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Pastor O.S. Hawkins: Finding The Code to a Better Life – Also featuring Rick Smith

Pastor O.S. Hawkins: Finding The Code to a Better Life – Also featuring Rick Smith
“Watch to see what I will do.” – Jesus Calling Episode 71

O.S. Hawkins is the President and Chief Executive Officer of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Hawkins also served as senior pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and is the author of more than 25 books, including the best-selling The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know. He talks to us about his journey to becoming a pastor and a writer, and also about his new books, The Believer’s Code and The Christmas Code. Rick Smith is the founder of Rock Bottom Outreach, an organization the meets people at the time of their need. As a successful coach, Rick had it all, until a prescription drug addiction took over his life and he lost everything that mattered to him. After reaching his own “rock bottom,” through faith and determination, Rick rebuilt his life and is committed to help others who are facing their own “rock bottom” situations.

Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we speak with Pastor O.S. Hawkins. Hawkins is the President and Chief Executive Officer of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Hawkins also served as the senior pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and is the author of more than 25 books, including the best-selling, “The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know”. He talks to us about his journey to becoming a pastor and a writer, and also about his new books, The Believer’s Code and The Christmas Code.

Pastor O.S. Hawkins: Finding The Code to a Better Life – Also featuring Rick Smith – Jesus Calling Podcast Episode 71

O.S. Hawkins: Hello. I’m O.S. Hawkins. Primarily I’ve spent my life as a pastor. First, as a young man out in those wheat fields in Oklahoma, down to the east coast, down on the Gold Coast of Florida at the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale for 15 years, and then finally back in the concrete canyons of downtown Dallas at the historic First Baptist Church in Dallas. But primarily, I like to look upon myself as a husband, and as a dad; as a grandfather to six grandchildren that I love a whole lot.

A headshot of O.S. Hawkins.

I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas; had a great mom and dad. They were married a long time before I was born. They were in their 40s, actually, when I was born–didn’t think they could have kids. They were great, moral people. I never played in a ball game from little league on that my dad wasn’t there, but they weren’t church people. I was 17 years old, and never remember hearing a prayer in my home or seeing the Bible opened in my home when after a basketball game one night, a young man witnessed to me about Christ, and took me the next morning to the Sagamore Hill Baptist Church in Fort Worth where I heard the gospel for the first time, and there trusted Christ as my personal Savior. Not what I ought to be today, but I’ve never been the same since that day. Subsequent to that, my mom and dad came to the Lord, and served Him faithfully the remaining days of their life.

The Start Of A Beautiful Relationship With Christ

As a child, from my earliest recollections of having any idea of what I wanted to do, I wanted to be a lawyer. So if I had a day off from school, if it was summertime, I would–from the time I was 11 or 12 years old–I’d get on the bus over in East Fort Worth and ride downtown and sit in the courtroom all day long watching trials. It became a passion of my life. I started reading law dictionaries when I was a kid, and all my life that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a trial attorney.

I played sports. I played all sports throughout elementary school, junior high school, and into high school. When I got to be a sophomore in high school, I awakened to two very important facts. One is, I decided I didn’t think I was gonna be good enough to play college ball. Secondly, if that was the case, I knew I was going to have to pay for college to go to college because my mom and dad, as much as they’d liked to, didn’t have the funds to help me do that.

I believe there are 52 verses in the Bible…that every believer ought to know

So I quit playing ball when I was a sophomore and started working. I worked two jobs after school and on the weekends. Then when I went to TCU, I did the same thing; worked my way through TCU. As soon as I’d get out of class at noon, I’d go over to Fort Worth Pipe and Supply, drive a forklift, and load concrete pipes onto flatbed trucks. When I got off there at 5:00, I’d grab a hamburger somewhere, and then go over and begin at 6 o’clock working as an orderly in the emergency room at the Osteopathic Hospital in Fort Worth.

They didn’t have much business in there, and between patients, there would be long periods of time where I could study. So it worked out really well for me. I was privileged to learn a work ethic early on and worked my way through school.

