Posted by: Jo | August 27, 2015

A Joyous Occasion Filled With Love

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

(Revelation 19:7)

image We celebrated a joyous occasion this week with a family wedding. Weddings always are preceded with a flurry of preparations, weeks before, involving venues, food, invitations, and are also accompanied by pre-wedding worries. Will the weather cooperate? Here in Nth America we are in late summer, but the venue included a beautiful outside deck, what if it rains? The wedding party included a three year old little boy! Who could forecast what he would do? Parents of the bride are elderly, how will they cope? Dear little flower girl, will she be brave enough to be the first down the aisle? Truly, at the end of the day we were able to echo these words as the Lord richly blessed our day.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!

The Old Testament makes frequent references to the images of marriage and in the book of Isaiah we read how the Heavenly Father sees himself in the role of a bridegroom who rejoices over his bride. We, his people, are that bride and we are the recipients of that beautiful outpouring of his love which is a symbol of the most intimate of relationships which binds the Father and his beloveds together.

“…as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5)

Again the prophet, Hosea, records how deep is the Fathers’ love for us in terms of marriage vows that will never be broken;

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion, I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19 – 20)

image Jesus, Himself, chose the setting of a wedding celebration to perform his first miracle, a sign that the Heavenly Bridegroom had become one with his people. (John 2)

The most important wedding any of us will ever attend is yet to come and the Holy Spirit reveals this to the apostle, John, and commands him to write it down so the magnificence of this wedding will be etched on our minds and our hearts as we look forward to that glorious day;

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Revelation 19:7 – 8)

Just like any earthly wedding, invitations will be sent out inviting God’s people to join in to this most awesome celebration;

“…Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9)

Again, just like the earthly wedding, the invitation must be accepted and the recipient plan to be present. We sang a beautiful song in our Sunday service, entitled, WE ARE YOUR CHURCH and as our voices rose to a crescendo I felt we as a body of believers were answering, as the bride, accepting our Heavenly Bridegroom’s invitation to be his.

Who would ever want to miss out on that magnificent wedding supper?

Posted by: Jo | August 14, 2015

Admitting How Much We Need Him

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 4:19)

image Our worship service this last Sunday morning was filled with an incredible sense of oneness. We were singing one of my favourite contemporary songs, based on the old hymn, O, Lord How I need Thee, the modern version uses these words, every hour I need you, and as our voices rose together, I was surprised to realise the tall, young teenager beside me was wiping a tear from his eye and as I stole a look around at other members, raw emotion was etched upon many faces. I saw a wide range of ages from elderly men to young parents, grandmothers, business women, young people, but what was unifying us all was the realisation of how we all needed the Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that we were in a sacred place where we felt safe in expressing that emotion.

The world would tell us a different story even to confining the needy to a position where they are pitied or looked down upon. The world would tell our young people to strive to be self-sufficient, never admitting any weakness, constantly promoting the idea, you can make it on your own. God’s word has quite the opposite message. King David is a remarkable example of a mighty powerful ruler who acknowledged his complete dependence on God’s help and had no shame in admitting how much he relied on the grace and mercy of his Heavenly Father.

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.” (Psalm 142:1 – 2)

God accepts David’s humble acceptance of help by calling him A man after his own heart. so the Lord welcomes us all to share whatever is troubling us and loves it when we take him into our confidence, and we don’t have to pretend we have it altogether, admitting we need help is not a sign of weakness, but is actually a sign of wisdom to go to straight to the strongest source of help available to mankind.

When we realise our own neediness we become much more aware of the needy around us and are braver to admit to others how we need to lean on the Lord and as the song describes it, not a one off thing, but constantly every hour I need you, encouraging others to do the same.

One of my favourite verses on this subject is found in Hebrews which points out that we can confidently come to the Lord(the King James version says “boldly” come), not wondering if we should be bothering our Father about our own concerns, but expecting to be flooded by grace and mercy.image

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

I know the tears I witnessed through our Church’s song were an outward sign of deep thankfulness for such a loving, caring Saviour.

