My Bucket List (2014)

I have dreams…

Really, I do! And that is a good thing. Even though I just turned 46, which is 6 years over-the-hill and that much closer to assuming room temperature, I can still dream of things I would like to do while on this earth.

There are some things on my list, or in my bucket, or however you want to say it, that are serious, even profound. On the other hand, there are some things that I would like to do, see, or acquire that are purely for fun.

Check out the list below and see if you can tell which ones are realistic, serious, or just plain crazy.

I would like to…

  • be the best dad ever in the history of the world
  • fly in a vintage WW2 and/or jet-age fighter (especially a Spitfire or F86 Sabre)
  • drive a Shelby Cobra, a 1971 Jaguar E-type, a Ferrari, and a 007-like Aston Martin DB5

I would also like to…

  • see one politician act like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • see prayer allowed in schools
  • see someone pray, like Daniel, in the public arena despite the threats of prosecution
  • see Ronald Reagan come back from the dead and say, “Everybody get off the stage, cause I’m running again.” Of course, I would be happy to see Lincoln, or Jefferson, or even JFK do the same.
  • hear one American president tell terrorist-sponsoring nations, “We’ve been nice with our ‘smart bombs,’ but we could go back to the way we did things in the 1940′s…ever heard of carpet bombing?”

I dream of going to…

  • Israel
  • London
  • Moscow
  • Disney World, again
  • Narnia

I would love to meet…

  • A sitting president (two, if Obama was included)
  • Billy Graham
  • Rush Limbaugh (sorry, folks, I’m a conservative)
  • Lindsey Lohan (just to tell her there’s a better way to live)
  • Justin Bieber (and ask, “What is your deal, dude?”)
  • Roger Whittaker (and take my little girl, who is a huge fan)
  • A real stay-at-home mom (or dad) who made a fortune with a work-from-home business they heard about on a commercial.
  • Mel Gibson (to tell him that God still loves him)
I would love to play…
  • a Stradivarius
  • like Tommy Emmanuel (please watch), Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, or B.B. King
  • a game of chess with a computer – and win
  • the lottery (with money I found) – and win
  • a minor part in a movie with Sean Connery, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • In front of Simon Cowell and hear him say, “Others may have the X factor, but you have the ‘WOW’ factor!”
I would love to have…
  • an iPhone 6, or whatever they call it
  • the ability to fly at will
  • a new suit that fits
  • a cheeseburger that doesn’t make me fat
  • hot dogs that tree-huggers wouldn’t complain about

But most of all, when all is said and done, my greatest wish, my greatest dream, is to hear God the Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Everything else – the memories of what I did, the places I saw, the people I met, the things I owned – will pass or fade away.  And that’s OK, because nothing will compare to the glory that awaits in the presence of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the meantime, if you happen to own a 427 Cobra, or extra tickets to the Holy Land, you could make a dream come true…call me anytime.

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Meriam Ibrahim, and Others

What’s Important?

Last night I had a nightmare which woke me from my sleep. Later, while I was awake – after I went ahead and took the dog out for an early potty walk – some blog post ideas came to mind. Then, because I didn’t write them down, I forgot what they were. Typical.

But what is more important, writing about some inconsequential idea, a loosely relevant theological concern, how coffee relates to living, or the life/death struggle of a Sudanese Christian mother?

Seriously, we writers get on our soap boxes and clutter up the internet with petty complaints about cat pictures and the latest trash (I’m sorry, “art”) from Hollywood, but how often do we rally together for the lives of the innocent?

Really, what is more important?

Sadistic Sudan

Let me just be as plain as I can: any government who would execute a young mother because she is Christian is satanic, sadistic, and worth of no respect. Let me also say that any government leader who has in his power the ability to stop the execution, either by way of threat or diplomacy, and does not, is equally satanically influence – if not simply an accomplice to murder. Bold enough?