I met my wife Susie when I was headed toward seminary. For over four decades we’ve been one in Christ, enjoying a beautiful relationship.

When I went to my first pastorate out there in Hobart, Oklahoma in 1972, I was 24 years old.

Appling Biblical Knowledge To Everyday Situations

The Believers Code by O.S. Hawkins.

You know, one of the greatest blessings of my life was to be adopted, as it were, by Dr. W.A. Criswell, of the First Baptist Church of Dallas when I was pastor down in Fort Lauderdale. We used to vacation, Susie and I did, with Dr. & Mrs. Criswell every summer. He became like a father– not just the father in the ministry to me– but a real father. So then it became one of the real joys of my life when God called me to succeed him in the pastorate here in Dallas at the First Baptist Church. During those days of pastoring there, he was my biggest asset, greatest supporter.I began a discipline then, of every sermon I prepared, I did a full manuscript with all the words studies that were involved in it, the illustrations, footnoted as to where they came from. So over the decades of pastoral ministry, I’ve developed files of thousands and thousands of messages that are fully documented and fully footnoted, and they’ve become a great resource in many of the books that have come from my life.

Most recently we’ve been involved in The Code series. You know I’m trying to unlock the code to Bible Study in people’s lives. The first one, The Joshua Code, is 52 scripture verses every believer should know. I believe there are 52 verses in the Bible–one a week–you could memorize, that every believer ought to know. We followed that up with the Jesus Code. You know I believe there are 52 questions in the Bible that everybody ought to be able to answer before they get to heaven.

The whole Code series that God has blessed so much, that has taken off, is about helping folks to become better disciples and followers of Christ; acquiring Biblical knowledge that will be able to be applied to their lives in everyday situations.

Getting Caught Up In Christ’s Flow

One of the reasons we do what we do, is because of the desire to be people of influence. Influence comes from two Latin words incidentally: “in” and “flow.” And the word pictures of a mighty river that is flowing crystal clear with a vibrant current, and into that river come these little tributaries, and creeks, and streams, that flow into it, and are carried away in its flow. Hence we get our word “influence.” It means we live our lives in such a fashion that others get caught up in our flow.

No one ever had as lasting a legacy and influence as our Lord Jesus Christ. He was a person of tremendous vision. He didn’t just get a few locals and challenge them to reach their communities, but whole nations. He was a man of unbelievable vision, this God-Man, the Lord Jesus. He lived a life of incredible integrity, impeccable integrity. He preached the world’s greatest sermons and practiced everything he preached. Purpose: He was driven. He was moved and motivated by an inner purpose to do the will of God. In doing those things, He became a person of incredible influence.

Your mind is so clear in those early morning hours. It’s a beautiful time to meet the Lord, to take in from His Word, in order to spend the day giving out that life-giving flow.

That’s what we try to do with our books: is try to influence people to get caught up in Christ’s flow.

We all need to have a time of personal devotion where we take in, in order that we can give out. You know I’ve been fortunate all my life, without trying, I get up early. I get up at 4:30 or 5 every single morning. Your mind is so clear in those early morning hours. It’s a beautiful time to meet the Lord, to take in from His Word, in order to spend the day giving out that life-giving flow.

You know, like most everybody else in America or in the Western, English speaking world, I’ve came into contact with Jesus Calling just by being in people’s homes. Whether they were really dedicated Christians, nominal Christians, and some who may not even have been believers. The amazing thing I found, in being in people’s homes is, almost everybody has a copy of Jesus Calling on their nightstand or on their coffee table. It is an incredible way that God has taken this one devotional book and multiplied it millions of times all over the world. The thing I best like about it now are the editions which have all of those verses that Sarah Young speaks about, that are all there at the end of those devotionals, where we can see exactly what those words of Christ are, that edify us, and move us, and inspire us, and drive us to be more conformed to His image.

The Believer’s Code: Repentance And Faith

Narrator: O.S. Hawkins continues to bring his Code series to the world. His new book, “The Christmas Code” brings advent devotions for those to be inspired and reminded about God’s personal Christmas gift to each of us. He also just released a new devotional book called, “The Believer’s Code.”

