Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘God’

God’s Not Dead and Not to Blame

In Gospel Living on March 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

Newton discovered 3 laws of motion.  Whether you remember those or not, you use them every day.

  1. A body at rest tends to stay at rest until a force acts upon it.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion until a force acts on it.
  2. Force = Mass * Acceleration
  3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite action.

In each of these resides the idea of consequence.  If I want the result of an object to be in motion, then I apply a force to it.  The same if I want something to stop.  Every action has an opposing action.  If I push on a shoebox it “pushes back” in the sense of grip and friction and gravity.  When my force supersedes the force of those forces then the box moves.

We live through these every day.  In fact, you are who you are because of the combined set of choices and events in your life.  You are where you are because of the combined set of choices and events in your life.

We can look through scripture and see this cause/effect:

  1.  Adam and Eve made a choice and had to face the consequence of being banned from Eden.
  2. Cain made a choice to murder and faced the consequence of exile.
  3. Israel made the choice to not cross the Jordan and everyone over 20 died while wondering in the wilderness.
  4. Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it and did not cross to the promised land.

Then the lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the lord’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land.

— Numbers 14:20-22

Many people believe that when God forgives he should also remove the consequences in their lives.  Look closely at the words of God in the passage above.  He pardoned them, which means the associated guilt is removed.  However, the consequence would remain..

Just because you have placed your faith in Jesus for the first time does not mean that all consequences will be removed from your life.  Many times, God allows them to remain for us to remember.  Jesus told the man who had lain on a mat for 38 years to take his mat with him.  Your cancer, your bankruptcy, your nightmare of a marriage and family are all products of choices you have made.  Those might lessen in time, but things could also get worse before getting better.

What am I suggesting?

There are 3 laws of spiritual motion we must remember.

  1. Law of Covenant.  Once you are in the family of God, you will remain there.  It doesn’t mean God will like every choice you make.  In fact, you will be disciplined in rebellious decisions.  Yet, you will still be in the family.  If you sincerely and honestly placed your faith in the action of Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for your life then you are in the family and nothing takes you out of the family.
  2. Law of Consequence.  God does not always remove the results of our choices.  The alcoholic still might have liver failure.  The smoker might still get lung cancer.  The years of fighting might still result in a divorce.  Don’t blame God for your problems that you created through choices.  Our issues are our fault, not God’s.  The randomness you feel is simply a chance to trust.  When it doesn’t make sense will you trust Him?
  3. Law of Causality.  The rule here is that the allowance of God does not equal the action of God.  God might allow things to happen, but not be the cause of them.  For example, the argument is that if God really was love then there would be no hate int he world.  If God was really all-powerful He would stop the evil.  If God was really compassionate, then children would not have diseases.  The reality is that humanity is the cause of these terrible, awful, no-good things!  We brought evil into our world and perpetuate it with our choices.  God has given us free agency to make decisions.

With each choice, consider your decision carefully.  God gives wisdom to those who ask.  He provides direction to those who seek His help.  He also lets us fail if that is what we choose.

Choose wisely, my friend.

I Want a New Drug

In Gospel Living on November 3, 2016 at 8:16 am

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The 80’s were filled with musicians singing about life and love.  Through breakups and breakdowns that make Taylor Swift seem normal, we came through a wonder-filled time of life.  Huey Lewis made famous the song for which this article is titled.  Here are the lyrics.

He wants something that can make him feel like he does when he is with his girlfriend.  He wants to feel that magic.  He wants to feel his heart racing in romance and love.  Has your relationship with God ever been a pulse-pounding, exciting, can’t-wait-to-be-together relationship?  We don’t think about God that way do we?  We don’t consider loving God in an exciting way.  We view our love for God in much more reasonable ways.  Have we ever considered that our  lack of power spiritually and the spiritual atrophy in our churches could be a result of a lack of passionate love for and with God?