The government of Sudan, after releasing Meriam Ibrahim from prison, arrested her again, today. At one point she was going to receive 100 lashes for having sex with her Christian husband, then be hung for apostatizing from Islam (even though she was never a Muslim). After enough people rose up in her defense, she was let go. However, they have once again arrested her, but for uncertain reasons.

What’s more, Meriam is married to an American, which makes her newborn son an American. Excuse me, but do we have a president, or not?

President Me

I am going to go out on a limb here. Many of you who read this are not from America, so please forgive me – I don’t want to offend. However, if I were the president of the United States of America, one of my first and foremost duties would be to make our enemies, including nations that imprison our citizens, fear what we might do.

For example, Mexico has one of our soldiers in prison, all because he accidentally crossed the border with three weapons in his vehicle. Even though he voluntarily turned himself over to border guards, Sgt Andrew Tahmooressi admitting he had misread road signs, instead of turning him around, they put him in prison. EXCUSE ME, but how many times do Mexican soldiers cross our border?! How man illegals cross our border every day and are allowed to stay? If I were president, I’d say, “Let our boy come home, or the next group of your guys to “get lost” crossing our border as they are protecting drug smugglers will meet with an untimely disappearance.

Iran is holding an American pastor. Despite cries of protest from around the world, they continue to hold Saeed Abedini and torture him. If it were me, I’d say, “Let him go, or else – and you don’t want to find out what the “else” is.”

Gone are the days when a threat of retaliation from America was taken seriously. What would Harry S. Truman have done when Muslim terrorist were capturing our soldiers and contractors, holding them hostage, then cutting off their heads in Iraq? Anyone remember what Japan looked like in 1945?

You see, it’s like this – we still have the power, but no moral authority or guts in those with authority. If it were needed, today there would be no Normandy, Iwo Jima, or even Gettysburg; our leaders, even many of our citizens, aren’t willing to take a stand.

I’m Angry

I am simply angry. I am furious. I am indignant. We have politicians who are cowards and a president who won’t do anything if the action may offend a radical, sharia-based government.

We have citizens who are genuinely suffering, possibly about to die because of their faith, and yet we release known killers in exchange for traitors.

A young mother and her family is fearing for her life, but our President won’t do anything about it – yet he goes to a summit complaining about a “war on women” in the United States. A young Christian pastor rots in an Iranian prison, but our President is considering working with Iran to fight ISIS. A young soldier languishes in a Mexican prison, but we continue to allow multiple thousands to cross our borders unchecked.

I’m ticked off, and I have every reason to be. We are no longer a sleeping giant our enemies don’t want to awake, but a weakened fat man with no locks on his doors.

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Filed under America, current events, General Observations, politics

Just Being a Fan

Not a Follower

Not too long ago Kyle Idleman wrote a book entitled Not a Fan. As a matter of fact, I led one of our adult Sunday School classes through a chapter-by-chapter study of the book. The idea is that we are not called to be simply “fans” of Jesus, but followers.

Let me set things straight – I am a fan of Building 429, not a follower. I simply adore these guys as a band, but I don’t put them on a pedestal, memorize their birth dates and favorite colors, or have posters of them on my wall. All I’m saying is that when I say “I love these guys,” I am not equating that “love” with the “love” I have for the Lord.

I am just a FAN of Building 429.

I’m a Fan

The word “fan” comes from the word “fanatic,” and some people’s obsessions with music groups are expressed in fanatical behavior. I would consider myself a fan, but not a fanatic.

However, I have to say that every time I have seen these guys perform it has been a blessing. That is why last night I stood in the rain at an outdoor Christian music festival (JFest 2014) in order to hear (and watch) them sing. Some may describe my behavior as “fanatical,” but I knew the show was worth it.

I first became acquainted with the guys from Building 429 when they stopped by the Cracker Barrel in our neighborhood. They were on the road to a recording session when they stopped their tour bus for some Southern cooking, only to be on the receiving end of my legalistic, self-righteous judgmentalism. That lead to a conversation which you can read about HERE.