O.S.: The Believer’s Code, like The Christmas Code, is a little bit unique in that it has a code word every day to live in. For example, one of the Christmas devotions is on Isaiah’s words that “the Lord will give us a sign, that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and you’ll call His name Jesus.” In that particular devotion, the code word for the day is “sign.” It’s a word that you want to write down. Put it in your pocket. Look at it several times during the day. So that word “sign,” that code word for that day is to remind us that day, every time we see a sign–maybe a stop sign, maybe we’re shopping and we see a sign for a sale–every time we see a sign on that day, it should stimulate us to be thinking about the virgin birth of Christ, the bedrock of our own salvation and give glory to God for it.

The Christmas Code by O.S. Hawkins.

So these little code words are designed to help us remember the day’s devotion and put it into practice during the day. For example, one of the devotions in The Believer’s Code is about repentance and faith. What comes first? Repentance or faith? Do we repent before we put our faith in Christ, or do we put our faith in Christ before we repent? Of course, the answer is they’re born simultaneously. They are two sides of the same coin. So the code word that day is “coin.”

Every time you pick up a coin or put your hand in your purse or pocket and pick out a coin, it’ll be a reminder to you of the importance of repentance and faith in your own life on that day. So these little code words are designed to help us apply Biblical truth and remember Biblical truth.

Being Christ’s Hand For People In Need

My vision for “The Believer’s Code” is that it will be a tool that people can use, not just to take in the word of God, but to put it in practice. You know the Bible says that we’re to do that. “We’re to be doers of the word,” James said, “and not hearers only.” It’s not really the volume of Scripture that you read every day. It’s the Scripture that you really get that you can apply to your heart.

All the royalties to all the Code books go to Mission Dignity to support our precious retired pastors and their widows in their declining years.

We’re on a mission here at Guidestone to bring dignity to some forgotten people, and that’s why we call our ministry here Mission Dignity. You know there are hundreds and hundreds, thousands of pastors, their wives, and their widows who so faithfully served Christ for decades–out in seemingly forgotten places–in the crossroads of life, where they didn’t have enough even to live on, much less provide for their declining years in retirement.

So anytime you use The Christmas Code, or any of the Code books. You purchase them for yourself, or you purchase them as many people do for gifts. Whether it’s The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code, The James Code, The Daniel Code, The Christmas Code or the new Believer’s Code, the 365-day devotional; by doing that you’ll be doing also, being Christ’s hand extended to one of these precious people in need.

Narrator: For more information about O.S Hawkins’ Code series, including “The Believer’s Code – 365 Day Devotional” and “The Christmas Code,” please visit

We’ll be right back with the second half of our program, after this brief message from Audible.

As a special offering to you, the listeners of the Jesus Calling Podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. Find your favorite Sarah Young titles, including Jesus Calling and Jesus Always in an audiobook version, and get it for free by trying Check out a small sample of the Jesus Calling audiobook featured at the end of this podcast. To download an entire free audiobook today, go to Again, that’s for your full, free audiobook. Now, on to the second half of our show.

Rock Bottom Outreach: Rick Smith’s Struggle With Addiction

Narrator: Rick Smith is the founder and director of Rock Bottom Outreach. Rick’s hope is to be able to reach the people that the traditional church cannot. Through sharing his testimony of God’s healing and grace over his own struggle with addiction, Rick founded Rock Bottom Outreach to bring hope to people who are at the end of their rope, connecting them to a community of faith, and with resources that will help them walk toward freedom.

Rick Smith: My name is Rick Smith, and I’m 50 years old. I am from the state of Texas, actually Sanger, Texas, a small rural town about 40 miles north of Fort Worth, Texas. I grew up in Irving, Texas from a very dysfunctional home, if you would. My mom was very sickly, very suicidal, very abusive; emotionally abusive, verbally abusive. My parents divorced when I was four years old. I have an older brother, and so we are both overcomers, if you would. Overcomers of a very difficult childhood, where understanding what love looked like was very difficult, and understanding our identity.