In Psalm 85, I sense that the writer WANTS a fresh inflow of the life, love, and power of God.  The term I will use today is “revival”.  I DO NOT mean a series of 3 days, 7 days, or 14 days of meetings where a speaker and musician come to guide us through.  What I am discussing today is our individual and personal responsibility toward experiencing a renewal and restoration of our lives, our churches, our cities, and our country.  America can only be great again by the power of God.  A choice for hope is a choice for Jesus.

What must be done?

  1. We must confess our need for revival.
  2. We need to accept the historical reality of revival.  In the first 3 verses of the Psalm, the writer lays out 6 items of historical reality.  A study of these words reflects wonderful insights into the heart and character of God.  God poured refers to taking pleasure in bringing a blessing to His people.  God restored refers to bringing His people back to the original position with Him.  God forgave refers to His lifting and carrying away of the guilt.  God covered refers to the act of removing something from view by placing between the two (That’s Jesus!!).  Holding back refers to gathering back and letting something die, while keeping back refers to turning away from.  The writer wants us to see that, in the past, God has removed the heat of his anger and turned away from it so that we could enjoy a season of refreshing and renewal.
  3. We must recognize who brings revival.  When we look to man, we get what man can do. When we look to money, we get what money can do.  When we look to an organization, we get what organization can do. When we look to denominations, we get what denominations can do.  When we look to God, we get what God can do.
  4. We must pray for revival.
  5. We must tear our hearts for revival.
  6. We must remove the obstacles to revival. This indicates fellowship, walking with God, agreement with God (Amos 3:3) –- being right with God. The greatest barrier to revival is sin. Are you right with God? Is there sin in your life? Are you living in disobedience to the Lord? Face up to this!  Many years ago D. L. Moody heard Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God will do with one man who is fully surrendered to Him.” Moody said, “By God’s grace, I’ll be that man!” Will you be another? Will you begin now to pray the same prayer for your church, that the world may see what God can do?
  7. We will then enjoy the fruit of revival.  The rest of this Psalm expresses the wonderful fruit from revival.  Just read it for yourself!
8I listen carefully to what God the lord is saying,
for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
But let them not return to their foolish ways.
9Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
so our land will be filled with his glory.
 
10Unfailing love and truth have met together.
Righteousness and peace have kissed!
11Truth springs up from the earth,
and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
12Yes, the lord pours down his blessings.
Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
13Righteousness goes as a herald before him,
preparing the way for his steps.

Are You Handcuffing God?

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm

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“Of course not!”

That is probably your first response.  It would be mine, too.  First, why in the world would I want to do that.  Second, how in the world would that be possible.  Yet, I believe we all too often do this very thing and never realize it.

How does one handcuff a deity?  Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?  So now we consider that if God is all-powerful how could he ever be handcuffed?  Unless, it was in the design of things from the start.  God’s design has been that if we trust his process and obey his procedures then His presence would be provided.

Adam and Eve had the perfect setup.  They had the perfect environment, perfect marriage, and perfect relationship with God.  He established a process and procedural code.  If they would trust, when not understanding, obey, even when it seemed odd, then the perfect setup would have continued.  They didn’t.  Eden didn’t.  Welcome to the land of the sinful nature!

As Israel came on to the scene hundreds of years later, God established a process (sacrificial system) and procedures (law).  If they would have simply trusted and obeyed things would never have gotten out of control.  When you read Judges you understand.

We find ourselves in Isaiah 7 and the prophet is speaking to Ahaz.  He is pleading with him to trust and obey what God has already established.

Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.

Essentially, Isaiah is telling the king that unless he will trust and obey, God will allow a pagan nation to be his tool of discipline.  It will not matter the allies, horses, or army.

Handcuffing God is not about God becoming weak or impotent.  Handcuffing God refers to our lack of faith in the process and plan, and ultimately the heart, of God.  Without a certain level of trust, we set into motion things that God CHOOSES to not stop, as if he were handcuffed from doing so.

So the next time you consider your difficulty, or find yourself in a jam, or are just anxious about your future, ask yourself, “Am I handcuffing God by my lack of trust and obedience?”