New and Favorite

If you are sadly unfamiliar with Building 429, let me share with you a couple of videos.

The first one is of their latest release entitled “Press On.” Well, it’s called “Press On,” but the actual title is too similar to another song sung by a former Disney star while swinging nude through the air (“Wrecking Ball”).

The idea of this song is that no matter what the world throws at us, we should just “press on.”

The next video is from a couple of years ago, but it has to be one of my favorite songs. The words of the chorus are ones I often repeat: “All I know is I’m not home yet. This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong.

Oh, hallelujah! I’m not home, yet! 

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20 Years! Take That, Devil!

We Were Young

It was a beautiful day in 1994 when my beautiful bride agreed to subject herself to a life with me. Had she known what she was getting into, she might have backed out. Of course, she would be the first to disagree with that assessment.

wedding picture oneWe were young, even though we were in our mid-twenties. It’s hard to say, however, if we had any idea how things would be once we reached our 40′s. I must say, though, that it’s funny to think back at how we thought we were starting marriage a little late. We were so young, full of energy, potential, and hope.

My wife just said, “I really thought we were old.”

The Odds Were Stacked

Most people are aware of the odds against people staying married for any real length of time. But what most people are not aware of are how dramatically the odds turn against long-term marriages when just a few factors are thrown in.

A marriage made up of two people from perfect backgrounds, with no emotional baggage, will inevitably have its struggles. But when you take two people who bring into a marriage enough emotional and spiritual baggage to fill a cattle car, well, the odds of staying married are not great. Thankfully, we serve a God who doesn’t care about the odds (Prov. 16:33).

We Started Right

I can’t tell you how many marriage proposals I have seen on YouTube! Some were so elaborate…I mean, how’s a guy to compete with a million-dollar musical?!!

Let me tell you how I did it – I took her to the altar. No, I’m not talking about going to the altar to get married; I asked her to marry me at the altar.

wedding picture fourYou see, the first time I quasi-proposed (I never really asked her to marry me) was when we both picked out her first ring – yes, her first ring. Then, later that evening, like an idiot, I took it back because “I wasn’t sure about things.”

The second time was a little different. After being told not to come back unless I brought a bigger ring, I bought a full-carat solitaire and went to church.

During a communion service, one in which it was our custom to go to the altar and pray before we partook of the elements, I asked Valerie to go with me. Once we knelt, with both of us holding hands, I officially proposed in front of God and everybody. I wanted our marriage to be something built on a holy foundation, so after she said “yes,” our first meal together was the Lord’s Supper.

Still At It

When I say we are “still at it,” you can take that any way you like. The fact is that we still struggle, still have arguments, and still act like people who never learn. But on the other hand, we still pray, still play, still love, and still worship together, and we’re still married.

20 years, and counting!

20 years, and counting!

There’s nothing wrong with people who never struggle, somehow always on perpetual honeymoon. However, any marriage worth working for, worth fighting for, will leave a few scratches on your wedding band.

My advise to others? Just keep at it.

“This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:16).

 

Happy anniversary, Valerie! I love you!

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Life Lessons, Relationships and Family, wisdom

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

Happy Father’s Day!

Lord willing, my sermon for Father’s Day will be from the book of Joshua…

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15 KJV

There is a portrait of my family hanging in our living room with the above verse written below it. There is a lot to be said about a father who will say those words. There’s a lot to be said about a father who won’t.

Tuff Stuff

I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing a lengthy post, but I do want to leave you with a list I found in a sermon by a Wesleyan pastor, Bruce Howell. I don’t know if he came up with it or if he found it somewhere else. All I know is that it is convicting.

There will be a lot of people talking about how to be a better dad, but if you want to know how to fail, here are 10 sure-fire ways to screw up.

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when guests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
2. Stifle your children’squestions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little hearts desire.
7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.

Help us, Father God, to be more like you.

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What Are You Worth?

What would you die for?

What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.

The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? If so, you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Pretty foolish.