Rick Smith speaking to an audience about Rock Bottom Outreach.

Church was never a part of our vocabulary, at least not at home in Irving with my mom and in my immediate family there.

The only time I went to church was with an amazing grandmother named Grace. My only memory of church is when Grace and my grandfather Smitty would take us to church. It was a small country church that the pastor, I remember, would come by every other Sunday. He was a traveling preacher, but usually, even the population or the attendance was maybe, I guess, 10 or 12 people. But you know, back at home, the only time maybe I did even go to church or anything that’s considered a Christian activity, would be maybe for a special event, and that was with my friends. I started getting involved also in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. But again, that education of who Christ was did not come from home.

Losing Your Identity In Christ

I actually received Christ and became a Christian when I was 12 years old. That was at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Marshall, Indiana. I had two coaches that made a big impact on my life. One was Coach Dan Reeves, and then coach Markoe that actually took me to this camp in Marshall, Indiana. And that was the first Scripture I ever learned, which was James 1:12. My first true exposure to salvation in a while was at that camp. That is when I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Actually, part of that decision was hoping that this God was big enough to deliver me from my home life, if you would.

When I was in high school, I was very involved in activities. I grew up as a football player, wrestling, baseball as well. My school friends were more like an extended family more than anything, because of that desire to belong. Because my home life was so dysfunctional, I stayed away from home as much as possible.

When I went on into college, it was more about an academic background, no longer an athletic background, but with a desire to continue in sports. But this time, more on a coaching level, an educator level, if you would.

Actually, part of that decision was hoping that this God was big enough to deliver me from my home life, if you would.

When I got done with the college level, I was primarily just a coach, coaching on the private school levels. I had never at that time completed my teaching certificate, but I was able to coach, and so I was a football coach and a wrestling coach on the high school level. To date, I’ve coached on all different levels, as far as youth level, junior high level, high school level, but I went on to coach at many private schools throughout the state of Texas.

Success to me, came easy early on. I don’t mean that in an arrogant fashion. I mean that from being blessed. As a wrestling coach, I’ve won two state championships. As a football coach, actually now, I’ve been a part of a team that we’ve won also a Texas state championship on the football level. So again, I was very successful as a coach.

I want to believe that made a very big impact in a lot of young people’s lives. I mean, I actually know that for a fact, based on kids coming back years later, just saying, “Hey, you’re my favorite coach. Because of you, I overcame adversity.”

The problem was, again, that was exactly what my identity was: coaching.

The Spiraling Downfall Into Addiction

I’d been coaching about five years, up until that point, but it was in 1997, due to a back injury on a part-time job, that I began taking the pain pills. I didn’t party. I didn’t drink. By this time, I was married with three great kids. But the addiction that started with one pain pill, began to grow into two to three, three to four. And over a 10-year period, that addiction turned into a full-blown prescription pain pill addiction. That truly was the way that I was still able to coach in spite of the pain that I was in.

Whenever you have an addiction to any narcotic drug, whatever the case may be, that becomes your every thought. As opposed to getting up every morning and spending time with God in daily quiet time, your first thought becomes, “Where are my pills at?” That becomes your thought process throughout the day. When the Bible says that we should certainly remain sober-minded and not grieve the Holy Spirit, the problem with any addiction, alcoholism, is we become numb to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That is when we really begin to get in trouble. Because when that Holy Spirit, God in you, the voice in you, says, “This is wrong; go this direction,” you are so numb to that voice of conviction, that you begin to ignore it, and/or do you hear it at all? That’s exactly what was going on to me. Because I was so far into it, it began to consume my life. It began to take on a voice of its own.

So May 2008, on a Sunday after we’d gone to church, even, I got a phone call from a friend. I’d left the house, and he asked me if I was moving. I asked him, “What do you mean?” He said, “Rick, there’s trucks at your house, and they’re loading up.” My addiction basically resulted in my wife of 12 years taking my three sons and leaving, and we’ve never, ever been a family again, as of May 2008. I had a pastor friend of mine that said, “Rick, you’re going to have to hit rock bottom.” I said “Nathan, look around. My wife’s gone. My kids are gone. I’ve got an addiction I don’t even understand.” He said, “Rick, I know you, and you’re not there yet because you want to do things your way.”