Posted by: Jo | August 7, 2015

How To Pray For Others

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

(Jeremiah 29:12)

  imageWe were watching, yet again, a tragedy unfold on the evening news and the person relaying the details finished his explanation with these words:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families

As I listened to this all too familiar phrase I wondered how meaningful it was and did it make the speaker feel better or did it comfort the bereaved at all, but perhaps just knowing someone cared was a small consolation to them, and then I pondered did the speaker actually stop and do what he had promised, Pray?

We as believers may have also slipped into uttering an also familiar phrase We will pray for you but do we follow through and devote time to do exactly that? Our topic for our sermon on Sunday was, “Understanding Mental Health And Spiritual Well Being”, and our speaker made us aware that mental health should not be a shameful or secret topic within our church family and we all could exercise our powerful privilege of being able to access the ear of the Heavenly Father through prayer, but how do we do that effectively and in so doing help people?

I have learnt through my spiritual journey that we can help people much more by offering to pray “with them” rather than “for them”. Allowing those in need to hear the prayers and coming before the Lord together is very powerful.image

When Paul was praying for others he wrote to tell them his prayers and urged new believers to pray for one another. His prayers are wonderful examples for us to follow.

Firstly: he always began with a thanksgiving for the people and thus affirming them as worthwhile children of God. (So important for those struggling with self-worth)

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:15 – 16)

Secondly: in his prayers he reminds them of the gifts given to all who love the Lord, again giving them something solid to hang on to amidst chaotic thoughts that make one uncertain.

“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” (1 Corinthians 1:7)

imageThirdly: Paul prays for wisdom and revelation about who Jesus is. A firm rock to stabilise one’s life.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)

Fourthly: he restores hope for those who so desperately need it.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of the glorious inheritance of the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18)

Fifthly: he asks for discernment for the best solution to any problem

“And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9 – 10)

Lastly: he prays for strength for those for whom he is praying.

“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father…” (Colossians 1:11 – 12)

imageWhat an incredible example for us to follow when we pray with others for them and what amazing blessings are poured out on both of us when we seek the Lord together.

Posted by: Jo | July 31, 2015

Anointed By The Oil Of Joy And Gladness

“You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God , your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

(Psalm 45:7)

Our sermon this Sunday was exploring the second last Psalm (133) in the series known as the The Songs Of Ascents. imageI felt our young minister would expound on the first verse about brothers living together in unity, and of course he did, but then he surprised me by an in-depth look at the reference to the anointing of Aaron by the precious oil.

“It is like the precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.” (Psalm 133:2)

This precious and expensive oil was not just a sprinkle on the top of the head, it was a real soaking of head and beard even running down over Aaron’s clothing and because of the ingredients, myrrh, cinnamon, fragrant cane, cassia and olive oil (Exodus 30:23 – 25) the recipient was left surrounded by an exquisite aroma.

This ceremony was originally reserved for priests serving in the temple, and perhaps we might have overlooked the incredible privilege we have been granted through Our Saviour, that we too are now considered to be part of a royal priesthood and so too become recipients of this anointing, so joy and gladness envelope our very being.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

The writer of Hebrews writes to assure the new believers that they have this anointing

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:9)

image And with this fragrant blessing comes a special purpose for us believers, who now carry this oil of gladness and joy with us wherever we go and Isaiah tells us how we can make use of it.

Firstly we can reach out to those who are poor in spirit who do not know the Lord. We can bind up the broken hearted, we can help those trapped by fear and evil and bring them freedom from that darkness, we can comfort those who grieve, we can bring beauty instead of ashes for those who are mourning we can bring praise instead of despair into a desperate situation (Isaiah 61:1- 3).