Peril of Pragmatism

In Gospel Living on June 9, 2016 at 7:00 am

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I have a scar on my knee from a bike wreck years ago.  I was attempting the “longest skid ever” on my bike on the gravel road on which we lived.  I had successfully skidded 10’ and then 15’.  I wanted 20’.  I came racing down the hill as fast as I could go.  As I reached the best spot to slam on the breaks I hit a hot the wrong way and I was separated from the bike and my knee skidded through the rock and gravel several feet.  My mom told me to leave it alone after she washed it and it began to scab over.

I didn’t.

I picked at the scab when it began to itch.  The healing process was extended and now I have a scar.  Because I disobeyed mom and thought I knew better, I have a constant reminder that strict obedience is my best option.

So it is with God.

In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul is given specific orders on what to do with the Amalekites.  He was to completely defeat them and bring nothing home.  He brought home sheep and goats because he wanted to “make sacrifices to God of praise”.

That’s not what he was told to do.

From the rest of the chapter we discover that:

  1. Partial obedience is complete disobedience.
  2. Making sense to me is not what counts.
  3. Looking good for others is not the same as looking good to God.

We are broken because of sin and seek to live as we want, we see best, or to make ourselves look good.  All around us we find well-meaning people choosing partial obedience or rationalizing their behavior.

  • This child is inconvenient so I will take the “morning after pill”.
  • I don’t want this child so abortion is the only “rational” choice.
  • I have male parts, but identify as a female, so I will be a girl now.
  • If we love each other what difference does it make if we are a same-sex couple?
  • It’s just sex.
  • Living together just makes sense, because we need to see if this will work.
  • Show me where the Bible says I CAN’T do….
  • I go to church, what more does God want?

Many of these ideas have been in the news recently and, quite possibly, are in your family right now.  Our world is broken. We need someone to fix it.  In our minds we believe we can fix what is wrong, but we can’t.  The only one who can repair the damage is Jesus.

I once had a leaky faucet and need to repair the problem.  Being cheap, I attempted to fix it the “best way I could”.  Though I was told how to do it properly, I felt it cost too much and I could figure out a better way.  After several attempts to do it the way I thought was best it still leaked.  When I did it the way the expert told me to, it worked.  Not only did I end up spending the extra money, but I also wasted the time, effort, and expense of trying it my way first.

What happened to Saul is sad, but we live this today.  How long before we just accept what scripture teaches?

Blow the Trumpet

In Gospel Living on April 6, 2015 at 8:19 am

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What am I supposed to pray about?  How am I supposed to pray?  What is prayer anyway?

I hear these questions a lot.  You may have also asked these questions.  As I was reading through Numbers, I ran across an interesting part.

“When you arrive in your own land and go to war against your enemies who attack you, sound the alarm with the trumpets. Then the lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies. Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind your God of his covenant with you. I am the lord your God.”

God wants us to realize that this thing we make mountains out of called prayer is relational communication.  He wants us to have chats, talks, discourses, and discussions with Him.  The idea of blow the trumpet here is that God wants to be a part of our everyday life.  Theologically, I know that He KNOWS everything.  Yet, I need to blow the trumpet on several types of occasions.

When Battle Lines are Drawn
During times of battle, the trumpet would be sounded to gather the army and begin war.  It was the sound all would wait for to begin battle.  We need to sound the alarms when needed.  I am thankful that in our denomination we have the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to help us spread the word about moral and ethical issues we face today.  Yet, we also have our personal spiritual battles with money, family, and choices.  If we are to be as united as Jesus prayed in John 17, we must sound the alarm.  An easy way to do this is in your Sunday School group.  These groups are designed to help meet needs on many levels.  Don’t be afraid to blow the trumpet in prayer.  It is healthy for us to bring to God our battles.  God has not forgotten us, but we often forget God.  Prayer connects us.

