizes.  So, probably not supposed to pray for good Christmas presents.  I suggest we just keep the fingers and toes crossed this year.”

The only thing that entered my mind at that moment was the truth from the Bible that says we are to pray specifically…

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”  1 John 5:14-15

Now, I know this does not mean that God gives us everything we ask for.  In fact the Bible warns us to be aware of our hearts and motives…

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”   James 4:3

But I also know that my God wants to bless us abundantly.   He takes great joy in and loves to see us excited, delighted, and overwhelmed by Him.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”    Zephaniah 3:17

So I continued to pray and ask for something frivolous and unnecessary, because my God is great and loving like that.

 

If it’s part of His ultimate plan, God will give us the desires of our heart…

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”   Psalm 37:4

and He longs to thrill us by providing even more than we thought possible…

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”   Ephesians 3:20

 

So… how did my Christmas party turn out that year, you ask??

Well, guess what I won?!

iPad

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. ”    John 14:12-15

 

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God loves you this much…

Remember last year when I went to my office Christmas party and God provided an iPad?  Have I not shared that story with you yet??

Wow.  That’s one of my favorites.  Ok, I’ll have to post it…  iSpy God.

But I digress.

Last year I won an iPad at my Christmas party.  Yes, seriously.  Awesome company to work for, right?!!  Well, I never expected to win again this year.  Sure, I was hoping… but never imagined I would.

I was wrong.

I won a … well here, let me just show you!

JVC 42" LCD TV

A 42″ LCD TV of all things!!  Oh my word, talk about shocker!!

I won and won big!!  Again!

I’ve only been working at DHA for three years now, and won prizes at two of the Christmas parties and not just any prizes… the big ones!!  Now why did I win when my co-workers, some of whom have worked there for more than 20 years, haven’t won squat?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that God is a little bit crazy and when He provides for us, He does it in ways that are inconceivable, unconventional and surprising otherwise we wouldn’t notice or make a big deal about it.  Sadly, many of us don’t anyway.

Did I need that tv?  Absolutely not.  So what did I do with it you ask?

Well, I sold it.

whaaaa??

Whaaaa??

Yeah.  This has caused some problems, apparently, at work with people being upset that I sold the prize I won.  Well, with Christmas coming up and a bank account that’s negative, I felt it was a smarter plan than hanging that thing on my bedroom wall.  Granted, had I been a better steward of my money my account would not have gone negative, that certainly is not the way God wants us to be responsible financially… but I praise Him for providing a way to help.

I’m not able to buy lots of gifts now so no, selling the tv didn’t actually help a whole lot as far as Christmas goes, but my account is no longer in the red and that is glorifying to God.

Yes, God allowed me to win an awesome prize and I agree with Lisa from this past season of Survivor when she said…

“I don’t think God cares about who wins Survivor, has a favorite football team, favorite country…  I think He cares about us each individually.  Does He care that Denise won?  Yes, because He cares about Denise.  Does He care that I didn’t win?  Yes, because He cares about me.”  -Lisa Welchel

God loves you.  He loves how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, what you’re winning and what you’re not.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”   Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Don’t underestimate God’s love for you…

God's love

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”   Matthew 5:4

September 11th attacks

The attacks of September 11th have been the most devastating thing that has happened in my life.  My heart still hurts thinking of those who lost their lives, both the victims and those in the armed forces fighting to keep terrorists at bay and I know our world has forever been changed.

I fully admit that I am ignorant to what is happening out in the world.  I am blessed to live in a country that does not have desolate lands, a lot of poverty, disease, hunger or war on the street and I haven’t known a lot of tragedy in my life.

I haven’t dealt with abuse, don’t come from a family of divorce, haven’t lost a parent, have not been sick, never miscarried or lost a child.  Sure, I’ve lost grandparents but they lived long, full, happy lives and of course pets…but I can’t call flushing a dead goldfish down the toilet real loss.

dead goldfish

I’ve experienced job loss and financial hardship but have never personally experienced anything that shook me to the core.

I haven’t written about any of the heartless massacres that have taken place over the last many years.  So many grievous, heart-wrenching and unfathomable acts of violence that have been carried out in places of learning, entertainment, recreation, healing, solace and safety.  Places all of us visit and had no second thoughts about allowing our children or loved ones to do the same.