What about non-concrete items, such as pride? Some people are willing to fight to the death, or kill others, when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be wrongly perceived.

Is family worth risking your life?

Photo: Andy Britt

Photo: Andy Britt

Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society has a difficult time determining the value of life; one life is not as valuable as another if convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.

I would risk my life to protect my family, and if you doubt it, try to hurt them – I carry more than a big stick.

Many, however, kill their own children before birth.  It seems to me that society values gold more consistently than life itself.

Are you willing to die for what you believe?

Now this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s OK. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance. A martyr is one who would rather die for what he believes than deny it.

Is your faith worth dying for?  If not, then how much do you really believe?

How much is YOUR life worth?

Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, right? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you.

Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own. Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s. Your worth against theirs.

Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange.  That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?

On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV

That would make your worth INCALCULABLE! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilt and failures as His own, and payed the death penalty for sin on your behalf.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Corinthians 5:21 KJV

That makes you valuable; Jesus unique. How many others have done what He did for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse.  Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person.  But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc?  Jesus did.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV

That’s the whole reason for Christmas, you know.  Jesus had to come to earth as a baby to grow into the Man that would willingly go to a cruel cross.  The gift of Christmas is the gift of life, purchased with the life of the Giver of Life. How ironic is that? And how wonderful?

Let’s Review

  • "Forgiven" by Thomas Blackshear

    “Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear

    Jesus Christ suffered the most excruciating death Rome could conceive, crucifixion…for you.

  • The Prince of Peace was shredded by a “cat of nine tails”…for you.
  • The King of Kings wore a crown of 4″ thorns…for you.
  • God became flesh so the world could know Him…including you.

Don’t believe the lies told to you by Satan, the culture, or your depressed emotions. Your life is of immeasurable worth because of the immeasurable price offered for it.

If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?

 

If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.  Your life is worth it.

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Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, Love of God, salvation, self-worth, Uncategorized, World View

In My Father’s Honor

A Strange Day

Today is a strange day. I am alive.

Now, being alive shouldn’t be that big of a deal for most people, but it is to me, especially on THIS day. Today is the anniversary of my father’s death.

Anniversaries of deaths are not uncommon, either. But what makes today unique is that I am the same age that my dad was when he died. He was 46 – I am 46!

I woke up this morning and saw the sun, which is something my daddy never experienced on June 11, 1991 (well, I’m writing this ahead of time, so I hope I will). He woke up and saw the Son, which is something I still long to do.

Tough, Yet Humble

My dad.

My dad.

Those who knew my dad before he became a Christian would testify to the fact that he was no wimp. He knew how to fight, fish, and fire a weapon. Between him and my uncle Don (his brother), there weren’t too many men willing to go toe-to-toe with them.

Yet, once he accepted Christ, he became the perfect example of gentleness, kindness, grace, and compassion. I know of no one any more humble than he was. (Oh, and when his brother finally became a believer in Jesus, the same transformation took place)

Preachers

My dad was a preacher. He might not have been the most eloquent, but he loved the Word and loved telling people about Jesus. Had he been alive today, he would have wept at the state of our nation and where we are going. Above all, he would still be preaching, even harder.

Still Fighting the Good Fight

Still Fighting the Good Fight

I am proud to say that I am carrying on my father’s legacy. I am proud to say that should the Lord allow me to live much longer than my dad, I will continue to preach the Gospel and stand for Truth. As a matter of fact, here is something I recently posted on Facebook.

Backbone, preachers…now’s the time for some honest-to-goodness, strong-as-steel, George S. Patton and John Wayne-like BACKBONE!

I don’t care if you’re Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Methodist, or whatever…MAN UP!! Stand in the gap! Quit being a politically motivated, crowd-pleasing, purse string-tying wimp and PREACH THE WORD!

Check out what’s going on in the world and what’s coming to America. Do you think things are all going to turn out like a big Hillsong praise service if you keep preaching like Joel Osteen?! Folks, what we need now more than ever are some Elijahs, some John the Baptists, some old-school Billy Grahams, some D. L. Moodys, etc. We need more men of God who know the difference between the Word of God and a motivational speech!

