Tag Archives: forgiveness

Crimson-Colored Mercy

Don’t ask me why He loved me so; I’ll never understand.

He picked me up and held me close with a gentle nail-scarred hand.

He suffered what was meant for me and after all I put Him through,

Told His Father I was “worth the nails“!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

With crimson-colored mercy He washed away my shame.

Worthless and unworthy, a broken life He made brand new.

But before He changed a think, He loved me anyway!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

 

 – adapted from “It’s Amazing, But It’s True,” by Anthony C. Baker

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, God, Love of God

From Regret to Radiance

No Regrets

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say of life, “I have no regrets.” It amazes me, for I don’t see how it’s possible. How can one look back on one’s life and find nothing regretful?

To be honest, the only people I’ve encountered who actually said that were people who were unwilling to admit they’ve ever done anything wrong. They are the type of people who, when confronted with some wrongdoing which caused pain in others, refuse to accept any responsibility. Therefore, I believe the person who says he has “no regrets” is either lying or in denial.

Many Regrets

Look, I’m not perfect. I’ve done a lot of things I regret. I’ve broken things, lost things, wasted things, and hurt things. I’ve wounded hearts, scarred lives, and wasted ungodly amounts of irreplaceable time.

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Besides the things I’ve done, there’s also the things I didn’t do. For example, I could have told my dad I loved him the day he died instead of storming out of the house and speeding away.

I could have walked away from that relationship before our hearts were broken and our innocence lost.

And speaking of lost, I could shared Jesus with those people before they went out into eternity. But I didn’t, and I regret it.

Moving On

Every once in awhile my past creeps back into my mind, bringing with it the pain of regret. There has even been times when I could echo the words of David when he said:

“I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” – Psalm 6:6 NLT

But like King David, I’ve had to move on. After being judged by God for his sin, David wrote in Psalm 51:8, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice!” (ESV). He begged God for forgiveness, then he accepted it. We must learn to to do the same.

When we fail to accept God’s unmerited grace, we not only waste away (2 Corinthians 7:10), but we open ourselves up to the Enemy’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8). And in case you haven’t noticed, Satan is always ready to attack where we are weak.

Press On

I know it’s hard to do, but we must do even more than move on – we must “press on.”

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

When those painful regrets come to mind, don’t let depression hold you back and weigh you down – press on! Be tough, push the past aside, be disciplined, and press on toward what lies ahead.

Be Radiant

God saw our future, along with our past, when He purchased us with His blood. Therefore, what He has forgiven we must also forgive, and that includes forgiving ourselves. Accept that the past happened, but learn from it and rest in the grace of God.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” – Psalm 34:4-5 ESV

Turn your regrets over to the God of mercy and grace and quit living in shame. He can work miracles with broken things, including your past. You survived for a reason.

You have a hope this darkened world needs to see, so don’t be regretful; be RADIANT! 

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Filed under Depression, self-worth

Is Your Christianity a Sham?

Adorable Sin

It may come as a shock to some, but many who claim to be Christians are not, actually. It is obvious because of their unrepentant love of sin.

For example, I know a person who willfully admits his failures and flaws (which is a good thing), but happily continues to do the very things he knows are wrong. He says, “I know I have a problem with (blank), but I know I’ll never change, so I’ll just have to keep asking for forgiveness.” In reality, the problem is that he loves his sin, and therefore refuses to truly repent and “turn from his wicked ways.” His particular sin is his claim to fame, his identity. Without it, he wouldn’t be noticed.

Am I suggesting that Christians NEVER sin? Of course not! The Bible plainly tells us that if we say we never sin, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Furthermore, just two verses later the Apostle John declares that if we say have have no sin we make God a liar!

But what about 1 John 5:18? Does it not clearly state that “whosoever is born of God sinneth not?” Yes, in the Authorized Version it does. However, the NIV renders the first part of 1 John 5:18 as: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin [emphasis added]…” Similarly, the NLT says that someone who is born of God (a Christian) does not “make a practice of sinning…

No, I’m not saying Christians never sin. What I am saying is that if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, sin may happen, but it’s not what you’re known for. What is being expressed here is the idea of continual, habitual sin – the kind one has no desire to change and even brags about it.

Advice for the Soul

depressorsMy advice to you, dear reader, is that you take a moment and conduct a spiritual self-examination.

David prayed, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart” (Psalm 26:2). The Apostle Paul even urged church members to “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine” (2 Corinthians 13:5a NLT).

The hard, cold truth is that when one claims to be a believer, a Christian, yet habitually, characteristically, and proudly continues in the practice of a particular, obvious sin, his salvation/conversion/Christianity is most likely a sham.

Christianity is not just a label one wears, but a change that is made, both initially and on-going, in the life of the believer. Sin may happen, but when it does, a sorrowful and repentant heart is the result.

Please understand, I only wrote these things “that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4). 

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Filed under Christian Living, salvation

All Lives Matter. Period.

A Prayer

Lord, please help me. Help me, dear God, to say, or rather write, something profitable, something worth reading on this most difficult topic of race.

I need wisdom. I need guidance. May my words contribute to healing, not hate.

 

My Thoughts

I have not been writing as much as I would like, but I felt it necessary to take a few moments to address the whole idea around the rallying cry of “Black Lives Matter.”

Folks, being that I am not black, brown, or transgender (somehow gender has been added to the mix – just check out the website), I admit there are things I don’t understand. But there is one thing I do understand, and my race has nothing to do with this truth: ALL lives matter, not just ones with a particular color or sexual preference.

Let me reiterate. ALL LIVES MATTER.

Yes, I said it, and I will not back down. Why? Because to do so would be un-biblical and un-Christlike. Regardless how one might want to politicize the issue, as a follower of Jesus, as one who believes God made all mankind in His image, I must stand firmly on Truth, not catchphrases.

