January - August 2001 Issue

Editorial Catching a glimpse of the repeating cycles of history

How to Succeed in Sales: Order Taker or Sales Rep?Looking at our own actions.

The Internet: Where Do I Begin?Basic ingredients of a website.

Management Matters: Let's Call This Meeting to OrderEssentials of an effective meeting.

Superhuman Life No. 95: Whose Child Are You?Our Creator personally cares for us.

Daily Discipline: Jeremiah An example of someone who lived a life of faith.

Personal Experiences of God Rev. Edgar M. Levy, D.D. tells how God influenced his life.

Why Am I Alive?Is life only a state of mind?

CCI BOOKSHOP: The Centrality of the Cross Jessie Penn-Lewis explores the important meaning of the Cross.

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by Ernest O'Neill

As we watch the juggling for position that is occurring now in the European parliament, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the repeating cycles of history. Man seems to be incapable of delivering himself from the old mistakes and enmities that have dogged him century after century. Strong Germany has difficulty with the current dissipated, ineffectual behavior of the present unwieldy decision-making machinery of the European states and sees the only alternative in a tighter, more concentrated executive body that will operate more like herself. At the same time, shivers of apprehension go through every European member-state as the shadows of past domination cast their darkness on the present scene.

Similarly, in the U.S., we engage in the same replay of the past cycles of the selfish capacities of capitalism jogging aside its unselfish concern for environment, the deprived, and the weak. We are again in danger of turning away from the restrained benevolence of balanced leadership and sinking into the service of powerful, selfish forces intent on their own enrichment at the cost of isolation, international antagonism, and indifference to the environment.

All the time, as cycle follows cycle, we see little bits of truth as the Creator continues to expose man’s inability to live by his own power and cleverness, and manifests His own glorious love and wisdom.

There is not a word that you have spoken or a deed that you have done that your creator has not foreseen, done in his son, and worked into his plan for you. Why? There can be only one reason for this kind of care - because he loves you and thinks of you as his dear child. Even now - with all the independent wilfulness that we have shown up to this moment - even now, you are the recipient of a lot of care and infinite love - and will be until you die. What then can we do in the light of this reality? Let’s discuss that next

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How to Succeed in Sales -- Part 3

Order Taker or Sales Rep?

by Martha Nelson

Last month we talked about the Sales Slump that hits most sales people sometime in their career. We concluded that there was no excuse for not analysing our own performance and taking the necessary action to ensure we were the best we could be as a salesperson. It's no use blaming market trends, our product, or our company's policies if we're not honest with ourselves about our own actions.

Beanie Babies

For example, I sell enamel jewellery to retail shops in England, and in my conversations with buyers often hear stories about other reps and agents. (A Sales Representative usually works for just one company, who covers some of their expenses; an Agent carries lines from many companies and works only on commission.) One was that the rep for Beanie Babies (small collectable beanbag animals) in my sales area was a millionaire. Seeing these piles of Beanie Babies on every visit to every gift shop I called on supported this story. On a low-hitting sales day, it was easy to think, "if only I were selling Beanie Babies instead!"

However, I'm also part owner in the company I represent, so have a long-term interest in helping it succeed—especially since we built our own jewellery factory in Thailand 10 years ago. So jumping on the Beanie Baby Bandwagon was not an option. Many sales people are also committed to their existing company for different reasons—so for them, jumping ship is not the best answer. Perhaps you are the owner AND sales force for your own business. In fact, if the aforementioned Beanie Baby Millionaire has not retired, he or she is probably looking for another job as the bottom dropped out of that product last year. These are the risks and decisions we take as sales people.

"An Agency to Die For"

I also know of a successful silver jewellery company—a competitor—whose product is prominently displayed in the best retail outlets I call on. It didn't surprise me to hear another agent say longingly that a job for this company "was an agency to die for." I know their product sells well and again, the temptation is to think, "if only I had their product" _but there are reasons why my company can't duplicate it. We specialise in enamel jewellery and have made a name for ourselves in enamel, whereas the competitor sources cheap silver and employs a large design team to produce endless designs. Besides that, it's far more rewarding to come up with products that are as unique as we each are rather than copying everyone else—as long as they sell!

At times like these it is good to step back and see that anyone can sell a good selling product that sells itself. To sell Beanie Babies or work for my silver jewellery competitor, you could probably get by with being an Order Taker instead of a Salesperson. The ideal is, of course, to be a Salesperson with the hottest selling product. This combination produces the most sales. But what if you don't have the hottest product?

First of all, companies with hot products don't have to hire Order Takers—every top rep is after the job, so they can take their pick. It's good to learn what we can from other companies' successes and why their products sell—but if you find yourself selling a No. 2 product—don't despair. Think of it as an opportunity to go beyond Order Taking to Selling—to become the best you can be as a sales person, so that—no matter what product you're asked to sell—you do your best.

Having determined to do this, it's still true that the most important factor for good sales is a good product. So what can you do to help your company and yourself find and maintain the best products?

What's Selling?

One of the easiest ways to keep an eye on the trends in your market is to get in the habit of asking your buyers, "What's selling? What is your most popular product right now?" Trade journals and advertising can present a biased picture of what's really going, but the people you sell to every day are an invaluable source of information. Record their responses (at least 3 per week) in your Sales Diary—and report it to your sales team, sales manager and/or marketing department. You are the eyes and ears for your company's design team, so do your part. They'll be glad for the information and regular recording of these responses will begin to show trends that can guide new product development to increase your sales.

Trade associations and government publications can also provide valuable information about your industry's trends and cycles. Become an expert in your field!

Is Price Important?

Some people think the lowest price is the most important factor in clinching a sale. While we do need to constantly evaluate our product's value for money, many examples show that price ISN'T as important as we may think. Of course, there are always people who want the cheapest item at the cheapest price—and get what they pay for. But many other people value the service, quality and support provided by a company that may charge a little more. You as a Salesperson also add "extra value" to the sale if you are a professional. Your customers will not quickly throw you over for a competitor if you are giving them good service and advice to help their business succeed—something an Order Taker cannot offer. As business becomes more and more impersonal through chain stores and internet shopping, people will still respond to a PERSON who provides something money can't buy: a genuine concern for them as individuals.