Don’t try to be popular. Don’t try to be “cool” and “hip” with the younger generations. Quit fighting over the styles of worship if your congregation doesn’t even know HOW to worship! Forget trying to become more “seeker-friendly,” and just SEEK THE LOST! The world is going to Hell and we are greasing the skids.

Be real. Be humble. Be yourself. Love your enemies. But for the love of God, pastors and preachers, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). In other words, take off the liberal mom jeans and put on some prophet-worthy overalls and get to work. 

His Voice

I wish all of you could have met my dad, Terry L. Baker. Like my wife noted when she heard a recording, he was about “as country as they come.” Fortunately for all of us, I still have a few recordings of his preaching.

Below is an edited version of a message my dad preached back in 1981. At that time he was doing a radio program on WMOC for a local children’s ministry.

Fittingly, the sermon from my dad, based on Deuteronomy 6:4-7, concerns how to raise a godly family. Tell me if you think he sounds a little like me ;-)

All honor and glory be to my Father in Heaven, the One who graciously gifted me with an earthly father who loved Jesus and taught me how to do the same.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, ministry, Parenting, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Dealing With Temptation (the movie)

I had a whole post all written up, but then I erased it. Ever done that before? Sometimes it’s better to start over from scratch if what was written in the first place was forced.

So, here’s the deal: I can’t justify spending 20 dollars on a WordPress upgrade right now, so I can’t upload any audio directly to my blog. Yeah, it’s only $20, but since school let out for the summer, and since I don’t get paid when I’m not driving a bus, $20 is better spent on the electric bill.

Two Sundays ago I preached a sermon from 1 Corinthians 10:13 entitled, “How to Deal With Temptation.”

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:13

Since I could not upload the audio, I did something different – I made a video and posted it to YouTube. No charge to link a YouTube video ;-)

So, if you’d like some suggestions on how to deal with temptation (I hope you know what that is), then watch and listen. Sure, the video is not the greatest, but I tried (and misquoted the Bible, no less).

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Preaching

June 6

d day

Seventy years have passed since the pride of the Allies, 156,000 strong, stepped out of landing craft and jumped out of airplanes into the mouth of a monster ready to eat them alive.

Seventy years have passed since young men from America, England, and Canada (and we must not forget Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) landed on beaches called Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Seventy years ago, long before the fancy rock-climbing walls which are so popular in today’s health clubs and gyms,  the 2nd Ranger battalion “led the way” up the 100 ft. cliffs of Pointe du Hoc.

Seventy years ago, on the 6th of June, 2,499 American and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413, gave their lives for the sake of freedom.

Seventy years ago men were stepping on the backs of their comrades as they sloshed through red water, breathed in the mist of war, and wondered if they would live to see the ground only yards (meters) in front of them.

On June 6, 1944, seventy years ago, it was said of those who landed:

“They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, June 6, 1944

Seventy years later, would we do it again? It is June 6, but are we a people with the stomach to liberate? If we were the ones living seventy years ago, where would we be today?

God help us.

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Filed under America, Countries, Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, World View

Train’em!

Favorite Photo

Just the other day Andy Britt graciously spent an entire day taking photos of my family. Should you need a good photographer, look him up.

But anyway, this picture has to be one of, if not my MOSTEST favorite! It captures the essence of everything I want to be as a parent. If ever my girls happen to glance over my shoulder to see what I’m reading, I hope they find me in God’s Word.

teaching the truth

By the way, the Bible in the photograph is mine. My finger is placed on Proverbs 1:7, which reads: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Other Verses

Maybe I posted this just to show off my favorite photograph…who can blame me? But on the other hand, can I share with you some other passages of Scripture?

  • Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
  • We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: – Psalms 78:4-6
  • And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

Gentlemen, don’t waste an opportunity. Train’em now!

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