Addicted to Emails

I own a Blackberry – or maybe I should say that it owns me. When it rings as a cell phone I answer it (most times). When it beeps to tell me I have an appointment in ten minutes I drive to the designated place. When it signals a download of emails (it checks every ten minutes) then I most often look to see who needs what and how soon. Am I addicted or just trying to keep on top of my busy world and be effective?

Interesting statistics came in the other day. The question was: “Where are you when you check in on your portable device (in my case a Blackberry) and check your emails?”
39% in a bar or club
50% driving
67% in bed in their pajamas
15% in Church (note that one pastors – that teen with his head down is most likely text messaging)
59% in the bathroom
34% at happy hour
38% in a business meeting
(Source: AOL mail’s E-Mail Addiction Survey)

Are we addicted to this instant communication world in which we live? Are we so dependent upon hearing from others all the time that we must rush to our mobile devices and stay connected almost 24/7? Is there anything such as silence and solitude in people’s lives any more?

For years I have functioned with a need for inner calm and knowing (sensing) God’s peace that passes all understanding. I am an introvert so I need my quiet and uninterrupted time to recharge my personal internal batteries. So, I make sure every day that the Blackberry is turned off for a period so that I can recharge and refresh. I am a believer and so every day I need time with the Lord and with His Word as found in the Bible and so I turn the Blackberry off for a period of time each day so that I can have an uninterrupted time with the Lord. And, I appreciate time with one or another family member each day (I have a large family and so it takes several weeks to get around to chatting with everyone one-on-one) so during that time the Blackberry is set to “do not disturb/meeting” setting so that it does not ring, vibrate, or click at me.

Of course, that is annoying for some who believe that an email sent is an email received, read – and therefore answered. So, when several days later (alright I admit it – several weeks later) when I finally spend a day catching up on several hundred emails they are often “vocal” that they were not able to get ahold of me instantly. Some believe that I should be available by phone 20 hours a day … and so are somewhat preturbed when I am not instantly there answering the phones … or returning the call after hearing their message.

I know I have an attitude but here is how it works in my life. I figure that I bought this thing and pay a monthly charge to keep it and all the other electronic things functioning (home phone, home office phone, fax line, cable television, high-speed internet, wireless internet as we have 5 computers hooked together in this one of three office structures I work with, and phone system on my Blackberry, 2 other office cell phones connected within my system, a cell phone based in Ukraine, a toll-free 866 phone number….) and so because I “own it” and pay for it I have the right to turn it off or simply ignore it. It does not own me – I own it. I do not have to do what it is demanding of me. It is there to help me and I’m not here to help it.

So, I have this love-hate relationship with this modern technology. I love what it can do for me and the ministries I am involved in. I hate its constant demanding of my time and energy. And, I spend time helping people to understand that I really don’t have to answer every call or every email right away – and that it is okay to prioritize one’s life and the time available on any given day to accomplish tasks in some order of importance. It also takes time to help people understand that I am not shutting them out or ignoring them – it is simply that I only have so much time and so much energy and so much brain capacity (yes, I admit it, I have limitations) and therefore can only do so much in any given day. They don’t, for the most part, understand.

Now, I admit, that I am slow in returning calls and answering emails. There is just so many other things that make demands on my time… including the need for a daily time with the Lord and a daily time to plug in and recharge my personal batteries as an introvert. I admit that emails are not high on my priority lists; neither are the phones. I admit that I like talking with people one-on-one over a coffee or a Diet Pepsi (Coke) and that personal contact receives top priority over these other more high-tech methods of communicating in our modern world.

Anyone remember when letter writing was the mode of communicating and sometimes it took weeks or months before letters were received and responded to and that was okay?

So, I like the things that modern telecommunications allows me to do – but I am most certainly not addicted to it. I can and do turn it all off and shut it all down frequently and simply go for a quiet walk with the Lord and my puppy numerous times during any given day. And, I start each day in my study (separate from my office) where there are no phones or modern communication equipment (and the laptop I journal and write on is not connected to the email or internet structures) so that I am removed totally from the world of instant access.

I am not addicted!