So we need to know our product, our competition, and our market trends as best as we can. Yet it seems there are certain laws of business set up by our Creator which ensure that the prize doesn't always go to the swiftest or the strongest. We each have a unique gift to bring to the marketplace, and developing that to its full potential as salespeople is far more rewarding than settling for an existence as an Order Taker.

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Taking Business to the Web

The Internet: Where Do I Begin?

By Joe Selzler

If you're reading this article and if you read my last one you are probably interested in creating your own website. The big question you might be asking yourself right now is "Where do I begin?" For this series, "Taking Business to the Web", I will assume that you are already in business in the physical world or you have a business plan in place for dot.com business. 1 What I am going to do is help you with the technical task of getting your business onto a web site. There are two points I want to stress from the beginning. First, this series will be for those who want to build their website themselves. If you don't have time to build your own website or don't think you can handle technical themes very well you will probably want to seek professional help. Only remember that such help will come with a cost, which can sometimes reach into the millions, depending on what you want to achieve with your site. Second, I am not writing as an Internet professional, but am writing based on my own experience from setting up two business websites for Fish Enterprises 2 and an information website for Christian Corps International.3 If I haven't lost you yet, then read on because now we can get into the meat of building a website.

Let's Go Surfing!

The first thing I did when designing our websites was to go onto the Internet and look at how others had arranged their websites. When doing this it is a good idea to include websites that are similar in theme to your own business and also some that have a different theme. Human beings are subject to getting tunnel vision and if we only look at sites like our own then all websites in a particular theme will begin to look exactly alike and creativity will go out of the window. There are several ways to do this but probably the best way is through a search engine 4. Simply go to your favorite search engine and type in a key word or a key phrase and click the search button. When the results page appears click on the link for the top result and study the layout of that particular website. This might be a very complicated website or a very simple one but good websites will have a few things in common. Here are the things I believe to be the most important!

Uncluttered and Definable Layout

When you follow a link to a website from a search engine you are normally viewing the Home Page 5 of that site. (This sample is found at http://www.compaq.com/smb )

Because the Home Page is the main page for the website (the front door so to speak) it is the portal that visitors will go through to get to all the other pages of the site. It is sort of like the Title Page and Table of Contents page all wrapped up into one. This page should be broken into segments that make reading easy and quick for visitors. That's what I mean by uncluttered. The layout should be definable so that visitors know what each segment is for. Remember that because the Internet is slower than a program that operates on your local computer from your hard drive, visitors must be able to move around a website as quickly as possible.

A Home Page Needs a Title

A Home Page needs to have a definite Title for the Website so you will know immediately where you are on the web. This Title should be separate from all other text on the page. It should also be in a larger font size so that it can be read quickly. In this example "Compaq solutions for your growing business" is the Title of the Home Page

Informational Text is Very Important

I think it is very important to have short paragraphs which explain the main points of a website. As I mentioned above, the web can be quite slow over the average Internet connection and pages take a little time to download. Therefore, visitors want to get as much information about a website as possible without having to download endless pages. The best websites will have a short paragraph with a subtitle introducing the most important sections of the site, with links to those sections.


One of the neatest things about the Internet is the ability to have images on a webpage. However, images can be very poorly used so there are some important things to keep in mind. Good websites use them sparingly and use mostly smaller images. Background images (a wallpaper effect) are okay but can be a distraction; the best websites rarely use them.


I believe this is the most important item of the Home Page after the title. A Home Page should have an area devoted to links that are consistent throughout the website, a sort of navigation bar much like the one you find on applications on your computer. There are some websites that I return to again and again, and I want to be able to get to the section of the site I am interested in quickly. A navigation bar, down the left side of the page or across the top, makes this possible.

Emulate the Best

If your website follows the pattern above then chances are you will get customers returning time and again to purchase goods from you. After all, that is why you are creating a web site in the first place. So while you are on the first website from the search engine results page, make a note of how it uses the above to achieve its goals. Then consider how you might emulate this to achieve the goals of your website. After you have viewed the top search result, go back to your search engine and view about 20 more results. When you are done you should have a good idea for your site.

Planning Your Website

For my next article prepare yourself by drawing out your website on a plain piece of paper. Write in your title and make blocks where you will put your information paragraphs. Also, sketch as best you can the images you might want on your home page. Finally, make a list of the other pages you will need for your website. This list will help you fill in your links on your navigation bar. It will also plan your information paragraphs and the links you will need in them...

Until then, happy surf'n!

Glossary 1
1. dot.com business. This is a business that exists solely on the Internet.
2. www.fineenamels.com & www.badgesunlimited.com
3. www.worldinvisible.com
4. Search Engine. This is a website that you can use to find other websites on the internet that pertain to a particular topic. These websites use a computer program that travels the web indexing the websites it finds and putting their addresses in a database.
5. Home Page. This is the main page of a website. Whenever you type in a web address as in those mentioned in nos. 2& 3 above, you will see this page first.

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Management Matters

Let's Call This Meeting to Order

by Joanne Leitschuh

"What did you do over the Christmas break?", my mother asked when I spoke to her on the phone. "I spent a lot of time in meetings", I said. That didn't sound too exciting, but I know it was time well spent. Our three stations only have one week out of the year to talk "eyeball to eyeball"! Throughout the year, our jewellery manufacturing team in Thailand, our sales representatives in America and our sales team here in the U.K. email, phone and fax several times a week. However, the end of the year is the only opportunity for all 16 of us to sit around a conference table and talk. The challenge is WHAT do we talk about and HOW do we talk about it?