Of course each one of these tragedies have affected me; shocked me, sickened me and caused me to question humanity, but they never quite hit home.  The Dark Knight Rises movie shooting caused me to stop and gawk in disbelief, questioning what people in this world are thinking and the tragedy that happened at a Sikh Temple only a couple hours away from our home saddened me and I prayed for those families affected by it, but I carried on with life.

Even this past week at a mall in Oregon confused me and made me wonder… but honestly I shrugged it off, “That won’t happen here,” I thought.

But what happened yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Hold them tight

Yesterday was different.  They were children.  Children!

This one hit home.

 

I don’t know why God gives and takes away.  Why He allows terrible heartache and trials in one life and not others.  Why He provides gifts and blessings for one and nothing for another.

“Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him?”   Isaiah 40:13

But I do know that God’s ways are best, His plan is best, His love never fails and He is still in control.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”   Romans 8:28

Hold them tight...

Last night I held my babies tight.  I cried while holding them in my arms… so very thankful that I could.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”   1 John 4:4

 

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shhh

I have a confession to make.

I can not keep a secret.  Seriously, it is pure torture!!

I just helped my parents order gifts for the kids for Christmas.  Gifts that the kids will absolutely go ga-ga over!  These are THE GIFTS; the ones they continue hinting at, the ones they’ve been talking about for months, the ones they never dreamed they’d get, never thought they’d see, never imagined they’d hold…

I am having such a hard keeping it secret!!  I am so darn excited, I’m just bursting!!

I want to talk about it, I want to share it, I want to tell someone, ANYONE…

Crazy excited

But there is a secret that I have been known to keep.  The best secret.  The one I should share but I zip my lips, I hold my tongue.

The Good News of Jesus Christ.

Why am I not bursting at the seams over what Christ did for me?

Why aren’t I just as excited to tell someone… ANYONE… about God’s saving grace that I can’t keep quiet?

Zip Lip

Why aren’t I?

God offers us an amazing gift.  A gift that we will go ga-ga over.  A gift that we always long for, hint at, the one that we can’t stop thinking about.  A gift that we all desperately want but think we will never get.

Love…

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”   Romans 5:8

Forgiveness…

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9

Freedom…

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”   John 8:36

Peace…

“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”   Revelation 21:4

Joy…

“The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”   Psalm 19:8

Beauty…

“…THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”   1 Corinthians 2:9

Life…

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”   1 John 5:13

 

We can have a burden for the lost; an excitement to share the change and promises God has made in and given to us, but we must ask for it.

It is very easy to grow cold in our longing to share what Christ did.  The evil one makes sure of that.  He certainly does not want us sharing our faith and changing hearts, so he plants seeds of doubt and fear in us to turn us from sharing the hope of Christ with others.

Ignore those whispers!

Don’t let the evil one steal God’s thunder!  Pray for courage, pray for a burden and let God work.

helping hand

Heavenly Father, your Word promises that You are always with me.  Give me a burden for those who don’t know you, the boldness to approach them and the words to say.  Please prepare hearts and guide my steps.  Oh God I praise You for the change You’ve made in me, please fill me with a desire for the lost and allow me to share You with them.

 

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Mentor

As many of you know, I mentor a young lady named Hayley.  I’ve written about her before in my posts:  Watercolor Blessings  and  Stand up.  We’ve been meeting now for almost a year and although I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing when we began to meet…surprisingly I have been doing something right.

I don’t know how that happened…obviously God is VERY MUCH HANDS ON in this relationship because believe me, I am a huge mess and certainly NOT tooting my own horn here.  I am very capable of and am probably causing serious permanent damage to this poor, beautiful girl, so praise God He knows how to shut my mouth and offer discernment!!

Poor Hayley.

But…I was asked by my pastor to speak, along with some other people, in a sermon this past Sunday called:  “I’m going to get serious about my faith!”  from his “Next Year’s Going to be Different” series.