Now Is the Time to Give More Not Less

We hear of multi-million dollar – correction a multi-trillion dollar bailout both in Canada and in the United States. Wall Street received a $700 billion bailout while one Wall Street investment broker has defrauded his clients of literally billions of dollars. Car markers are being bailed out instead of letting capitalism take it natural course forcing them into bankruptcy and thus giving them an opportunity to reappear in a new and more viable form. Yet, little has been said on the news media (at least the ones I watch and read) about how this economic downturn that is now being officially called a depression (not recession) is effecting the local church. Until now, that is.

These statistics are for last November – by the Barna Group – and so are a bit old and things may be considerably worse. The title was “Economy Takes Toll on Giving to Church”. The simple statistics… One in 5 (20%) of United States households had cut back their givings
22% of Americans has stopped giving to churches and religious centers
19% cut their giving by up to 20%
17% cut their giving by half (50%)

This is fairly normal. For many – and it has been said often over the years – the Church is the last thing added to the list of monthly expenses or obligations when things are going well and the first thing to be removed when things are going poorly. They are going poorly for many.

Overseas it is much worse. In some nations that I am in touch with regularly there are no bailouts for companies – they just close their doors. The economy is not getting a kick-start by the government (which may be a good thing because it does not seem to be working). There are no social structures like Employment Insurance, welfare, low-cost housing, support for single moms and battered wives. Each man, woman and child is on their own.

Knowing what is happening elsewhere due to the world-wide economic conditions makes one less likely to complain here. And, at least for me and the church I attend, to increase what we are giving so as to be able to help those we know working for the Kingdom of God overseas in nations that being hit far harder than anything we have seen here so far.

So, this is a time to give more – not less; a time to cut back on some of the extras (yes, we really do have a lot of extras we could do without) so we can give more to those who don’t have the basics yet. We should be increasing our giving to the work of the Kingdom and to missions overseas as now is a good time to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ out there where it will be heard and seen – and this takes people and money. As others are cutting back, we who believe that God is our source and not the economy, should not be giving less – at the least we should maintain our previous level of giving and, at best, increase it as we trust God.

In the midst of this economic downturn – depression, mess, disaster – we are hoping people will be more open to hearing some Good News. We are hoping that as the god called “money” fails people and security and comfort are no longer taken for granted by many – that people will be open to hearing what Jesus has accomplished for them on the Cross of Good Friday and be being bodily raised from the dead that first Easter Sunday.

A Typical Day

It is Monday afternoon and I am on the road and have a few minutes to think and to ponder. Already today I have been dealing with some concerns that have arisen in Ukraine – resources that were mailed months ago and “gone missing” and the struggle to find them; funds that have been transferred by wire and have not arrived after a week and declared “missing in action (transit)” which is a new one for me; prayer for Miroslav who handles the Ukraine side of my ministry as he travels to the country of Moldova to teach in a Christian institute and preach in two different churches.

Locally – issues with my web page; blogs written for immediate posting; material written for a Network that I work with here and their new e-newsletter with it’s first edition about to be released to almost a hundred churches and ministries; a request to meet with someone who was part of this church many years ago (and whom we have not heard from since he left) and who is now in touch again because he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is looking to meet so I can lay hands on him and pray for his healing (which I will most certainly do later in the week); a quiet hour to think through next Sunday’s teachings and begin to jot some notes down to begin the process of determining what the Lord would have the sermon contain and what part of the research was simply for my edification and so will not form part of the teaching; and even managed to unpack the ’leftovers’ from last Sunday and began putting things aside for next Sunday’s two services (a mundane but important feature of the week).

Tonight – a time to pray and worship with the people of this church at our “House of Prayer for All Nations” night and then 20 to 30 emails that need answering along with finishing April and May’s “master calendars” so we can coordinate where I am to be and when. This will take me well into the early morning.

A very normal and very fulfilling day for yours truly.

The Trip Home Begins – Ukraine Delayed Posting #19

Monday – and we are on a train that left Dnipropetrovsk at 6:30 a.m. with four of us from the team on it. We will arrive at 1:00 p.m. in Kiev where we will be picked up. We arrive and I said goodbye to my interpreter Miroslav who has been a serious blessing to the team and a real friend to me. He has been precious and made the last two weeks a joy as we lived and worked together. A fine Christian man who is also an apostle that I am training and who will be working with me again in June, August and November in three different countries as I continue to see my ministry being opened up here in countries of the former Soviet Union.