Being anointed gives one a sense of authority. We don’t have to ask, “What can I do to help?” We have been commissioned by the Holy Spirit to act as one of Christ’s ambassadors and bring with us joy and gladness for those around us who most need it. The other great benefit is for ourselves when we go through turbulent times, we can draw on that same anointing oil to ease our pain. The fragrance of knowing our Lord and Saviour spreads through our lives blessing us and others.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him, For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:14 – 15)

Posted by: Jo | July 24, 2015

Memories Keep Us Focused

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”

(Psalm 77:11 – 12)

image This week our family celebrated the birthday of our first born daughter and when it arrived my mind was flooded with memories of that special day and I remembered where we were living at the time and marvelled yet again at how she had survived in the hands of two inexperienced young people like us, who had left our own country and were living in London with no family to support us and all our friends being about the same age. Those same friends did support us and memories of their help still brings a rush of warm feelings and thankfulness when I relive those days in my mind. My thoughts about my first born made me think about another young mother who certainly had a much different situation than mine to contend with and yet we are told, she made a special effort to store up everything that happened that day in her mind, so the memories would be saved;

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Mary treasured all those miraculous signs that proved what the angel Gabriel had told her about this Son of the Most High. Those memories would sustain her and support her even through the dreadful crucifixion of her precious son.

One of the most important reasons to go over our memories, especially those troublesome, scary or sad times, is to recall how our Lord was able to guide us through those choppy waters.image Too often once we survive one of those experiences we tend to forget where the help came from and just give a big sigh of relief that we made it through. So firstly, we need to store firmly in our minds who the thanks are due to, and to keep remembering this so we can praise His Name and then secondly we need to draw upon that storehouse of memories to give us strength for the next time we are assailed by woes.

It is not only the bad times we need to store in our memory, remembering the joy and the love we exchange with our Heavenly Father keeps our relationship alive and vibrant by remembering the delight it brings us;

“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who take delight in them.” (Psalm 111:2)

Often the advice for couples in their marriage is to remember why they first fell in love with each other and to keep those memories alive by keeping them as vibrant thoughts. Good advice for us as well to never let our love for the Lord to grow cold and lifeless because his love for us will never change.

In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is portrayed as a craftsman watching the Creator forming the world and us. What a beautiful mental picture to store away in our memory, of the world and us being created to bring him delight.

“Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Proverbs 8:30 – 31)

image Filling our minds with memories of the powerful helper always at our side and then to remember how the Lord delights in us will certainly keep us focused and we don’t have to run to the computer or any other device, we can just sit quietly in his presence and allow the memories to flood in.

Posted by: Jo | July 17, 2015

The Sword of The Spirit – The Word of God

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

(Ephesians 6:17)

imageJust recently, my husband I were watching a documentary on the television, about an ancient order of Chinese monks, who, although they had diminished in number, still practised their handed down rituals from hundreds of years before. We watched in fascination as little boys were introduced to the intricate movements each one had to perfect in order to become a fully-fledged monk. The instructor was very strict; the feet had to be exactly how he had demonstrated, the head in line with a certain part of the body, the hands in the right position. We then witnessed the senior monks demonstrating these movements, now perfected, as they handled different types of weapons, their bodies moving as if one with what they were holding, and as these were instruments of war, they looked controlled and dangerous, but at the same time their beautiful precise movements made me think of ballet dancers. One section in particular showed their prowess with swords and as they began to move, again I got the impression that the sword and the man had become one.

While I was marvelling about this, I remembered Paul telling the Ephesians to take the sword of the Spirit to counteract the attacks of evil. He was not talking about a real weapon, but a more powerful force than anything man could contrive, the Word of God. The passage in Ephesians 6 (The Armour of God) lists six important parts of armour associated with the current soldier of the day and Paul links them with corresponding Christian spiritual warfare, reminding them they need this protection to ward off and protect them from evil. The first five parts of armour are related to protection from attacks, but the sixth and most powerful one is clearly a weapon not just to protect one, but to be used in action, not in passive resistance, but to be exerted with all its strength. The writer of Hebrews describes it like this;image

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any doubled edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

We often see God’s word as comforting, encouraging, full of love and of course our Heavenly Father wants us to be drenched in his love, but we too often forget the other side of absorbing his word into our very souls – its incredible power over evil. Our Christian walk can be undermined in very subtle ways, sometimes just in thoughts that creep into our minds, sometimes as one Pastor put it by “friendly fire” attacks from unlikely places and perhaps fro
m those we trusted, sometimes from events that we allow to consume us, sometimes our own egos get in the way and we listen to the wrong voices and the Lord’s voice becomes blotted out.