What's the best way to approach a meeting? Just let it happen and speak our minds or be very organised with a rigid agenda? Meetings are one of the most important ways to communicate in an office environment. Office managers spend roughly 20 percent of their time at meetings. So, how can you make the most of meetings? Manning and Haddock's book, Office Management, suggests the following steps:

1. Contact attendees before the actual meeting to obtain support for ideas and build the foundations you will need to defend your ideas and suggestions.
2. Assuming you conduct the meeting, identify who will make formal presentations.
3. Determine what will be discussed and distribute an agenda prior to the meeting (at least a day in advance if possible.)
4. State how long the meeting will last and control the time of each speaker to ensure it ends on time.
5. Prepare charts or reports before the meeting and make sure that necessary equipment such as overhead projectors is in working order before attendees arrive.
6. Start the meeting promptly at the announced time.
7. Control the meeting. Keep discussions and attendees on track.
8. Summarise what action was decided and provide a written follow-up assigning specific responsibilities and deadlines for those involved.
9. Evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting and how it can be approved.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? But if you have ever been in a meeting with several people — each one having their own views and unique personalities — you might think that it's a miracle for everyone to have one heart and one mind on anything! But it CAN happen! I have seen it. If the original purpose of a meeting is to assemble and talk with each other, then that can be accomplished quickly. The main goal in a business meeting however, is to agree on a decision and to go forward as one. Everyone knows the plan and is brought up-to-date.

As we experienced last week at our meetings, we might not all have agreed or immediately understood the plan of having an international inventory, but the foundations were made. Even the concept of having a website where we will be able to communicate more efficiently was introduced. The plans were presented, the reports were made and comments were exchanged. Everyone could catch the vision at the meeting. Now it is time for implementation.

Someone once told me to make the leader's job easy. This applies to those in a meeting, too. Creativity and efficiency are decreased when we do not choose our words carefully before we speak. The chairman of the meeting should not be spending his time and energy keeping everyone in line. Respect for each other's time and comments are essential.

Meetings are opportunities to acknowledge that we can restore each other through Jesus' grace. As we gather, we can build each other up into one mind and heart. Jesus in us and in our meetings makes harmony happen.

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Superhuman Life (95)

Whose Child Are You?

by Ernest O'Neill

It's obvious that someone or something has gone to a lot of trouble to enable you to get up this morning, walk out into the fresh air, and go to work or school. Something or someone built that house or apartment you live in - and something or someone obviously designed it with great care and foresight.

But it's just as obvious that the sky above you is more beautiful and expansive than the ceiling of your bedroom and the sunlight brighter and warmer than the lights in your home. None of us believes for a moment that your home resulted from an explosion and you'll laugh at anyone who suggests it came about by chance. So, of course, none of us seriously believes that all the greater beauties and wonders of nature came about unless there is someone or something who wants us to be happy in the enjoyment of this wonderful universe.

Whose Child Are You?

Why has this great something or someone done all this ? Why has he made you, and why has he given you so many experiences and things to enjoy? The best information we have is the actions and words of the man who is known as the son of the creator of the universe - Jesus who lived around 29 a.d. in Palestine.

He explained that His Father and He live above this time-space world, and that His Father made you inside His only Son so that He could enjoy the infinite beauties of his son's life in you and millions of others. But this could only occur if you were a free person like his son - free to love him back for all his generosity to you - and free to reject him and his love - if you wanted.

But Our Creator knows that there is no life outside Him so He committed himself to keeping you inside his son (really therefore inside himself) for as long as it takes to bring you into the truth of his love for you. The death of his son, Jesus, in Palestine expresses the actuality of God's putting himself at our mercy as we continue to strangle Christ's spirit within us by our autonomous, egotistic lives.

So you are really the child of your creator - someone who is dear to him because you are part of his only Son. If you don't believe this or live your life as if you're a separate, independent person, then you're a child waiting to be born. Meanwhile, your dear father waits and suffers your behavior and indifference. Yet all the time he sustains you with his life that keeps your heart beating and your blood flowing. He spends each day planning for little experiences and people that you will enjoy, and his son's spirit in you subtly ameliorates the pains and tragedies that you would otherwise cause.

In fact, you live a life that your Father has already foreseen because he knows how you will act and react in every situation, yet he so restrains his own counteracting activity that your free will is preserved inviolate until you willingly submit it to the One who loves you most.

How Then Are You to Live?

What are you to do in the light of these realities? Obviously there is only one that you can take to this kind of love and care - gratitude and whole-hearted enjoyment of all the abilities and opportunities and experiences that God has given you. Above everything else, if you are really part of God himself and He is such a selfless, generous person, then you will only be fully happy if you live the same as He does. This means a generous, self-forgetful life of joy and peace and love. Anything else is unreal and doomed to eventual dissolution.

How do you live this kind of life? Only one knows that - no other human being can tell you the life that God's Son has planned to live in you - no one else knows. Each of us can know only the life that Jesus wishes to live in us - we can't outline it to each other. This is part of the wonder of this life on earth - each of us is a unique part of God's Son, Jesus Christ - and each of us has to look to Him to live our lives. Within you is his Spirit. You can confirm that you're responding to his spirit and not your own by checking it with the life that He lived in Palestine, but faith is living in His presence and friendship not trying to copy his life in the first century.

The truth of the matter is that no one has yet seen the life that Christ has planned to live through you - it's another one of our dear Father's surprises that fill the universe with his spontaneous joy and pleasure. We can in future discussions talk about Christ's spirit and share how different it is from our own spirit, but finally it's you and Him. Finally, you're the only one who knows if you or He lives and speaks and acts here on earth.

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Daily Discipline

by Colleen Donaue

Our human potential can only be fulfilled when God's will is fulfilled rather than our own. Life is therefore lived at its best when it's lived with faith in God. Jeremiah, our subject this month, lived such a life. He was more interested in what God wanted for his life than in what he wanted. His life doesn't show much in the way of worldly success or personal achievement, yet he lived it to the fullest. Jeremiah's walk of faith with God is more significant than his teachings and we are fortunate that more is known of him than any other prophet.

Jeremiah was born during the last decade of the most evil king Judah ever had, King Manasseh. He was a thoroughly bad king with a totally corrupt government and its influence spread throughout the land. The moral condition of Judah had reached its peak. While keeping a "form of religion" men and women did "what was right in their own eyes" without regard to God. Idol worship and evil of all kind was rampant from the king on down.