When Life is Good
God reminds us here to sound the trumpets during the good times of life.  When the trumpet is blown, the details are not as important as is the public announcement of praise to God.  The private prayer moments of praise are also critical.

When the tax refund is more than expected.
When the kids do well in school.
When the doctor gives a clean bill of health.
When the bills get paid and money is left.
When your teen volunteers information in a conversation.

There are many reasons why we should sound the trumpet in prayer.  Our relationship is more than handouts.  We are to be grateful.

When You Don’t Want To
God includes here those times when you might not want to blow the trumpet.  When we have made poor choices, messed up, or walked away, we might not know how to return.  The prodigal son finally just walked back in humility and the father held a celebration.  Blowing the trumpet during these moments means that you are recognizing your relationship with God even thought you have messed up. You are not flaunting your sin, but flaunting the grace of God as he cleanses you from your stain.   Coming to God in these moments of the burnt or peace offerings is a sign of understanding our humanness and His holiness. 

When There is No Special Occasion
At the beginning of each month, is added in this reminder.  Interesting.  We are to blow our trumpet regularly in order to maintain that line of communication and understanding.  If we make God out to be a 911 call we lose sight of the relational aspect.  Think romance here.  Our marriages get stale because we forget to do the little things when there is no special occasion.  We can get up for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays but do we get excited about Thursdays?  What about Tuesdays?  No?  Why?  We forget that a relationship is not just about recognizing those special moments, but all the not-so-special ones too.

Trust me.  Your relationship with God will become more rich if these are included in your process of life.  Blow the trumpet.  Wait for God.  Watch your joy increase!

#blessed

In Gospel Living on March 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

#blessed

I see this a lot these days and it usually follows something wonderful that happened to somebody.

  • My kids didn’t kill themselves today…#blessed
  • My hair came together this morning…#blessed
  • My grandchild was born…#blessed
  • My husband bought me flowers…#blessed
  • I got a raise…#blessed
  • What a beautiful sunrise/sunset…#blessed
  • Sitting with my family around the fire…#blessed
  • Got to see old friends today…#blessed

It goes on and on.  For those who like to use it as a way of giving thanks to God, be #blessed.  However, I think our culture is shaping us to only think of being #blessed by God when good things happen.  In fact, I would suggest to you that we are so controlled by our culture that it would feel awkward to say you were #blessed when something goes wrong.  People would comment that you might be losing it.  Others might tell you that you are being spiteful, hateful, rude, crude, and otherwise inhumane to speak of being #blessed even when bad things happen. Gary Smalley’s 10th Key is to allow the trials of your life to become #blessed moments for you today.

Was Abraham #blessed to be chosen by God to sacrifice Isaac or only when God stopped him?  MOST of us would say the latter.  How could we say someone is #blessed by the former?  God called Abraham.  God provided him with a son.  God was purifying his faith and motives through this moment.  I believe Abraham was #blessed both ways.

Was Noah #blessed during the years of building or just when he was safe in the boat?  When we are criticized for our beliefs we do not think that as a wonderful thing.  We don’t like to be singled out, made fun of, or rejected because of our faith.  We want to hide it, relax the standards, or ignore Christ because being persecuted is not being #blessed by today’s standards.  However, Jesus said we are blessed when we are persecuted for His name’s sake as the Gospel is being lived out.  I guess the 21 were #blessed, then.

It is really a matter of perspective.  It takes an enormous amount of energy to acknowledge that you are #blessed even during the difficult times.

  • When the car breaks down you can still be #blessed since God is teaching you trust.
  • When you fight with your child you can still be #blessed because God is increasing your patience and communication.
  • When you face loss, grief, or tragedy you can still be #blessed because God is teaching you reliance on Him.
  • When find yourself alone and in the dark you can still be #blessed because God is there with you.
  • When your kids move away you can still be #blessed

Being #blessed is more than publicizing all the good things that happen to you.  Swim on out into the deeper waters of spiritual maturity.  The water may be colder and you can’t touch the bottom, but you are #blessed because God is there too!