Different topics were covered: Prayer, Devotions, Discipleship, Evangelism, Memorization, etc… and he asked me to speak on Mentoring.  I was stunned to say the least.  “But I don’t really know what I’m doing!!” I said.  “I might be totally messing Hayley up!!”  He assured me he still wanted me to speak and suggested that perhaps I do some research on the topic.

Y’know what I found??

It seems that even though I am unsure, that I question why on earth God called me to mentor Hayley; What have I to offer when there are so many wiser, smarter, calmer, kinder, gentler and much more qualified women in the church than me? that He gave me reassurance.

What God has taught me through mentoring Hayley is that being a mentor is not the image I had in my head of the I’m-so-wise-and-holy-you-will-learn-amazing-and-wonderful-spiritual-truths-from-me teacher…

mean teacher

Because yeah, I am faaaar from that…

But instead, all I need to offer is a heart for God and my friendship.

As I researched, He led me to a great article How Christian Woman Can Mentor and Be Mentored, which reiterated that exact point.

Of course, being a mentor is a scary thing…

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”   James 3:1

but God calls each one of us to it…

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”   Titus 2:3-5

So I encourage you.

We can be mentored at any age…I have several women in my life whom I look up to, respect tremendously and go to when I need advice or have a question about something.  We don’t meet regularly and most of them probably don’t realize that they are mentoring me, but they offer wisdom, understanding and clarity when I need it.

If you think you aren’t qualified to mentor someone, kick that thought right out of your head.  If you are asked a question that you don’t know an answer to, find someone who does.  If you don’t know what to say, ask God to give you the words.  Just open your heart, admit your failures, love unconditionally and I assure you, you will be blessed by it.

Hayley is nearly 25 years younger than me.  Uff…that’s a tough pill to swallow.  But what I have learned from her through this unlikely relationship God brought together is more valuable to me than I can even explain.

She is a gem and I am so blessed to be called her mentor…her friend.

Friends

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”   2 Timothy 3:16

I so totally relate to many of the women in the Bible…  and not the pretty, inspiring, good traits but the ugly, selfish and prideful ones.

Eve

(Genesis 2)…allowed the devil to convince her that she’s not happy, she needs more, God is not enough… PLUS she likes the look of food so much that she can’t control herself!!  Boy, can I relate to that, just get me around some brownies…Eve

How often do I act on the evil one’s lies…focusing on that which I “can’t have” as being better than what God has already given!!  Doubting that God’s plan is best?!!

Father, give me a greater understanding of your original plan for our world.  Help me to envision its beauty so I might live with a constant awareness that you intend to restore paradise to all who belong to you.  May I surrender every sin and every sorrow to you, trusting that you will fulfill your purpose for my life.*

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”   John 1:16

 

Naomi

(Book of Ruth)… her anger & bitterness toward what has been taken away…  Oh boy, don’t get me started about my “poor me” attitude.Ruth and Naomi

How often do I focus on my troubles, my woes…how often do I ask to be called “Marah”??

Lord, thank you that Your Word promises You will restore us whether in this life or with You in eternity.  Please help me stop focusing on what has been taken and instead on Your goodness, Your promise, Your plan.

“You who have shown me many troubles and distresses Will revive me again, And will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.”   Psalm 71:20

 

Adulterous Woman

(John 8:3)…caught in the act of adultery but where’s the man?!! Seriously, it takes two…  Jesus calls out those condemning her, forgives her and calls for her to turn from her ways!!woman caught in adultery

How often do I re-visit old sins?  How often do I have to repent and turn back to Christ??

Lord, thank you that your forgiveness covers all sin.  Please help me make good choices; turning from my old self and living in a way that is pleasing to You.  When and if I do fall back to my old ways, please make it clear to me and remind me that only through Your sacrifice am I made new.

“knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin”   Romans 6:6

 

Sarah

(Genesis 17)…The Lord appears to Abraham telling him Sarah will bear a child.  Sarah, who is almost 90 years old, overhears and laughs.  Sadly I have also been known to laugh at God and think “Impossible!”old woman laughing

How often do I question God’s timing and doubt His plan for me? 