It was into this political and moral turmoil that God sent Jeremiah to be his spokesman. If this description of Judah sounds close to what you and I live in today then let's look at .......THE LIFE OF JEREMIAH.......as we listen to his words.

Before His Birth

Day 1 We know only 3 things about Jeremiah's background. Jeremiah 1:1

Day 2 No child is just a child. Each is a creature in whom God intends to do something glorious and great. We are not just the product of our parents genes. So instead of being told what Jeremiah's parents were doing we are told what God was doing. Jeremiah 1: 5

Day 3 "Before I formed you and in the womb I knew you." (Jer.1:5a). This turns everything we ever thought about God around. Before it ever crossed our minds that God was important, God singled US out as important! Ps. 139: 15-16/ John 15:16

Day 4 The practical result of this realization is that we don't have to be paniced and anxious searching for the answers to life. We come to God who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives. John 1:4/ John 14:6/ I John 5:12

Therefore my identity isn't just what I or others think of myself, but what God thinks of me.

Day 5 Besides knowing Jeremiah before birth, God did two other important things. He CONSECRATED him and APPOINTED him. To be consecrated is to be set apart for God's side. We are chosen for something important that God is doing. What is God doing that we are meant to be a part of ?
Saving and Rescuing- Ps. 37:39/ Isa 41:10 / John 3:17
Forgiving — Isa 43:25 / I John 1:9
Blessing & Providing — Ps. 23:5 / Isa 30:23
Healing —Isa 57:18 / Hosea 6:1
Enlightening— Isa 30:21 / Isa 42:16
Loving — John 15:9, 13

There is a spiritual war in progress throughout our universe. There is death but God is for life. There is sickness but God wants us whole and well. There is evil but God is for good. There is hate but God abounds in love. There is ignorance but God has light for every man. There is no neutral ground in the universe. Everything is contested.

Day 6 God is out to win the world in love and each person has been set apart to do it with Him. He doesn't wait to see how we turn out but chooses us before birth. What does God desire our response to be? Romans 12: 1-2

Day 7 The third thing that God did to Jeremiah before he was born was to appoint him a prophet to the nations. The word appointed means "gave". God had given Jeremiah away before birth even as He had given His Son Jesus before birth. Jeremiah 1:5/ John 3:16

Day 8 We are meant to live by giving. It is what we do best and its the air in which we were born. Giving is the action that was designed into us before our birth. Our life is for others. Matt. 5:42 / Luke 12:33 / Luke 6:38 /II Cor 9:6-7

Day 9 Even though God knows, consecrates and appoints us before our birth we each have the choice whether or not to respond to Him. His love for us is so great, that He even risks that we will not choose Him. Deuteronomy 5:29/ Matt. 7:21

God's Call

Day 10 Jeremiah was like most of us. He wanted to say "yes" to God but he looked at himself, saw all his inadequacies and feared he would not be suitable. Jeremiah 1: 6

Jeremiah was not alone in feeling inadequate for God's call.

Day 11 Moses felt a great personal incompetency. Exodus 3:11/ Exodus 4:10

Day 12 Gideon and Saul felt keenly their lack of social position. Judges 6:15/ I Sam. 9:21

Day 13 Soloman looked at his young age and felt his immaturity. I Kings 3:7

Day 14 Isaiah could only see his uncleanness before God and felt unworthy to be His spokesman. Isa 6:5

Day 15 If we look "in" at ourselves we will only see inability, weakness, fear, uncleanness and inadequacy. John 15:5 / 2 Cor. 3:5

There is a great gap between what we think we can do and what God allows us to do. Our ideas for ourself are trivial but God's ideas for us are grand!

Day 16 God is very understanding when we feel our call is beyond our abilities, yet He is firm. Whatever God calls us to , He equips us for, directs us in and protects us throughout. What did He promise Jeremiah? Jeremiah 1: 7-9,12,19

Jeremiah's Work and Message

Day 17 Two thirds of Jeremiah's work was to be in the direction of destruction and only one third construction. Until men see that they are sinners they will see no need for a Saviour. Jer. 1:10 /Ps. 53:3/ Isa 64:6 / I John 1:8

Day 18 God gave Jeremiah two visions that would help give direction to his life's work. The first vision was a rod of almond. The Almond tree — one of the first blooming trees in Palestine offered a promise that the fulfillment of spring was coming. So God's words are not just "blossoms" but they are the promise of fulfillment. In other words God will do what He says. Jer. 1: 11-12 / I Kings 8:56 / Matt. 5:18

Day 19 The 2nd vision allowed Jeremiah to see into the future and to understand why God wanted to use him as a warning call throughout the land. Jer. 1: 13-18

Day 20 This vision gives evidence that our path has been prepared. It is for us to walk in it. God prepares the path but He also prepares ME to walk in it. Eph. 2:10

Jeremiah's First Mission

Day 21 Jerusalem. This was the center of Palestine, the center of worship and therefore the center of life. This was where Jeremiah was to start speaking for God. What were God's concerns for the people? Jeremiah 2: 1-11

Day 22 Through Jeremiah, God summarizes the people's behaviour down to two points.Jeremiah 2: 13

Day 23 God wants to satisfy our lives with Himself. He calls Himself the fountain of living water because our spiritual thirst can only be satisfied at His well. Ps. 36:8-9 / Isa 55:1-2 / John 4:14 / John 7:37 / Rev. 22:17

Day 24 The broken cistern in Jeremiah 2: 13b is a great holding tank for water that is leaking because of a fatal crack. Many spend all of life building cisterns that can't hold water.... the cistern of pleasure, wealth, fame or human love. These will all crack and leave us dry. Satisfaction and fulfillment that stays full can only be found in God. Ps. 63: 1/ Ps. 103:1-5 / Ps. 107:9 / Isa 58:11

Day 25 Men and women who have rejected or at best ignored God in their day to day affairs are suddenly critical of God when their lives run dry and sorrows come. Maybe you also have blamed God for something that's happened to you. God cannot be blamed for our troubles and sorrows. Who can we point our finger to? Jeremiah 2:17, 19, 29 / Jeremiah 3:18

