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Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Take notice that this passage begins ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ and NOT the fruit ffof the Christian, the reason being that the fruit belongs to God and is for bringing Him glory. The fruit of the Christian is a myth. When the Bible declares in Matthew 7:16 that people will know us (identify us as Christians) by our fruit and that good trees bear good fruit, the reality is that they will know we are followers of Jesus when they see the Holy Spirit and His attributes in operation.

Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:14)

When we receive the Holy Spirit, it’s a package deal – where He goes His fruit goes and it’s consumer-ready from day one WITHOUT law or regulation. The Christian on the other hand is the shipping crate and it’s his duty is to pop the lid off and display this Spiritual produce to God’s glory.

Let us abandon the notion that we’re babes in Christ and that our fruit needs to mature or other such nonsense. The reality is that in ourselves we will never master these qualities, but we have something better in the Holy Spirit. We just get need to get out of His way (die to our selfishness) and allow Him to do what He desires to do. As a result folks will occasionally notice how loving or how patient we are, at which point we will say, “Dude, that’s not me. To God be the glory.”

It’s not the power of the fruit, it’s the Power behind the fruit.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

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Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Christianese 101

What is Christianese?

Simple words like sin, salvation, fellowship, and gospel could be considered Christianese, if the person you’re talking to isn’t familiar with them. A proper definition would be ‘the terms, catchphrases and theological jargon used by some Christians, commonly from Christian theology and influenced by popular translations of the Bible.’ Christianese (which is in itself Christianese) is something that we’re often told to avoid in conversations. We come upon articles like “The Dangers of Christianese,” that encourage us to cease, but should we?

As far as moderate Christianese is concerned, I would disagree that we should stop, as long as our words are applicable to the conversations in which we’re engaged. I am a Christian and I speak the Christian language in an appropriate manner when it is appropriate.  What typically happens next is a conversation develops. If I use a word that a person does not understand, they generally say something like, What does that mean?” and you know what I do? I tell them what it means and the conversation goes deeper. It’s probably what occurs in your conversations too. Oh, and guess what I do if they use a word I don’t understand? That’s right! I ask them what they mean. As a result we’re not only having a conversation, but we’re learning stuff about each other!

Christianese and Discernment

I was being seated in a diner a few years ago and the waitress asked me how I was doing. I responded as I usually do, “I’m blessed more than I deserve.”

DSCN1750The waitress said, “Oh that’s nice, I wish I was.”

She got the gist of what I was saying.  A conversation was blossoming and I couldn’t wait for her to return to the table. As I sat down, my Christian acquaintance rebuked me. “Ya know, David,” he said in his lovely Australian accent, “she didn’t understand a word you said because you’re talking in Christianese.”

I was taken aback. His words made me feel as if I did something horrible.  When the waitress returned I said not a word except to tell her my order.

A lot of water has passed beneath the bridge since that incident and I have learned much. I realize now that my friend was wrong and I was wrong for listening to him; I had forfeited an opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with our waitress. God only knows where it would have gone — I had been given a measure of discernment and direction from the Holy Spirit, and I ignored it. Shame on me for listening to the wrong voice.

The Real Controversy

The real issue has nothing to do with non-Christians not understanding the words that Christians use, in fact it’s quite often the opposite – they do understand, or at the very least they recognize it as Christian jargon and as a result they are offended. They’re offended because they don’t like Jesus and they don’t want to discuss their sin. If they sense that they’re conversing with a Christian, they go on guard immediately. If they cannot suppress our enthusiasm (often with some undelightful language of their own), they will attempt to leave the conversation entirely.

It is here that some well-meaning Christians (at least I’d like to think they’re well-meaning) have determined to come to their aid. Their counsel: stop talking like Christians! In other words, they want us to take that little light of ours and put a basket over it, or better yet, slide it under the bed before we leave the house in the morning. Talk about quenching the Holy Spirit!  (If you don’t know what Quenching the Holy Spirit,” means, click the link).

Why?

I wonder why my brothers and sisters in Christ do this? Are they ashamed of Jesus Christ and/or their Christianity? Are they embarrassed that they lack boldness and confidence in their faith? Are they trying to protect a relationship? Have they witnessed an overly aggressive believer in operation and therefore want to solve that problem by silencing all Christians? Are they adhering to some false doctrines of their own which prejudices their reaction to the truth? Are they nominal (or minimal) believers? If you’re a Christianese-squelcher, please tell me why in the comments below.