This is when we need to pull out the most powerful weapon of all


The way it is the most effective is, just like those monks I was watching, when we are so steeped in it we become as one with that precious word and we use it against any attack of the enemy. The psalmists knew where the word had to be planted.

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)


Posted by: Jo | July 10, 2015

Living What We Believe

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”

(Psalm 133:1)

image Our Home Group has just finished studying together, the letter to the Ephesians, and although the last chapter (Chapter 6) on the armour of God receives a lot of attention in articles and sermons, we all thought the most important chapter for us was Paul’s call to examine how we actually live out what we believe in our everyday day life, (Chapter 5). He presents it this way, what a challenge!

“Be very careful then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15 –16)

The book of Proverbs makes it very clear who the wise and the unwise are and frequently implores those who would be followers of the Lord to earnestly seek wisdom and not to be led astray by the foolishness of the world. We who know the Lord have an invaluable store of God’s wisdom ready and available for the asking whenever we need direction.

“Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” (Proverbs 2:9 – 10)

When we are listening to, or reading God’s word, it is so easy to be in complete agreement with every word, so easy on a Sunday morning to be filled with a desire to please our Heavenly Father, so easy in our Bible Study group to be with one accord with faithful believers, but the big question arises when we begin our daily routine, How do we live what we believe?

image Paul begins within our own family and addresses relationships with husbands and wives, children and parents and his section on slaves and masters equates well with the modern work place. One sermon I listened to on this topic pointed out that we can slip into having two distinct personalities if we are not careful; our spiritual life we display when we are with Christians and the life we display to the world.

When I was a young school teacher it was imperative that before starting any lesson, a detailed plan as how I was going to present it, would be carefully thought out then written down in point form to keep me on track and help me not to be distracted from the task at hand. I have been thinking about this topic, of living what we believe, and thought we as followers of Jesus need a daily plan to tackle the day before we begin.

I found such a plan in Psalm 25 which I use as a daily prayer before starting the day. David knew that of course Our Heavenly Father would help us to be everything he wants us to be, so his prayer features these major ways that the Lord can help us; Showing us his way for the day, (not straying from his word), teaching us to stay on his path (not the world’s), guiding us in what is true (not being misled by those around us)

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4 – 5)

imageWhen we are armed with that of sort of help every day, living what we believe becomes a whole lot easier.

Posted by: Jo | July 3, 2015

Cry Out In The Darkness

“You, O Lord, keep my light burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

(Psalm 18:28)

image There have been lots of criticisms lately about social media and the harm it can produce if not properly monitored, but it also has another side of connecting friends and family and as I grow older, I find it a great source of not only keeping in touch with my friends, but of sharing innocent sweet moments of family, and also I often find it a mood changer by making me laugh at the clever witticisms of others. One friend often sends me quite thoughtful statements and the one I received this week made me nod in agreement. It went like this;

Body:“I am very tired, time to lie down and sleep

Mind:No not yet, we have to go over all those mistakes you made today and those foolish words you wished you had not said. Then we have to start worrying about how much you ate and how much you now weigh. Then we have to worry about your job and all those bills that are adding up. Then we have to go over yet again all the wrong decisions you made in the past…

As I read it I though no wonder we find this described in God’s words as “the terror of the night” (Psalm 91:5) and how often we can relate to staring into the night as worry and fear become accentuated by the darkness around us.

image There is a beautiful selection in the Book of Psalms known as, The Songs of Ascents, 120 – 134, which the pilgrims sang on their way to Jerusalem to worship. I like the message in the last Psalm (134) as the last of the pilgrims leave the temple they know that the Levite priests on duty will have to stay and guard the temple during the night and offer this advice to keep the terrors of the night away;

“Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.” (Psalm 134:1 – 2)

What wonderful advice for us still today. What a powerful way to stop worry invading our minds. What a great reminder that he who can dispel any darkness is right there with us just waiting for us to cry out to him.