Day 26 It is man's own sin individually and collectively that bring about most of the sorrow and suffering we face. Yet, even this apparent evil is used by God if it forces us to turn back to Him for help and restitution. His heart is wide open to any sinner that turns to Him. Jeremiah 3: 12-17 / Jeremiah 4:1-2

Day 27 Instead of turning to God for help the people turned to their neighboring allies Egypt and Assyria. This was a further rejection of God and in the end would not help them. Jeremiah 2: 18, 36-37 / Isa 30:1-5

Day 28 In our day to day troubles, we reject God as well when we turn to other people or solutions rather than seek God first for HIS solution. Ps. 118:9 / Isa 2:22/ Isa 31:1 /Jeremiah 17:5

Day 29 Jeremiah described the people as having turned their backs to God but not their face. In other words, they walk away from God and do what they please but then look back to Him when they need some help. Jeremiah 2:27b

Day 30 God is not obligated to help us when we are really looking to the things of this world as our gods. During Jeremiah's days these gods were made of wood and metals. In our day they may take the form of money , influence , fame, and material goods. But they are none the less gods of our own making. Jeremiah 2:28

Day 31 The Lord rejects anything we trust in outside of Himself. We cannot prosper by them. Jeremiah 2:37b

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Personal Experiences of God

Rev. Edgar M. Levy, D.D. (Baptist)

"The personality of the Holy Spirit was rather an article of faith than a joyful realization. He had breathed into me life, but not the more abundant life. In a sense I was free, but not 'free indeed'."

It pleased God in my earliest childhood to call me by His Holy Spirit. As far back as memory will allow me to go I can recall seasons of great distress on account of sin. When other children around me were busy at play I would often invent some excuse to withdraw, that I might find a place where I could weep before God in secret.

The weary burden grew heavier with my increasing years. As fast as my mental powers were developed so as to understand, in a measure, the law of God, my condemnation and ruin became more alarmingly real. I cannot look back to this period of life as men usually do. They were not to me days of mirth, but days in which even childhood's laughter was turned into weeping and its buoyancy into heaviness.

My parents, who were intelligent, cheerful, and exemplary Christians were connected with the Chambers Presbyterian Church, and resided, at this time, remote from the sanctuary of their choice and opposite a Methodist Church. Here I would occasionally attend, and listen to the sainted Pitman and other faithful men of God. It was at this time, when only thirteen years of age, that the burden of sin was removed, and I had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. I can remember the very place, time, and circumstances in which this wondrous change occurred. For many days I had gone sorrowing, I cried unto God for the pardon promised to the penitent; but He seemed deaf to my entreaties. One night in the great congregation I presented myself for prayer; but no peace came. I returned home and retired at once to my chamber. I knelt near the window and heard, or seemed to hear, the voice of One saying unto me, "I love them that love me; and they that seek me early shall find me." That promise was mine. It was my Father's assurance of a loving welcome. It was but a moment, and I was in His arms. It was a rapturous hour. All things were changed. Sorrowing and sighing fled from my bosom. The Spirit of God witnessed with my spirit that I was born again. "Being justified by faith, I had peace with God." I never afterward had a doubt of my conversion. Even in the most unsatisfactory days of my Christian life I could not question the reality of the work of grace in my youthful heart.

In my twenty-first year I was ordained pastor of the First Baptist Church, West Philadelphia, then just organized. Here God greatly blessed my labors in the salvation of sinners. I often marveled how one so partially consecrated could be so successful. I am conscious now that I was proud of my success, and that it was needful for God to humble and afflict me.

After a pastorate of fourteen years I accepted a call to Newark, N. J. Here, also, God wonderfully blessed my labors, and hundreds were added to the Church. But O, how were all my services, even the best, mixed with selfishness, ambition, and pride! A consciousness of this often filled me with shame and sorrow. Then I would make a new effort to improve my life by more watchfulness, zeal, and prayer; and although failure was sure to follow, yet, not knowing of any better method, I would tread the same weary road over and over again.

Severe afflictions visited me. The sweetest voice of the household group was hushed; the brightest eyes were darkened in death; health failed; many friends proved unreliable; hopes withered, and the way grew rough and thorny. My unsanctified soul, instead of learning submission, became impatient of restraint, would sometimes murmur against the dealings of God with me, question His wisdom and doubt His love. These feelings would not always prevail. There would be periods of relenting. Mortified at the indulgence of unchristian passions, I could not refrain from weeping before God with true contrition of heart; but it was only to return to the same bitter experience. That marvelous portrait which is hung up in the seventh chapter of Romans, and which portrays the fearful struggle between will and power -- between the evil that is hated and yet committed, and the good that is approved and yet not performed -- is a faithful picture of my condition at this time.

After a residence of ten years in Newark I returned, in the autumn of 1868, to the scene of my early labors, and became pastor of the Berean Baptist Church, Philadelphia. Here I found the religious condition of the members of my new charge as unsatisfactory as my own. They were in a cold, barren, worldly state. I have seldom seen a church more broken and paralyzed. I grieved for them with tender compassion. This solicitude in their behalf produced a fresh consciousness of my own imperfections. I hated sin. I felt that it weakened my moral powers, grieved the Holy Spirit, interrupted my communion with God and impaired my usefulness. One Sunday afternoon I entered my schoolroom unusually depressed. A sense of utter helplessness came over me. As my tear-dimmed eyes surveyed the school I was painfully moved by the number of adult scholars who were unconverted. I returned to my study crying, "Who is sufficient for these things?"