I spent the whole train ride getting to know him better (on a personal level) and covering a wide range of business topics for the work that he and I will be doing together in the coming years. It was a mix of business and personal but it was all a pleasure as Miroslav is easy to talk with and has some great ideas to help organize the Russian speaking side of my ministry. This will also allow me to work with him more and thus train him faster so he can be about fulfilling the call of apostle on his own life. Working together will also allow us to come to know each other more quickly. Terrific time – one of those warm moments in relationships. (This week – as I post this on-line – he is in the country of Moldova doing apostolic work so we ask you to pray for him).

We had a great lunch with a local pastor then actually had an opportunity to have a small rest. Then later we met with a local pastor and his wife … we had almost 2 hours together and discussed some prophetic dreams that they have had and how these dreams relate to what the Holy Spirit is doing in Ukraine and through them in the realm of apostles and prophets and the prophetic. Bed by ten o’clock after a bowl of soup as a team… and up at 2:15 a.m. to be at the airport on time.
Closing as I am in Frankford, Germany and my second flight for the day is boarding.

Now 35,000 feet in the air on an Air Canada flight from Frankford, Germany to Toronto. The plane has a place to plug in a computer so dragged it out to get some more work done. We have been in the air about three hours and have 5 more to go. Have had the opportunity to do some thinking “out loud” with my Canadianteam member Bob MacDonald about all that has happened in the 21 days we have ‘been on the road again’ and we have looked at some future plans of our joint ministry together and what needs to be done to encourage its development.
He is now having a rest and I’m going to work on a sermon for Sunday. Have been jotting notes during the several flights and rides today. I actually began the sermon on my last flight back from Ukraine in November, 2088 and have been thinking about it and jotting down notes as I researched and studied. Today I think it has gelled enough to now actually start to write. Hopefully this is true as the week will be a blur after I arrive back home and resume “normal life”.

One has this feeling that travelling and ministering on the road in other nations is now going to be my ‘normal life’. I hope so!

Toronto – a stop over. Just enough time to have an extra large Tim Horton’s coffee (with two cream) and enjoy the luxury of good Canadian coffee. Then an opportunity to sort through hundreds of emails that have come through now that we can connect to the internet and our email accounts once again. Sitting at the gate to board the next flight. Then home. It will be good to be home – body time Wednesday at 2 a.m. / Actual time – Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m.

Spiritual Warfare

There is a great verse in the first letter of John which I discovered many, many years ago. It has given stability to my Christian beliefs and freedom to walk in faith and do what I hear the Lord telling me to do – at least to the best of my ability.

1 John 5:18 We know that those who have become part of God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them.

Jesus holds us securely. He purchased us with His blood and is very capable of “keeping” that which He has died on the Cross to redeem. He holds us tight and the Devil can not “get his hands on them”. Unless, of course, you chose to live contrary to God’s Word and/or walk away from your relationship with God. Then, by your own free will you have have chosen to place yourself where the devil can get his hands on you as you have left the protection and care of the Great Shepherd of the sheep.

Here’s what happened when you were saved or born again. The Holy Spirit came to live inside of you and like all good house guests he brought a house warming gift. This gift is called ‘eternal life’. We find this fact in Romans 6:23b which states, “and the gift of God is eternal life”. The definition of eternal life is found in the Gospel according to John, chapter 17 and verse 3, “This is eternal life: that you may know (have an intimate relationship with) God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent…”

When this took place we were literally taken from the domain of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1:13) and the devil could not stop that transfer. He was powerless as he has been totally defeated by the blood of Jesus shed upon the cross of Calvary for the forgiveness of sins and the healing of our bodies. His defeat remains and he cannot touch us or harm us unless we open a door through disobedience or decide to walk away from our daily relationship with the lord Jesus Christ.