“…I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

Darkness of all different sorts can descend on us at any time of the day, not only at night time. Fear and worry can obliterate joy so that gloom encircles all that we attempt to do and life becomes a mechanical set of activities. We can even forget that help is at close hand as the worries cloud our vision. image This is when we most urgently need to turn to God’s word. Listen to his invitation and cry out to him for help. He will hear and lighten the darkness for his children.

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” (Psalm 145:18 – 19)

Posted by: Jo | June 26, 2015

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

(Hebrews 12:2)

image Our congregation in our local church is experiencing an unsettling, very disturbing time of upheaval, in which all the members have become divided about the major decisions being made. Many of us were feeling bewildered and lost, so both my husband and I were pleased to join a group who decided to meet to pray together, during the prayer time one of the members had a wakeup call for us all. She had suddenly realised we were focusing so much on the problem at hand we had forgotten to focus on Jesus himself, “the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) What a relief to abandon the problem to him. What a relief to let go. What a relief to stop and listen to that small voice instead of the loud voices of dissension racing through our minds. We had allowed the problem to distract us so much we had taken our eyes of Jesus.

Later I was thinking of how easily one can be distracted in all sorts of life pursuits, in particular while driving, and we read that one of the major causes of road accidents are now caused by distracted drivers who are using all sorts of electronic devices while they drive, from cell phones to lap tops. The list goes on from ladies applying make up to pouring coffee to eating lunch and being distracted leads to lack of concentration and imageoften results in dangerous driving and accidents.

Our Christian walk is no different and distractions that cause us to take our eyes away from the Lord can also lead to dangerous situations. David knew only too well that life produces many traps that can snare us so easily, if we are trusting ourselves to solve them without consulting the Lord to direct us;

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:15)

Our prayer time also revealed that concentrating on what we perceived were others’ shortcomings was a sure way of distracting us and losing our focus yet again on our “perfecter of our faith” who warned us;

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no intention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

So again we heard the Lord’s message for us all for any division that divides his loved ones.

Repentance Forgiveness

Whatever situation is causing us grief, being humble enough to allow the Lord to show us where we might be part of the problem brings about incredible healing and no matter what any of us may be embroiled in from family  problems/ neighbours/ work colleagues fixing our eyes on Jesus is the one sure way to see things his way.image

“Show me your ways, O, Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4 – 5)

Posted by: Jo | June 19, 2015

The Key To The Treasure In Store For Us

“He will be a sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”

(Isaiah 33:6)

image This last week one of our granddaughters turned twenty one and as I was thinking back to when I turned twenty one, memories came flooding back into my mind about what in Australia, was a very momentous milestone. This was the age you became an adult and were able to vote for your country’s leaders, you were now officially considered to be a responsible member of the community and sometimes as part of the celebrations you were very formally given the keys to the house and everyone would sing that silly old English song, “I’ve got the keys of the door, never been 21 before” Today children consider themselves adults long before turning twenty one and birthday milestones don’t have as much weight as they once did.

The importance of keys, though, is still noted in our present society, and the word is often used by motivational speakers in these phrases, “the key to success is… the key to presenting yourself lies in… the key to a successful launch is…” The formal handing over of the home that has just been purchased always takes the form of presentation of keys, allowing access to the new owner.

So when the Lord speaks through Isaiah, to us, about that important key that allows us access to all the treasures of our Heavenly Father, we stop and listen very carefully. Especially the word “treasure” has great meaning for us. Famous childhood stories would end with the dramatic finding of that old, rusty box, securely locked, and only the hero or heroine would have that precious key to unlock the treasures therein and we would all hold our breath as the lid slowly opened to reveal strings of pearls and diamonds etc.

We don’t have to go on long perilous journeys to find the treasure that the Lord Jesus Christ has for us. He graciously provides access for us. He is the key to the richness of life with him, acknowledging him as our Saviour, opens that treasure trove of his love.

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God , namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2 – 3)

Sometimes we forget that this beautiful store of knowledge and understanding is readily available to us and foolishly decide to rely on our own understanding in dealing with life’s problems, this is when we need to take heed of these words in the book of Proverbs and vow to eagerly accept the Lord’s gracious gift.

“…and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:3 – 5)


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