In February, 1871, Mr. Purdy, an evangelist, was holding meetings in the Methodist Church adjacent to mine. I was invited by the pastor to attend these efforts to promote Christian holiness. I went timidly at first, and yet I continued to go every afternoon for several days. There were divine influences drawing me there. Many Christians from different churches were also in attendance. Day after day, with meekness and gentleness, and yet with unwavering confidence, they told the story of long years of conflict, and of ultimate, and complete triumph through simple faith in the blood that cleanses from all sin, of their soul-rest and abiding peace, of their power with God and man, and the fullness of their joy. At first I became deeply interested, and then my heart began to melt. I said: These Christians are certainly in possession of a secret of wonderful power and sweetness. What can it be? Is it justification? No — it cannot be that. I have experienced the blessing of justification; by it I have been absolved from all my past sins; by it I stand in the righteousness of Christ, and every privilege of a child of God, and every grace of the blessed Holy Spirit, has been secured to me; but I do not realize that it has destroyed the power of inbred sin, or ended "the war in my members," or brought to me complete rest of soul. I have peace; but it is often broken by "fear which has torment." I am conscious of loving God, but like some sickly, flickering flame, I am expecting every moment to see it expire altogether. I have joy, but, like a shallow brook, the drought exhausts it. I have faith, but it is such a poor, weak thing, that I am in doubt, sometimes, whether it is faith at all. "I hate vain thoughts" — and yet they continue to come, and seem at home in my mind. I believe that Jesus saves from sin; and yet I sin from day to day, and the dark stains are everywhere visible. Prayer is inestimably sweet — but alas! it often becomes an effort. To work for Christ is a great privilege; but it often wearies me or degenerates into mere routine. The ordinances of religion yield comfort and strength; but I find as often that all spirituality and power have retreated from them, leaving their channels dry. I sometimes get glimpses of Him whom my soul loveth, but, O! how soon the bright vision fades; and "he hideth himself" is again the deep, earnest cry of my heart. Now, these believers have an experience altogether different from mine. Once, it is true, they felt as I feel, and mourned as I mourn, over broken vows, sinful tempers, intermittent devotions, and repeated failures. But a wonderful change is now manifest. "They are rooted and grounded in love." "Being made free from sin," they now bring forth fruit unto holiness. Having purged themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit they have become "vessels unto honor, sanctified and meet, for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work." My desires were kindled. An insatiable hunger seized my soul.

" I said: These Christians are certainly in possession of a secret of wonderful power and sweetness. What can it be?"

Just at this stage of my experience the meetings ended, and Mr. Purdy was compelled to leave for another appointment. Before leaving, however, a suggestion was made, that he might be induced to return and hold meetings in my own church. It was a surprise to me. I was not sure that my people would consent. I could do nothing, therefore, but leave it for the decision of the church on the coming Sabbath. I did so, and, greatly to my surprise, there was not the slightest objection raised. It was of the Lord.

During the ten days that preceded the meeting I was more than usually prayerful. I commenced a careful examination of the doctrine of sanctification. I reviewed my theological studies. I could scarcely think, or read, or pray on any other subject. I conversed with intimate friends of my own and other denominations. Nearly all of them pronounced the views advanced as nothing else than unscriptural and pernicious errors. They admitted the existence and universality of the disease, but could tell of no adequate remedy this side the grave. They allowed that the malady might be mollified; but in this life, they affirmed, it could never be perfectly healed. I searched the Scriptures but, alas! "my eyes were holden," so that I could not see that perfect deliverance from sin which God has provided, through the redemption of Christ, for His believing people. Those passages in the Word of God which require of all His children holiness of character, purity of heart, the entire sanctification of the soul, body and spirit, I was led to regard from educational training, as marks — very high indeed — after which every Christian should aspire but to which no one could ever attain; or else, as figurative expressions indicating that at conversion we were made, in some judicial sense, holy before God.

These views, however, could no longer satisfy me. I had an intense longing for better. With the poet, my poor heart cried out:
"I'm weary of the strife within,
O let me turn from self and sin!"

The first day of our meeting had come. The church was well filled. I introduced Mr. Purdy. But I had many misgivings, and a secret desire in my heart that he, would say nothing about sanctification, but bend all his efforts to the conversion of sinners. This, however, was not his way. Like a wise master-builder, he commenced to lay the foundation broad and deep. He took our Confession of Faith and urged, from the teaching contained therein, that we should accept the doctrine of sanctification by faith. Our Covenant was next produced and here he reminded us that in this we solemnly promised that we would so regulate our lives as to enable us to "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God." Last of all, he spoke of our baptism as a beautiful symbol of our death unto sin, our burial with Christ, and our resurrection to a new and holy life. "According to your form of baptism," he said, "the body is buried in water as the corpse is buried in the grave. In all your teachings on this subject, you insist that it is a figure of the believer's death and burial unto sin. But that is not all. You not only claim, in this act, that you die to sin, but that you also rise to a life of holiness. `Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing, that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died., he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.'" (Rom. 6). With great and emotion and emphasis he said, "You have the type, the figure, the symbol: will you deny the doctrine, and make what distinguishes you as a denomination a mere empty, lifeless ceremonial?"

After the sermon a number of persons bore testimony to the fullness and completeness of their present salvation. They represented several denominations — the Methodist, the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, the Friend, the Baptist; and there was a beautiful harmony in all that they said. I had no reason to doubt the truthfulness of their statements. "I might question," I thought, "their logic, find fault with their theories, and reject their phrase but how could I dispose of their experience?" My judgement was assailed as it had never been before. After the meeting I returned to my study, fell upon the floor, and poured out my soul before God. I did not pray for pardon, but for purity. I did not seek clearer evidences of my acceptance, but to be "made free from sin," not in a judicial or theological sense, but by a real, conscious, inwrought holiness.

That night I was unable to sleep. I was completely broken down in heart before God. The vision of Isaiah seemed reproduced. "I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up ... Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."

The morning at length dawned, and on every ray I could read, "Walk in the light as he is in the light." "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts," as chanted by the seraphim, seemed floated through all the air. As I thought of God, it was not so much His power or wisdom or justice or love that attracted my attention, as His infinite, spotless holiness.