Whatever their reason…

Don’t Buy the Lie

Friends, please don’t buy into their nonsense. I’m not talking about those who muddle a conversation with complicated phraseology or weighty theology (they need to know their audience). I’m referring to us simple folk who desire nothing more than to talk and act like the new creations that God has made. No, instead of rebuking you, I want to encourage you to continue expressing yourself as a Christian should and to be ready to answer any questions that arise, being sensitive to the reality that folks might not understand a word or a phrase you’re using. Also be sensitive to the fact that a Christian conversation is not a Gospel presentation until God says it is. It is when we attempt to force the latter upon an unwilling audience that we often bruise or become bruised.

He that saith he abideth in Him (Jesus) ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. 1 John 2:6

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“My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” Daniel 6:22-23

Everyday approximately 250-300 Christians (on average) are caaamurdered simply because they believe and follow Jesus Christ. I have often wondered why Jesus doesn’t *spare His faithful as He spared Daniel or as He protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Despite occasional bewilderment, to this truth I cling: Jesus saves — He always has and He always will. Daniel could have been eaten alive that day, but he would have still been saved. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have burned, but yet saved.

The reality is that Daniel did eventually die and Jesus spared him again (and permanently this time) from the lion; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all died, and again they were spared from the fiery furnace, but this time for eternity. You see, the lion’s den and the fiery furnace, although quite real to Daniel and the boys, is a picture of hell for us; a visual depiction of God’s promise to protect His children. However, for those unrepentant souls who falsely believe they can destroy a Christian, there is no such sparing. For them the lion waits and the furnace burns.

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36

Rejoice Not

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth , and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth; Proverbs 24:17

As you pray for the persecuted church, pray also for those who persecute. Remember, the Apostle Paul was once a vile persecutor of the brethren, but he turned away from evil, turned to Jesus, and his life was spared. Everyday there are stories of evil men rejecting the gods and tenets of their false religions and being saved when they turn to Jesus Christ. I’m not certain how our prayers fit into the equation, but nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is coming along side these men and convicting them by their own wicked deeds, and they are repenting!

Remember to also pray for how the Lord wants to use you in your religious freedoms, I should add, ‘while you still have them.’ Christian persecution has arrived on the shores of America and has taken root. I say that, to say this: it will never be more easy to share your Christian faith as it is right now, as tomorrow brings more detractors and new deterrents. Do not fear the mouth of the lion or the heat of the furnace, for from these things we have been spared.

I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish , neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. John 10:28-30

*Note: Jesus does still occasionally  ‘spare’ his children from earthly atrocities. I remember hearing first hand from a Christian pastor (in India) who himself was tied to a tree to be burned. They piled wood about his feet and doused it with kerosene. When the match was struck and tossed upon the wood, it did not ignite. Match after match, nothing happened. In frustration, they left him tied to the tree with the promise to return in the morning to finish the job. In the middle of the night one of these men, convicted by his evil deeds, returned and cut him loose.

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:3-5a)


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“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:6-11)

Let No Man Deceive You

“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic… No religion condones the killing of innocents.” President Obama, September 10, 2014

The argument that ISIL is not Islamic is ludicrous: every single member of ISIS/ISIL 91014claims to be a true Muslim.  What the president is trying to falsely establish is that ISIS (or ISIL, as he prefers) may say they are Islamic, but they are not. His agenda is to propagate the fictitious tenet that Muslims are a peace-loving people. In the light of massive amounts of horrific evidence to the contrary, that is a boldface lie. The POTUS can repeat the ridiculous comment, “No religion condones the killing of innocents,” until he is blue in the face, but the Islamic Quran contradicts him over one hundred times.  As an alleged student of the Quran, President Obama would know this — according to Islamic doctrine, it condones, supports, and encourages the killing of innocent people.

Reprove Them

You may not be a student of the Qur’an (I’m not, nor do I recommend it), but finding directs quotes from their manual is straightforward. Read these snippets for yourself and you decide if Islam is evil; you determine if the Islamic religion condones the killing of innocents.

  • Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them (2:191)
  • Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an (8:12)
  • Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood (9:123)
  • When opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you catch them (9:5)
  • Kill the Jews and the Christians if they do not convert to Islam or refuse to pay Jizya tax  (9:29)
  • Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable (3:85)
  • The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them (9:30)
  • Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam. (5:33)
  • Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin (22:19)
  • Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them (47:4)
  • The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them (8:65)
  • Muslims must not take the infidels as friends (3:28)
  • Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels (8:60)

Here’s the reality. There ARE peace-loving Muslims, but the REAL Muslims hate them and want to kill them [because] they aren’t true Muslim believers. I would agree — a peace-loving Muslim is a Muslim in name only. In other words, if you are a Muslim and you love Christians, Jews, and the notion of residing in peace with them, you are not following the directives of the Quran, you are a false Muslim – true Muslims kill (or desire to kill) Jews, Christians, and whoever they perceive to be false Muslims. In this particular case these true Muslims have gathered as a militia and collectively call themselves ISIS. They also go by other names, such as: Hamas, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Iranian Revolution, Islam Hadhari, Salafism, Taliban, and Islamic State (IS/ISIL/ISIS)

Who Cares?