Challenge:  Find a way to express that you are #blessed no matter the situation.

How To Be the Right One For The Job

In Life and Culture on February 9, 2015 at 10:29 am

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A recent graduating class of a university was asked whether or not they had any leads on a job.  Not one raised their hand.  We send our kids off to school with the intent of them graduating, getting a good job, and getting off of the “house payroll”.  Unfortunately, we are seeing more return home unable to launch into their lives.  We could debate the reasons for this indefinitely on why launching is not happening.

  • Too busy playing to get a job
  • Unable to commit
  • Parents not cutting strings to promote independence
  • Economy is not in hiring mode

All of these reasons could be actual ones for you.  So how can we be the right one for the job?  How can we increase our chances of getting hired?

“The lord has gifted Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other skilled craftsmen with wisdom and ability to perform any task involved in building the sanctuary. Let them construct and furnish the Tabernacle, just as the lord has commanded.”

  1. Develop your spiritual connection. You have been designed to do certain things well.  God has given you abilities, interests, passions, and direction.  Finding the right job means to start with your spiritual connection.  Getting into closer touch with God allows you to know what job is meant for you.  We can all go “get a job”, but there is no joy in those positions.  When we discover what it is God has designed for us to be and to do we find greater satisfaction, fulfillment, and ultimately, joy!  Think deeply.  Pray fervently.  Listen attentively.  Follow completely.
  2. Identify your spiritual convictions. Once you have come to an understanding of the general job direction it is important to note your spiritual convictions.  As with anything in life, there is good and bad available.  As you begin the application and interview process, scope out the company.  Also, don’t let the company ask all the questions in the interview.  If given the chance, ask your own questions.  These questions might include scenarios of ethical and moral dilemmas.  You don’t want to be caught in an Enron if you can avoid it!  Knowing what your spiritual convictions are will allow you to shape questions that will let you know where the company, management, or direct report stand on important issues.

Entering the job market, re-entering the market, or finding a new place in the market are all occurring right now.   Be patient and wait for God to reveal your course of action.  But also be proactive by developing your spirituality and identifying your convictions.

A New You This New Year

In Decisions, Life and Culture on December 30, 2014 at 9:58 am

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The New Year could also bring a new you!

Don’t we all get to this last week and cannot wait for the New Year’s Day?  Something within us kicks in as we approach this day.  The anticipation of a new year is exhilarating.  We begin thinking about all the good and bad of the prior year and start to make plans for no regrets in the new year.  We make plans.  We write down outrageous commitments.  We resolve.  What if we could just be restored?  What if there was a way, a process, of being restored to the best “you” you have ever known?  What if there was a way to guard against those regrets in the new year?

There is.

God has plans for you.  He does not want to harm you, but help you.  He does not want to hold you back but propel you into the best path.  The plan God has for you is unique to you.  He wishes to restore you to a better position than before.  If we will come back to Him, since we have run off doing our own thing, He will bring restoration.  Come to Him.  Confess your wrong.  Commit to deeper relationship.  That is your part.  (This presupposes you have entered a relationship with God through Jesus Christ as some other time. For more information about starting a relationship, look here.)

What could you expect from this restoration?

Reading Isaiah 54 I found 3 points of restoration.  Israel had been under God’s discipline and were now getting ready to go back home.  God, in His infinite glory and grace was going to restore them in these 3 ways.  I believe that you who have been wayward, nominal, affiliated, or distracted can be restored in these 3 ways also if you do as expressed earlier.