That day, Friday, March 9, 1871, was observed by the church as a special season of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. My soul was in great agony. I can compare my experience on this memorable day to nothing else than crucifixion. It seemed to me that I had gone up with Christ to Calvary and was transfixed to the cruel and shameful cross. A sense of loneliness and abandonment stole over my mind. "An horror, of great darkness fell upon me," and all the powers of hell assaulted my soul. The enemy brought before me, with tremendous force, my lifelong prejudices, my theological training, my professional standing, my denominational pride. It was suggested that I must leave everything behind me should I go a step farther in this direction. The dread of being misunderstood, of having my motives questioned, of being called "unsound in doctrine,"' of being slighted by my ministerial brethren, and treated with suspicion and coldness, filled my heart with unspeakable anguish. Everything appeared to be sliding from under my feet. My sight grew dim, my strength departed, and faintness, like unto death, came upon me.

This mental conflict, however, soon subsided. The storm-clouds passed away, and light began to stream in. I was now done with theorizing, with philosophical doubts and vain speculations. The struggle was over. I cared no longer for the opinions of men. I was to be a fool for Christ and to suffer the loss of all things. I was like a little child. I cried out, "Teach me thy way, O Lord! and lead me in a plain path." Just then the fountain of cleansing was revealed. Jesus stood before me, with His bleeding wounds saying, "Come in! Come in!"

I turned to my congregation and said, `I stand before you today a poor, weak, and helpless sinner. I have tried to find the way of holiness by every possible means. All my efforts, my struggles, my prayers, my fasting, and my round of duties have proved miserable failures. God is making a wonderful revelation to my long-darkened understanding. I am confident now that it is not by growth, or by effort, or by works of any kind; `for then would our salvation be of works, and not of grace.' `In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.' That day has come. Here lies the fountain of my Saviour's blood. It was opened for me, even me."

I fell upon my knees and bowed my face to the floor. For a moment I felt that I was sinking in a great sea, and that all its waves were going over me. But they did not seem to be the waters of death. The Spirit of God whispered those precious words: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." My faith laid hold of this wonderful truth; a strange peace entered into my soul. I exclaimed within myself, " I am free! my heart, my soul, my mind, my body, are washed in the blood of the Lamb! " It was all so strange, so new, so unlike anything I had ever experienced before, that I could not utter a word, and then the only sentiment of my heart was, "Lord, it is done! I am saved! "

When the meeting ended I repaired immediately to the parsonage. I experienced great physical exhaustion, like Jacob, who was never so weak as when he had just prevailed with the angel.

I threw myself into a chair, and at once the blessed baptism came I seemed filled with all the fullness of God. I wept for joy. All night long I wept. All the next day, at the family altar, in the street, and in the sanctuary, tears continued to flow. The fountains of my being seemed broken up and my heart was dissolved in gratitude and praise. My soul seemed filled with pulses, every one thrilling and throbbing with such waves of love and rapture that I thought I must die from excess of life. At once I had a new and wonderful sense of the presence of Christ. Those words of Jesus were made real to me: "Abide in me, and I in you." I had now an abiding Christ. With Mrs. Edwards I could say, "The presence of God was so near, so precious and so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of anything else. The whole world, with all its enjoyments and all its troubles, seemed to be nothing; my God was my all, my only portion."

The sovereign will of God seemed at once so sweet and blessed that I felt lost, in the thought that God ruled over and in me. I found myself praising Him for every trial, sorrow, disappointment and loss.

My sense of unworthiness was greatly quickened. I felt so small so weak, so utterly nothing, I could no longer pray in the sanctuary, as had been my custom, in a standing position. I wanted to keep sinking lower and lower. And this desire brought a strange pleasure.

I felt a sweet spirit of forgiveness in my heart. It was easy for me to pray for those who had injured me; persons who had become repulsive to me appeared all at once, as possessing many excellences. I saw so much more to admire and so much less to condemn, in the people of God, that it seemed God had "made all things new."

My love for the brethren was much enlarged. Denominational distinction disappeared, and my heart flowed out in tender affection for "all those that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity."

Answers to prayer were continually occurring. The promise was made good, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. " One out of many instances of this nature I wish to relate. During two or three weeks I had scarcely slept at all, first from excess of sorrow and then from excess of joy. Night after night witnessed my utter inability to sleep. Mind and body began to show great nervous exhaustion, which only increased the tendency to wakefulness. One night after retiring, and suffering as before, it occurred to me, "Now ask Jesus." At once I raised my heart in prayer, saying, " Blessed Jesus! I need sleep. Effort will not bring it. I now seek it from Thee; let me go to sleep." Immediately I fell asleep, and continued to sleep soundly all that night and every night since.

My mind became solemnly impressed with the personality of the devil. For several days, it is true, he was not permitted to attack my soul in the slightest manner. For the first time, in my life I was so free from all temptation that I was not conscious of his existence. But it was, only for a time. One afternoon, just as I took my seat in the pulpit, Satan stood at my side in dread personality. To my mental sight he appeared, as never before, fearfully and maliciously real. At once I became unconscious of all beside. He suggested such thoughts as these: "Your present experience is, I admit, very satisfactory. But will it continue? What will you do when these meetings shall end, and these birds are done singing, and all these Christians are gone to their several churches and you shall be alone?" Words utterly fail to convey to another the malignant force of these satanic utterances. But with humble boldness I answered, "I can do without the creature, but not without the Creator. Human sympathy and Christian fellowship are inexpressibly sweet; but they are not indispensable to my happiness or safety. Possessing Christ I have all." "And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (Zech. 3:1-4). At once I had such a ravishing view of the infinite and all-sufficiency of Jesus that my heart glowed with new rapture, as the words of the poet came flashing upon my mind:

"O Lord! I would delight in Thee,
And on Thy care depend;
To Thee in every trouble flee,
My best, my only Friend.

"When all created streams are dried
Thy fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied,
And glory in Thy name!"

Instantly the devil fled, and I was dissolved in tears of gratitude.

Several weeks after this, while riding in a streetcar, I was again fiercely assaulted by this enemy of all righteousness. Thoughts of evil darted through my mind like summer lightning. I remember well how, in former years, I would exert all my mental powers to put from me these vile suggestions. It used to be a mighty conflict, between the powers of darkness and my own puny strength; and it seldom ended without leaving its stain and involving my soul in great spiritual depression. But now, without an effort or a struggle I found myself like a fluttered dove, fleeing to Christ. In a moment the thoughts of evil were gone, and my soul exulted in the triumphs of all-victorious faith:

"The dove hath neither claw nor sting,
Nor weapon for to fight;
She owes her safety to her wing,
Her victory to flight."