…when that Holy Spirit, God in you, the voice in you, says, “This is wrong; go this direction,” you are so numb to that voice of conviction, that you begin to ignore it…

That pastor was exactly right because I should have fully surrendered to my Savior and to say, “Do with me what you will, get me help.” But because coaching was my identity, there was no way I was going to give up my coaching job. I began getting drug tested so that I could see my children. But during our first scrimmage game August 16, 2008, I had my children with me. After that scrimmage game, under the influence of Xanax, which is an anxiety medication, I crossed the centerline of a farm road, and I sideswiped an 18 wheeler.

We walked away, but I discovered what “rock bottom” was at that very moment because there was no way I could talk my way out of what had just happened.

Losing Everything – Finding God

I lost the rights to my kids for a year. I couldn’t drive them. I couldn’t be alone with them. I was forced to step down as the head football coach. I had to interview with Child Protective Services. I lost my home, my finances. I absolutely lost everything, including my health. And so now at 50 years old, I also have congestive heart failure and a pacemaker. But it was on that date of August 16, 2008, that I hit my knees in a dark room in Ponder, Texas. And I cried out to God and said, “If you’re there, I need to know it. Because I would rather take my life than live like this the rest of my life.”

It was during that time my life began to change. I was humbled enough to listen, realizing my way wasn’t working. I did check into rehab. I ended up in a halfway house. I began going to a recovery program. I began getting discipled.

Rick Smith, founder of Rock Bottom Outreach.

It was on that date August 16, 2008, that I fully surrendered to God and the calling on my life, and my life completely began to change. When I turned my life over to God, He began to bless me in ways I never could imagine in all different avenues. He began to heal my pain from my childhood. He delivered me from my addiction. He delivered me from bondage. He began to show me a better, softer way of doing things. For the first time in my life, I began to experience what real Christ-like, unconditional love looks like.

I initially had no idea what God was doing. The word “rock bottom” had stuck because I discovered what rock bottom was. The word “rock bottom” kept appearing all around me, and God gave me the word “steadfast,” which I had no idea why that word had stuck with me. It was during my personal rock bottom that people began to reach out to me that I had never met in my life, or maybe I had briefly encountered. These people began to do things for me that I couldn’t understand because I felt, certainly, they had to get something out of it.

Making Disciples Of All Nations: Rock Bottom Outreach

I began to realize that we had been called to stand in the gap; to take on each other’s burdens. I began to see in God’s word where God said, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” I began to see the true intentions of being a Christ follower was to go and to share that Good News of Jesus Christ. To share in each other’s burdens was to walk alongside of them. I realized Jesus had bridged the gap to God, but somebody, outside the walls of the church, had to bridge the gap and to be Jesus to someone, or introduce them to Jesus.

So it was during that time that God began to show me that my affliction was not just for anything. My affliction was the one thing that taught me the ways of God. That’s when that Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Trust Me and follow Me.”

So Rock Bottom Outreach was birthed out of my personal affliction of walking along someone that’s struggling, being the hands and the feet of Jesus; standing in the gap. So in 2010, Rock Bottom Outreach was born into a nonprofit, 501-c3 ministry, where we are doing authentic relationship exactly the way Jesus Christ intended it by being the church, by being the hands and the feet of Jesus, walking along someone. We do not have a building. We have no physical structure. Everyone with the Rock Bottom Outreach volunteers their time and their resources.

The Rock Bottom Outreach logo.

We’ve been blessed to even work with several high profile athletes that have made the news due to their addiction and alcohol choices. We’ve been blessed to walk alongside them and watching them be able to continue their career outside of the bondage of evil that they had been under, up until that phone call that we had received from them.