Here they are:

  1. Restore the JOY. How many of us are just not happy?  So many I find have no joy either.  Life has hit hard.  Situations beyond control, some even under control, have created a moment, month, or year that has devastated and/or depressed.  We long for joy and peace.  Our very beings stretch toward any sign of hope.  God wants to restore your joy.  He wants to bring peace to your heart.
  2. Restore the PRODUCTIVITY. We spin our wheels.  We work hard but feel like nothing is accomplished.  We get our pay and wonder where it went by the next day.  Mortgages, debts, fights, and sickness all weigh us down under a pile of bills and guilt.  God wants restore your production.  He will guide you through and give the ability to be busy and beneficial.  He wishes for you, though seemingly insignificant, will begin to make greater impacts at home, work, school, and play.
  3. Restore your CONFIDENCE. If God is for us, who could ever stand against us?  Your confidence will return because of the forgiveness of sin and right standing with God.  Confidence will return because of the strong love of God.  No longer will you feel deserted and destitute, but will be delivered by the very hand of God!

The new year could bring a new you, but not through resolving to do so.  Seek God.  Stay near Him.  Be restored!

Do You Hate Your Job?

In Life and Culture on December 17, 2014 at 8:49 am

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Do you hate your job?

It’s a valid question.  According to this USA Today report, 70% of Americans dislike their job, are disengaged, uninspired, or just hate their job.  Some have a case of the Monday’s every day while others just roam the halls and spread their version of grumpy to every one.

Is this is all there is?  Are we just stuck?  Is there any hope?  How do the other 30% live?

  1. How much does it pay? I remember growing up and considering what job could make me the most money.  It’s all about those Benjamin’s, right?  I had settled on something in the medical field.  I took the courses in HS necessary to get into pre-med in college.  When we teach our kids that money is the object, we sell them short.  Money IS important.  We cannot pay our bills without it, unless your utility company is taking chickens.  If it is, let me know!  The point is that when we make money the sole reason for choosing a path, then we will never be happy.
  2. What skills do you have? Do you remember taking the ASVAB?  Everyone in our High School took it, or at least that’s what they told me!  This assessment tool is designed to provide career guidance for students.  The skills you have, or have developed, can be an indicator.  Yet, just because I can do something does not mean I want to do that for the rest of my life.

In our culture, these are the 2 questions most people ask.  For this reason, I believe most people are not happy in their job.  It is treated as an obligation more than an opportunity, a career more than a calling.  God has the best job in mind for you.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.  Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Have you considered asking God what job is best for you?  If we are going to walk by faith and not by sight, then it is critical that we do so in our job path.  Have you listened to the call of God?  This sense of calling has been traditionally reserved for the vocational minister, but I would refute this notion.  God has a job plan for everyone and it will bring you the greatest satisfaction.

Working in the field that makes the most money will not bring you lasting satisfaction.  Working in the field that best suits your current skill-set will not bring satisfaction either.  If you hate your job, and 70% of Americans do, you might seriously consider spending time with God and finding out what He wants and go obey.

Cartography and the Christian

In Chrisian Life on September 23, 2014 at 6:23 am

terrestrial globe

“Ok Google”

Ding.

“What is the distance between Chicago and Santa Monica?”

“The drive between Chicago Illinois and Santa Monica, California is 2031 miles.”

Maps today are so different.  I remember keeping maps in the map pockets of the vehicle, which now are used for trash.  Whenever travelling, I would bring the maps in and pour over them to make sure we were going to take the right path.  Now we just speak to the phone and it will tell you how to get where you want to go.  Maps…

  1. Reveal big picture in small-scale
  2. Communicates information of terrain, distances in ways all can understand
  3. Guides and shows roads and options
  4. Helps in planning for the trip

The Bible is our map as followers of Jesus.  It reveals the big picture in small-scale.  Consider that in one book you can become aware of the universal problem, solution, and current issues.  If you were to sit and read it like a novel, it might take a while but the revelation would be incredible.  The Bible communicates information important to the journey.  Is this portion smooth or bumpy?  Are there unexpected curves ahead?  The cool thing about the GPS on the phone is that it will also tell you how heavy the traffic is ahead and provide a different route.  Did you know the Bible can also?

Your life is a trip.  Like any trip it helps to have maps and navigation so that you can enjoy the journey.  There can be joy in this life; hope in this life.  The Bible gives us these since it leads us to God.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

 

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