So, this brings me to my point. I believe there is too much emphasis on spiritual warfare today in the Church in general and in the life of the believer. I just don’t see that type of focus in the New Testament and in the early Church. Instead, I see them focused on what the Lord has accomplished and on what He has called the Church to do – “go into all the world and make disciples in all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-20).

As they did this there was, of course, opposition. Some of it was from the devil. However, they simply preached the “power of God unto salvation” and continued to stay focused on the Lord and their task -instead of being side-tracked into fighting every little DEFEATED demon of hell.

I am also of the opinion that then, like now, most of the opposition to the pure Gospel of salvation and the offer of Jesus Christ of eternal life comes from the flesh and not from the devil. He gets blamed for much too much in today’s world. The greatest opposition to people getting saved or born again is not the devil – it is man’s will and the flesh.

Guy Chevreau in his book “Spiritual Warfare Sideways” states, “Short of the end times, there is no New Testament use of either polemos or strateia for the spiritual war that engages believers directly with the demonic. As pervasive as the tern “spiritual warfare” has become over the last two decades, the phrase itself is not found in the Scriptures.”

He goes on to state, “Further, neither Satan nor the demonic receive any extended discourse anywhere in the scriptures. He and his horde are given only passing references. In the gospels there are a mere seventeen separate references to the devil, however he is named” (page 77).

Could not agree more. We need to take out focus off of what the devil might be doing at he was defeated on the Cross of Calvary and is still a defeated and conquered enemy today. He only has as much power in our lives as we let him have – which should be absolutely none. We need, instead, to deal with our own flesh and “man’s will” which is most often the greatest hindrance to walking closely with the Lord and enjoying intimate fellowship with Him and the Father daily.

I am excited with the change in focus that I sense has begun to happen in the Church – but also sense a need to state that when you take your eyes off of the things the devil might be doing you need to focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3) and not on angels and the “cloud of witnesses” or anything else that has now apparently come galloping in to take the place of the devil and his demons in our direct line of vision.

The Bible states: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up.

It is a full-time job keeping up with all the exciting things that the Lord is currently doing and what He is asking us to become involved in. We should not have time for anything else.

Last Day of Ministry – Ukraine Delayed Posting #18

It’s our third Sunday in Ukraine and we are tired. The whole team is tired. Today we were to be ministering at 12:30 at a service in a new church for us here in the city of Dnipropetrovsk. However, yesterday I was asked if I would come to another church earlier in the day to “sense” what was wrong and what needed to be dealt with in the local church plant. I agreed and informed my tired team that we had more work to do than planned.

So, I attended a 9:00 a.m. service. After preaching a sermon on the wonderful benefits of knowing Jesus as found in the benediction at the end of the book of Hebrews the team prophesied over the pastor and his wife. Then a lunch, a long drive through the city to the second service of the day.

Again, at this 2nd service which started at 12:30 noon I preached (a different sermon) and then we prophesied over the pastor and his wife. Powerful. At 4:00 p.m. we needed to vacate the rented hall we were using so we moved upstairs to the office complex and squeezed as many as we could into a room and continued to minister. We prayed for a young giurl who had a spirit of death and commanded it and the cancer that has destroyed her to come out. We prophesied over a number of people and I also prophesied over the local church. I had told the pastor that I was good for an hour in this second meeting of the afternoon (and third for the day) but we did not end until 6:30 and we were wiped.

Supper with the pastor and his family and my team … then back to the small apartment we were staying in. Then our interpreter and myself and Bob (the other senior apostle on the team of 12) met with the pastor from the early morning service. The meeting went from 9:00 to almost midnight. The purpose of the meeting was to inform him as to what we saw and felt (sensed) in the spirit realm about his church during our time with him at the morning service. It was a good meeting – we helped a lot and I believe the Lord gave him and his wonderful wife hope that things will work out for them and their church. We gave them all we had sensed and then spoke about the solutions to those issues – or, at least, how to start to move towards the solution and some health for the people of that local body of Christ.

Then packing, cleaning up, bed at 1:30 a.m. and up at 4:00 so we could all have showers and breakfast and be on the train to Kiev (6 hour ride) the same morning (Monday).

Great day for us – we learned a lot. Great day for the Kingdom – it grew some and we were able to adjust some foundational issues in two different churches and let them see the bright future that God has planned for them.