My life now, after rock bottom in 2008, looks entirely different. My life appears to be almost a storybook ending. I am right at over eight years sober of prescription narcotics. I have a phenomenal relationship with my three sons. My oldest son is now 21. I have one that’s 18, and the other one is 16. I’m about to graduate from Colorado Christian University with my degree in Biblical Studies.

I also have a phenomenal job that allows me to do the ministry; gives me the flexibility to do the ministry. But I have a joy in my life now like no other, knowing I have nothing to hide. Every day when I get up I still have that freedom that God gave me back.

Jesus Calling: Speaking Directly To Me

I had a friend of mine that had given me the book, the Jesus Calling, and I had not heard of it up to then. It was placed in my hands as a gift, and they told me to read my birth date in there. So I read my birth date, and I’m like, “Wow! That’s unbelievable! I mean, that is just speaking to me.”

To this day, the best gift that I’ve ever received– that was that life-changing to me, that really introduced me to Jesus as my friend, Jesus as a real person– has been the Jesus Calling.

Jesus Calling has been such a such a blessing for what we do.

It’s written in a way that it’s so personal to that individual, that anytime I read it, I could picture Jesus sitting with me at my prayer table in the morning in the seat across from me, speaking directly to me. But it spoke to me on my level, that this book changed my life so much and seemed to be always right on time, that the first introduction to someone that has not been a Christ follower, that’s a new Christ follower– Rock Bottom Outreach gives every one of those individuals a personal size Jesus Calling book with their name on it. We have probably given out several hundred Jesus Calling books.

I have a former athlete, and his father was not sure about God or Jesus Christ, but he hit his own personal rock bottom, and he told his son, “I want to talk to somebody, but I don’t want to talk to a pastor at a church,” and his son said, “You need to talk to Coach Smith.” This father reached out to me at his rock bottom. The one thing that I put in his hands that changed his life, was the Jesus Calling book written by Sarah Young.

Getting Through Your Darkest Hour With Jesus Calling

A favorite of my Jesus Callings, and it talks about surrendering your loved ones over to Me. Because of what we do and how many broken moms, fathers, loved ones, husbands, wives, that reach out that are very enabling, very controlling, this has always been my favorite one: In my own fear of my children, and something happening to them.

It is the one from August 23rd. It says,

“Entrust your loved ones to Me. Release them into My protective care. They’re much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one, as well as yourself. Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to free Abraham from his own son worship.”

That’s just part of my favorite, but that just spoke so much to me.

Anytime parents reach out, and they’re worried about a loved one, this is the one passage that I send them, and just say, “When you began to get anxious, anxiety, and you worry: I want you to read this passage.” Had a mom recent that reached out because her son was about to go before the judge. He was looking at five years to life. It was this passage that carried her through her darkest hour on that date.

Jesus Calling has been such a such a blessing for what we do.

An Introduction To God’s Word

I think a lot of people can be very intimidated by the Bible as a whole. If they don’t understand it, they become frustrated. So this is a great introduction into God’s Word. And that’s how we utilize the Jesus Calling as that “introduction” into God’s Word, for people who say, “I don’t even know where to start in the Bible.” So the bigger version or even the smaller, that has the Scripture at the bottom that connects with that daily passage, is perfect for young believers, perfect for young believers.

If you’re listening to my story and you’re wondering if there’s hope–absolutely there’s hope. There are people that care. There are people that love you. There are people that understand what you’re going through. You’re not alone. There are people that are willing to walk with you every step of the way until you can find your freedom.

Right now, I promise you, there’s hope. There’s hope in Christ. And again, there’s strength in relationship because the kingdom of God flows through relationships. You need to know right now you are not alone, and you do not have to walk through this alone because people do care about you. People do love you. And again, people do understand.

Narrator: For more information about Rock Bottom Outreach, please visit

Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling podcast, we speak with country music legend Reba McEntire. A longtime reader of Jesus Calling, Reba returns to the podcast once again to share a special message about hope and love at Christmas time.

Reba McEntire: I’m really turning over a new leaf for this next Christmas. I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to remember the reason for the season. You’ve got to live for today and be ready for tomorrow, what the good Lord gives you.

Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments, so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit to share your story today.

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