Father, thank you for loving me despite the fact that my soul still contains shadows that sometimes block the light of your Spirit.  As I grow older, may I trust you more completely for the dreams you’ve implanted in my soul, the promises you’ve made to me.  Like Sarah, may I be surrounded by laughter at the wonderful way you accomplish your purpose despite my weakness.*

“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.”   Psalm 130:5

 

Lot’s Wife

(Genesis 19)… her family is spared from the judgment and destruction that falls upon the sinful city of Sodom.  As they flee, they are told “Do not look back, do not stop…” but Lot’s wife can’t help herself.
(Has anyone else wondered about the location of the Dead Sea?  Mmmm-hmmm, interesting.)Lot's wife looked back

How often do I look back with longing of what used to be instead of running toward the forgiveness and promises laid before me?

Lord, you call me to live in the world without embracing the ways of the world.  Help me to live in a way that preserves my freedom to follow you wherever and however you lead.  If I should leave behind a monument, may it be a reminder to others of faith and not foolishness.*

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”   John 14:27

 

So often people think the old testament and the Bible as a whole, for that matter, is full of stories that don’t relate to our world and our lives today.  But as I read through it and see myself so clearly in so many of these stories, I am reminded and comforted that God will use such selfish messes like me for His good and to fulfill His work here on earth.

Praise Him for creating us, loving us and using us!

 

*prayers taken from Women of the Bible Devotional

Most of you have heard, I’m sure, Angus T. Jones’ recently aired disgust over the show he currently works for: Two and a Half Men.

 

He is quoted saying things like:

“I am on Two and a Half Men, and I don’t want to be.”

“Please stop watching it.  Please stop filling your head with filth.”

I’ve only seen the show a couple times and honestly never saw it all the way through, but I was a Jon Cryer fan (aaaaahhh, Duckie) so I gave it a chance.  The profanity and sexual innuendos were enough to know it wasn’t a show worth my time plus I didn’t like that kid.

Two and a Half Men

The character, Jake, that Angus played was disrespectful, snotty, arrogant and rude and I couldn’t stand watching him.

Several years ago my husband managed an entertainment company here in Madison allowing him close contact with the manager of the same entertainment company in Los Angeles where Angus frequented.  From the stories told about Angus, it confirmed my dislike for the kid.  In real life he treated people the way his character Jake did on the show: he expected everyone to cater to him and him alone.

Granted, I’m sure it didn’t help that this child actor made millions per season and therefore has only known his entire life that he can have whatever he wants.  But still…money shouldn’t have that kind of power over a person.

So when I saw this new found change in Angus, I was skeptical to say the least.  His past actions had satisfactorily proven he was self-centered and proud.

But aren’t we all??

How proud was I before Christ changed me?  Yeeaaahhhh…

I am excited and quite impressed actually, to see that Angus has made such a turn around.  Especially coming from a place of incredible power through fame and money…

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”   1 Timothy 6:10

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”   Mark 10:25

love of money

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”   Matthew 6:24

Our family has so often struggled with money, especially since choosing to live for Christ so many years ago.  When Jax and I were first married, we both worked full time jobs, made quite a significant amount of money together and did whatever we pleased.  Although we had both given our hearts to Christ…we acted more like fair weather fans, not true followers (see Kyle Idleman’s book Not a Fan).

I now know why God has not given us excessive amounts of money.  We have proven to be poor stewards of money in the past so when He forced us to rely fully on Him for it, our eyes were opened to what truly is His and allowed us to see Him working clearly in our lives.  Now that is a gift…definitely not fun, but truly a blessing.

 

So the hang up I have with Angus’ recent statements is this; if the show is such “filth” and if he truly “doesn’t want to be on it,” then why is he?

I understand that he signed a contract but I’m guessing he signed it within the last year after his conversion and new found faith.  Even if there is a breech of contract, I’m guessing the $350 thousand he makes per episode and his estimated $15 million net worth (source: Celebrity Net Worth) would probably cover the penalty cost were a breech of contract to take place.

Although should he stay… what a unique witnessing opportunity he has to those on the show as well as those watching!!

I don’t know.  Only time will tell whether Angus truly is a follower of Christ and what his next move is.  I won’t start watching the show but I am now a fan of Angus and pray he continues to make good decisions.  I can only imagine the trials he will be facing in the coming days…

 

See Angus’ testimony:

 

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