So the president lied (again) — what difference does it make? After all, doesn’t the Bible say…

“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1-2)

It most certainly does! I’m not calling you to fret, but to be informed. God has reminded us that we are in the last days and there will be those (like our president) preaching peace and security (where there is none), and luring us with their lies towards false gods. We must not slumber, but watch and be sober, and maintain our vigilance for we don’t know the hour of the Lord’s return. We have been called to recognize the signs of our times and to warn others.

Don’t Be Fooled

The president’s words serve to deceive.  Oh not that these (or any) singular remarks unto themselves can change the course of history; no the danger lies in their rapid accumulation. If we allow ourselves to be fooled, or lulled into a false sense of security, or worse, buying into the heresy that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, we will find ourselves in the midst of a one-world government and a one-world religion. Again, don’t fret — these things are inevitable; they are going to occur and we cannot prevent it, but we mustn’t be caught unaware; we must be wise to their development. In these last days we must ramp up our resolve to reckon our flesh dead and to function in and by the Holy Spirit.

People die every day believing the lie – what efforts have we made in seeking the Lord to identify these lost souls and to share with them the truth of the Gospel? Our days are numbered and the lies are heaping up so fast, we quickly forget what the last one was! Be alert, be vigilant, be loving, be bold in your faith, and exercise your religious liberty while it is still a liberty.

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables…be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

*DISCLAIMER: It sure sounds like I HATE Muslims. I don’t. I love them. I desire that they repent and turn to Jesus for salvation. I have no desire to kill or behead them if they refuse to believe the truth of the Gospel. I share the message in love, and if they receive and embrace it, good for them! If they don’t, they have been lovingly warned.

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And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29

We Know

Reflect upon what God has already done.

Now top that off with the reality that He has predestined our Spiritual inheritance: Christians are by faith children of God (non-Christians are not His children; they are His yet-to-be adopted creation). This isn’t some kind of Calvinist/predestination mumbo-jumbo (I consider myself neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian); the relevant facts are that our Father, having the ability to see both the end and the beginning (and everything in-between simultaneously) knows who His followers will be and pre-ordains them. Therefore, Christians in a very real sense, have been covered before they even knew who Jesus Christ was. Looking back, we can now identify with His mission and having been called according to His purpose; it all makes sense.

They Know

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:18-21

What about the fate of the unbeliever?

The same destiny theology applies, but in reverse: that person is condemned to a God-less void. Why? Because they have rejected Jesus and His grace all the way to the grave. It’s called the unpardonable sin; given a choice, they chose unwisely (take note: God knows them and we do not).

God’s Word gives us the reason for their errant behavior, and it’s not due to a lack of theological or intellectual understanding (the Gospel is the simplest of messages; so simple a child can understand it). No, his reasons are purely selfish: he loves sin more than anything else and rejects the only One able to spare his life. God has not condemned this man as much as he has condemned himself.

Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:30

What Else Do We Know?

We know the word glorified in this verse is in the past tense. Our glorification, although not established on earth, is perceived to have already occurred in the eyes of the Father. Those who are in Christ are seen as God’s children and the offenses we have committed are supposed to have never occurred. God sees us clothed in the righteousness of His Son; a sinless state. If we can realize this truth and take it to heart, suddenly our praise and service will no longer be a fleshly endeavor to gain favor with the Lord. In so doing our praise and service is based on position rather than proposition. Positionally, we’re beneath the spout where His blessing continually and consistently flow out. Occasionally we may choose to reposition ourselves (moving away from the ‘spout’), but hopefully that occurs less and less as we mature in faith.

If it’s True For You, Then It’s True For Them Too

Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Mark 8:22

If God sees me in my glorified state, then that means (gulp) He sees every other Christian in the exact same way. What does this passage from Mark’s Gospel have to do with that issue? Immature Christians (immature in a treefavorable sense) tend to view other Christians like trees. We’re often stumped by their behavior, we leave them alone, or we cut them down. Occasionally we even see other believers as dead wood; mere obstacles on our spiritual path.  If God sees them in their glory, why do we see them otherwise? Doesn’t Jesus want us to see them as He sees them: heirs to the greatest inheritance of all time? Is it not audacious to criticize Christ’s bride?