It also resulted in an invitation for me to come back during my June visit to Kiev to do my Gifts of God seminar (we will now need to translate the manual into Russian) for one local church (and others from churches in the city) as well as spend some time with the other local church whose pastor we met with to continue working with him and adding some elements of his leadership into the day-long meeting.

Included on this trip in June of 2009 will also be a visit to a local church plant outside the capital city of Kiev where one of the young apostles who came with us to minister for two weeks is working. He has a small number of people but size is never a criterion to my ministering (and neither is money). He was thrilled that I was willing to come and be with him. I am thrilled that he wants me to come. So, we were both blessed and the Lord will do the blessing when I get there.

The Greatest Sacrifice of Love

The greatest sacrifice of love in history occurred in Christ’s death on the cross. God allowed His only Son to become mortal—Word made flesh—and then to endure the most excruciatingly painful and publicly humiliating death possible: crucifixion.

God’s love for us is truly incomprehensible. Our love has limits, but God’s love has none. It’s completely unconditional, no strings attached.

God’s sacrifice reminds me of the story of a man who operated a drawbridge over a bay in a small ocean town. Every day he would walk up to the office next to the drawbridge, where he could control the lever. He would pull up the lever, the drawbridge with the train track on it would rise, and enormous ships would glide through. Then he would push the lever down, and the drawbridge would lower so the train could cross safely.

Almost every day his little boy would go to work with him—he loved to watch his dad raise and lower the drawbridge. One day when they were there together, the dad was radioed that a nonscheduled train was on its way and he needed to lower the drawbridge. He glanced out the window just as he was touching the lever, and he saw his little boy outside playing in the huge gears of the drawbridge next to the shore. He yelled for him, but his son couldn’t hear him with all the commotion and noise near the water.

The man raced out of the office and ran toward his son to try to grab him and pull him to safety but then the horrible truth struck him. If he didn’t push down that lever right away, the train would plunge into the sea, and hundreds of passengers would die. But if he lowered the bridge, his son would be killed. At the last possible second he made his terrible decision, raced back to his station, and pulled down the lever, falling to his knees in agony as his little boy was crushed to death.

With tears streaming down his cheeks, he looked out and saw the train racing safely over the bridge. He could see in the window of one of the dining cars that people were eating, drinking, and laughing, totally oblivious to the great sacrifice he had just made so they could live.

Most of us are totally oblivious to the great sacrifice God has made. He gave His only Son, who came to this earth and died for us to forgive us of our past guilt, to give us purpose in the present, and to give us a future that includes heaven. As you think about what it means to give sacrificially to those around you, maybe you should first think about how much God has sacrificed for you.

World-wide Youth Movement – Ukraine Delayed Posting #17

February 28

“Oh, what a feeling” is a line from an oldies but goodies song on the oldies stations in my country. But it describes the evening we have just had. It is 1:00 a.m. where I am and we have had quite the day.

Up early to pack – no shower as there was no water in our end of the city where we are staying. Then a time to say good-bye to the crew that has helped us and facilitated our ministry for the last seven days. A three hour car ride follows down some semi-decent highways and several stops along the way to use the facilities. The first being a brick outhouse on the side of the road with no door and no toilet – just a hole in the cement floor for your convenience. This was better and more private than one we stopped at on the way down that had a large opening (window) facing right on to a very busy highway. You are going to the bathroom almost in plain sight of those passing by.

Our next stop was just at the side of the road and some trees. Ah! I felt much more at home as this is my “normal washroom” when travelling in my home province – either because there are no gas stations on the roads I am travelling or it is well into the middle of the night and they are all closed.

A lunch – filled with questions and answers … an opportunity to unpack and look out the window for a few minutes and then off to the service. We started shortly after five and ended shortly before 10:00 p.m. Powerful night – terrific, in fact! Wonderful. Exciting. Neat. Magnificent!! God really showed up. The worship was super good and then I shared a little of my testimony (love doing that) and then some on the need for the church to be supernatural. This led us to the gifts of the Holy Spirit… and then we demonstrated the gift of prophesy over 22 year old Sasha whom I had never met before.