The personality and office-work of the blessed Holy Spirit were revealed to my spiritual perceptions as they had never been before. He taught me more of His own adorable being in one moment than I had learned from theological treatises during all my life. And O! What a Comforter He became to me! He seemed to regard me as a little, weak,convalescent child that needed to be carried in the arms and comforted. He had been before my Reprover; but now He sweetly whispered, "No more reproof, no more wounding. I am come to comfort, to heal, to sanctify, and to `abide with you forever.'"

Indeed, all the doctrines of the Gospel at once became luminous in the presence of the Sanctifier. What was formerly a speculative conviction became now a wondrous reality. What once appeared in dim outline, like some beautiful landscape partly revealed by moonlight, now glowed with distinct and golden splendor.

Life has become marvelously simplified and natural. I no longer work for liberty, but as having liberty; not for, but from life. That which before was either impossible, or at least difficult, is now natural and easy.

I do not find this life — what in my ignorance I once regarded it — one of mysticism, indolence, and self -gratulation, but a life of ceaseless activity amid undisturbed repose; of perpetual absence of all weariness amid perpetual employment. Neither do I find it a condition of stagnation. All life involves growth and there are no limits to the possibilities of growth in the life of faith. The more the soul receives the more it is capable of receiving, and the more it yearns to receive.

I have not realized that this experience exempts us from trial, persecution and disappointment. For me the way has frequently been strewn with thorns rather than roses. Unkindness has often wounded my heart. Friends have turned away, sometimes with pity and sometimes with blame. At times I have been in heaviness through manifold temptation, and faith has almost yielded to the outward pressure; but, blessed be God, for sixteen years I have been preserved from all murmuring, disquietude, or fear. The trials have not been too many or too severe. Every arrow has been feathered with love, and every furnace blast has but consumed the dross. I am saved! Saved to the uttermost! Glory to the Lamb!

PHILADELPHIA, PA., March, 1887

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Why Am I Alive?

By Greg Leitschuh

Have you ever had the courage to ask yourself the simple question, why am I here? Maybe you find yourself too busy to think about the philosophical issues of life. Perhaps you are fearful of the answer you may find. This question and the answer we may find is a very important and relevant one as it can influence our outlook on life, the way we live and ultimately our happiness.

Most of us would believe that there should be purpose in life. This life would be dull if we were only here to make a living and survive until another day. Alternatively, if we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that life would become boring and tedious if we didn't need to work and had endless leisure time. We would probably all agree that we need a good balance of work and leisure and that there should be some sort of purpose in the things we do. It seems we were meant for more than just working, raising families and trying to get the most out of life.

Looking beyond even those basic issues, many of us feel a sense of responsibility or even guilt in regard to the well-being of our fellow neighbours in this `global village'. We feel we should do something to improve the quality of life for those who are less fortunate. We all have experienced the joy and satisfaction of helping someone in need and yet we would probably admit that we still feel there is something missing that even the giving of ourselves can't fill. Why do we feel this way?

Life is a "State of Mind"

Someone once said that life is a state of mind. Two people can be in similar circumstances doing exactly the same work and one of them is dissatisfied while the other content. Our attitude is a great factor in how we view life. To put it another way, we are what we think! Even if you are involved in doing a good deed for someone, you know the difference it makes when it is done from the heart rather than from a sense of duty. All of us know that the nature of love is giving from the heart, not out of a sense of duty! Furthermore, we know the effect that love has on our lives. When we truly love another person, life seems brighter as we are forgetful of ourselves and preoccupied with the object of our love. On the other hand, we all know the devastating effect that hatred, bitterness and resentment have on our physical and emotional well-being.

What The World Needs Now Is...

There are in the Bible some interesting verses that shed some light on these topics we've been discussing. The first one comes from Eccl. 3:11 which says that God has put eternity in our hearts. This verse goes a long way in shedding light on the sense we all have that there must be something more. Many of us would say that love is eternal. Where does this innate sense come from? Is it a product of evolution resulting from some explosion aeons ago? Are we nothing but the culmination of matter plus time plus chance, or is this feeling for the need of giving and receiving love put there by an all-powerful infinite being?

The second verse comes from the book of Jeremiah (ch.31,v.3) which states that God loves us with an everlasting love. This verse is one of hundreds in the Bible that declares God's love and kindness in various ways towards His people. If you ask what our purpose in life is and why we are alive the answer would be that God made us for love! That's it! We are eternal created beings, made by a loving all-powerful God who has a special plan for each of us. That plan is to get to know Him better and experience His love. As we become aware of this great truth and experience the reality of it, life will become richer and fuller and we will experience `the peace of God which surpasses all understanding' (Philippians 4.7).

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The Centrality of the Cross-- by Jessie Penn-Lewis

"We need a `fixed point', which acts as a center and a goal, and that `point' in the history of the world — back to the ages before it, and forward to the ages following it — is the Cross of Calvary. It is the central pivot of the dealing of God with the universe in every aspect.

It is because we Christians get away from the `fixed point' of the Cross, that we wander into all kinds of cul-de-sac places, where we lose the balance and right perspective of truth..." "...the Cross...is central for justification, and central for the forgiveness of sins and the justification of the sinner."

Mrs. Penn-Lewis is very clear about this fact. As Christians lose sight of the reality of the Cross of Calvary they lose sight of the core belief of Christianity and become tossed as ships without an anchor on the stormy seas of life.

Having once lost sight of that central fact, the sense of meaning, purpose and direction for our lives is lost. We attend church meetings or "Revival" meetings, hoping to be moved by the songs or the message and to somehow find meaning there. Mrs. Penn-Lewis contends those are not the things we need. We need to move back to the fixed point of the Cross of Calvary. That is the beginning, and ongoing fixed point upon which all of the teachings of Christianity hold together and the only point from which those teachings make any sense for our lives.

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