As long as all Christians are in the same book, we don’t have to be on the same page. I remember once criticizing a brother in Christ for the manner in which he shared the Gospel. He wasn’t violating any Biblical ordinances, but I made the mistake that so many of us make: he wasn’t doing it the way I would do it. Here’s the irony – I wasn’t doing it.  Naturally, the Holy Spirit was quick to convict me. Wouldn’t you know it, I now come across Christians who don’t like the way I do it.

Oh how true the verse…

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

Back to the Book

That’s not to say we cannot judge, correct, or admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ. Quite frankly, if we’re aware of errant theology or impious behavior and we don’t offer correction in a Biblically prescribed manner, we’re culpable. So while it’s true we can all be on different pages, it’s vitally important we’re all in the same Book. The truth of Scripture is the narrow path with which we must always align ourselves.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Ephesians 4:32 & 4:15; Galatians 6:1)

Sheep Herders

Do you see the flock or men walking as trees? Are you critical or supportive of their words and deeds? Could it be said you’re trying to put square sheep into treeeround holes? Are you able to delegate and facilitate the efforts of the flock corporately and the sheep individually? Has that one sheep actually gone astray or is she really deep within a niche God has carved out for her? Are you offended that some sheep are being led by the Holy Spirit and not you? Is it possible that congregationally there is not enough missional opportunity and some sheep don’t have a place to flourish in their faith (for God’s glory, of course)? Is God revealing that the nook He carved out for them is possibly an opportunity for the church as whole? Can you recognize body parts and their functions? Is everyone in the same Book?

“For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)

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Speaking generally, it seems to me that the American church is about making converts to Christ, rather than disciples of Christ, in direct violation of God’s precise instruction found in Matthew 28.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

What if schools did this. What if they simply handed out diplomas without dipenrolling any students? What if students were enrolled, but were not required to observe, learn, or apply any of the curriculum? Would they remain in school? Would they flourish afterwards? Would their diplomas be of any worth?

Two Noteworthy Problems

  1. Most Christians don’t share their faith at all.
  2. Many who do, do so errantly.

The church is very much aware of the first issue: Christians have a tendency to hide their light under a basket. Statistics reveal that ’80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.’ (Jon D. Wilke, Lifeway.com August 13, 2012)

As a result guilt often kicks in and the Christian, motivated by his flesh rather than the Holy Spirit, sets out to correct the offense. As you can imagine this leads to the second problem: a wayward focus on conversion over discipleship; the shunning failure to declare the whole counsel of God. The probable reason we keep doing it is because occasionally it works; every so often a convert becomes a disciple.

There must be a better method.

What if we did it Jesus’ way?

What if we focused on enrolling students (aka: disciples) and emphasized learning? What if the church stressed and affirmed through education: spiritual growth, holiness, fear of the Lord, Christ’s supremacy, submission and obedience, abiding in Christ, fruitfulness, evangelism, love and forgiveness?

What if we echoed Christ’s clarion call:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

My brothers and sisters in Jesus, our methods lack Holy Spirit proficiency. Sure, some converts make it. I suppose if you fill a school with children and required nothing from them, perhaps a couple or three might decide to do some *work, but we all know that most will not. But isn’t this what the church typically does? Are we not guilty of handing out diplomas and then sitting back and waiting for disciples to appear? How many people have to leave the church or abandon their faith before we realize the error of our ways?

Can’t we see how large a role ignorance has played on both sides of the equation?

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Final Thoughts

Imagine the farmer planting his crops. Tell me, what occurs if he fails to first clear the land of boulder and brush; if sun-baked soiled is not tendered with the spade? Will the seed germinate; will it blossom and bloom, will it bring forth fruit? I’m seeing a liability issue. If you dare, consider if it is the seed’s fault or the farmer’s that the ground was not properly tilled?  I submit to you that Jesus was addressing the farmer in all of us when He said:

“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:3-8)

*You may have noticed I mentioned the word ‘work’ in the text. Please understand that I am in no way suggesting or implying that there is any work a person can do unto salvation. Christ Jesus started and finished the work on the cross (nor am I suggesting that we ‘make’ disciples. That is another work of God and we are His instruments). I am however suggesting that work (discipleship if you will) follows salvation. The Christian who rejects work is playing with fire, just like the gardener who rejects work should expect weeds.

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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