As I walked into the room (filled to overflowing) I saw this young man sitting and chatting with someone. I instantly knew he was the reason I am in this city and so I called him up so we could prophesy over him and let the others see what I had just taught on. It was a good 30 minute word and then some instructions afterwards.

After the meeting was dismissed I then chatted with him through one of the interpreters who is in the group of apostles-in-training. Great young man with the right heart. His calling – apostle. This is why I am here – to find these young men and women and call them out for the work of the Lord and to be the leaders of a new type of church that is arising within the Ukraine. A prototype for the rest of the world to follow.

Ukrainian youth will rise up and take their rightful place in the Kingdom and will be the leaders of a worldwide youth revival that will sweep the globe like a gigantic tsunami wave that will engulf every nation on the planet and that will see millions come into the Kingdom. This establishing of young apostles and prophets is the initial steps in laying a proper foundation for this move of the Holy Spirit. The churches – and there will be many – that will be established as a result of this move will be like no others upon the face of the Earth. They will not look like nor function like any other currently established church or denomination/network. They will be the Church that Jesus Christ builds based upon a prophetic-apostolic model that will speak and release life to the nations.

On the Road Again – Ukraine Delayed Posting #16

February 27, 2009

Well, we had a great day yesterday. Many people gave testimonies about their prophetic words. It is amazing what the Lord reveals. And, there were some people who came up to me and told me that they had been healed the night before during the major prophetic healing line we had. Here the team members would lay hands on the sick and not ask what was needed. They would seek the Lord and prophetically receive what they were to pray for. The testimonies from the team members around 12:30 a.m. were wonderful. The testimonies of the people healed were even more so. We serve a good God.

In the morning session yesterday the power went totally out. It didn’t stop the capacity crowd from worshiping. The pastor on the guitar kept going without power, the pastor on the drums kept going. Leadership switched back and forth between them and the key board player who also could not play the keyboard. People sang and worshipped and celebrated. We were nearing the end of worship when this happened and so it added 45 minutes extra to the worship and put the teaching schedule for the day in a bit of a pinch. But it was worth it as Heaven opened and the presence of God was tangible and powerful. No physical power but a great deal of spiritual power was suddenly available.

Got back to where we are staying – met with my lead team member for almost an hour – and decided to head to bed just after 1:30 a.m. Toilet and shower and sink out of commission. No water! The apartment buildings across the street from the orphanage where we stay also had no water. Just went to bed.

This morning – up real early to pack and rearrange stuff in the suitcases – taking out certain teachings, dirty clothes in one bag, clean at the top of the other… still no water for a shower or shave and the toilet… Left at 10:00 for a three hour drive to Dnipropetrovsk which is a city of 2 million. Had lunch in the ‘apartment’ where we are to stay … two team members and myself. The other two team members are being housed elsewhere. So, I will be working with a team of five of us here.

I am so pleased that these young apostles were able to travel with me. They are good and are doing very well hearing God for those they are praying for. Exciting to see them grow and develop.

The others are resting right now – tonight at 5:00 we meet with 30 people who are the leaders of the local church here that is hosting us. That means over 1/3 of the church are considered leaders. Tomorrow morning – 30 who pastor churches in and around this city. Tomorrow afternoon and evening – teaching and prophetic ministry during public services. Sunday – the regular morning (afternoon) service of the host church… there will be other meetings scattered around throughout our time here. Then on Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. we head to the train station for a 6 hour train ride to Kiev. The start of a long journey home.

We are looking forward with great anticipation to what the Lord might do here in this wonderful and beautiful city on the Niber River which I can see from the 9th floor window of the little office where I have located my computer.


Prophecy for a Local Church

In my last ‘Prophetic Insight’ article I mentioned that … “Recently I was in a local church and received nothing ahead of time – in spite of a concentrated time (in my hotel room the night before) of focusing on the church and the ministry to happen the next morning. I received nothing in advance. Then, at the service, I received nothing. It took three days after the event before I understood why – but that is another issue I will address in another ‘Prophetic Insight.’ ”

Well, let me speak to that issue in this edition of The Apostolic Approach’s ‘Prophetic Insights.’

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