Racism is wrong. Bigotry is wrong. And taking a statement that excludes the inherent value of all human life as your mantra is also wrong.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I would not have agreed on several things, particularly in areas of theology and what is called the “social gospel.” Nevertheless, I believe Dr. King and I would have seen eye-to-eye regarding the “Black Lives Matter” thing. He would have said, “NO! NO! NO!” to all the violence and hatred. I believe he would be heartbroken at all the calls for unrest. He would certainly be ashamed of those who have used race as a tool for their own gain. Was it not Dr. King who envisioned a “color-blind” society?

If a person can’t say that “all lives matter” in public without being condemned, without being forced to apologize, then what does that say about the lives of others? What about my family? What about the Asian family down the road? Or the Indian woman that walks down the street with her husband and son? What about the Native American?

I guess one could argue the phrase is only meant to bring attention to the plight of the black community in America. One could also argue that by saying “all lives matter” one is, in a way, saying racism in America doesn’t exist. Possibly. But that’s a matter of opinion.

The truth is that black lives do matter, but so do white lives, brown lives, yellow lives, and red lives; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. The proof was when Jesus offered Himself as a ransom so that every tribe and nation could be reconciled with God.

By the way, the majority of aborted babies are black. Do their lives matter? Jesus loves them, too.

All lives matter. Period.


UPDATE: This post has done nothing but depress me.  I regret writing it. 

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Charleston On My Mind

As I sit down to write this, I don’t really know what I am going to say, other than what is on my heart. If I can get it out into words that make sense and don’t confuse anyone, that’s all I can hope for.

First of all, one of my daughters and her husband live in Charleston, South Carolina. As a matter of fact, I was just there last week and plan to return not too long from now. It is a beautiful, historic city. It is certainly worth a long visit.

Secondly, I want to visit Emanuel AME Church when I return to Charleston in a week or so. I want to go to the place where so much attention is being directed and pray for peace.

What is truly disheartening is all the hate I continue to read on Facebook. The hate is coming from from all directions, but much is being aimed at white people, like Dylann Roof is supposed to be the spokesman (and gunman) for Caucasians everywhere. Where do people get all this nonsense? One common suggestion from angry blacks is that they should arm themselves and rise up against white America. Like THAT is the answer! It’s a wrong answer to a false perception that is perpetuated in the minds of those who are as racist as the killer being condemned!

The fact is that what Dylann Roof did was horrible, but it wasn’t the first time people were killed in a church – and it won’t be the last. It wasn’t the first time a white man killed black people – and it won’t be the last. It wasn’t the first time a deranged and evil-filled tool of Satan murdered innocent people – and it won’t be the last. But to suggest that an entire race hates another and that the evidence is the actions of one man? Well, that is nothing more than an excuse for perpetuating existing hatred and racism from a different direction.

The best and most disarming response I have heard, so far, came from Anthony Thompson, the son of slain Myra Thompson (59), as he spoke to the killer himself…

“I forgive you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent, confess, give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that he can change it, can change your ways no matter what happened to you and you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than what you are right now.”

Some have jumped into the fray and asked, “Where was God in all this?” Those who ask that question evidently know little about the God Anthony Thompson worships. They know little about eternal things, and ways higher than their own. They assume that if God was real He must stop all acts of violence; all crimes; any and all sin. They forget that it is by God’s grace they live and breathe, even when they commit murder in their own hearts when they hate. They ignore the fact that love is never more on display than when back-dropped by hatred.

What we saw in Charleston was the result of hatred and ignorance, of evil, blinding the heart and mind of one who was deceived and used by the Enemy of righteousness, and he acted of his own free will. But what we are also seeing are those whose faith is more than words; those whose love is more than a feeling; and evidence of lives truly changed by a God who was there all the time, able to take what was meant for evil and turn it into good.

Now, while I am still putting my thoughts out here for the world to see, let me say something else. Had someone else in that church been armed, Dylann Roof may not have had the opportunity to do as much damage, at least not reload multiple times. I am all for having individuals in my church who are armed and ready for any such threat. We have to be, for things like this have happened before – in white churches, too – and they will continue to happen as long as men hate righteousness.

You may be asking, “But Pastor, how could you endorse carrying a weapon and possibly killing someone?” The answer is really very simple, I think. You see, I am a shepherd of sheep, and a shepherd is charged with the sheep’s protection. If a wolf were to walk into the fold and try to harm my sheep, I would dispatch it. Should a man walk into my church and try to kill my people, my flock, then that man forfeits his status as a human and becomes an animal – I will dispatch him as I would the wolf. Forgiveness comes after the fight.

So, those are my thoughts for the moment. May God’s grace be with those affected by this tragedy in Charleston.

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Filed under America, current events, Faith, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

Powerful Mercy

“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” – Proverbs 11:17

“I Pardon You”

As I thought about this verse, a scene from a movie came to mind. In Schindler’s List, the 1993 masterpiece by Steven Spielburg, two characters, Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, discuss what should be done with Jewish prisoners.

Seeing that Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) was a cruel and sadistic concentration camp commander, Schindler (Liam Neeson) tries to convince him that the greatest exhibition of power is not in killing people, but pardoning them.

Schindler:  They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power, though, that’s justice. That’s different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don’t.

Goeth: You think that’s power.

Schindler: That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something, he’s brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he’s going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power. (Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.

Later in the film, Goeth almost decides to not punish a young boy for not cleaning his bath tub well enough. Instead of beating him, he looks at the boy (remembering Schindler’s words), and says, “I pardon you.” The boy then runs outside as Goeth begings to stare into the mirror, pointing to himself like a Michelangelo painting, and repeating the words, “I pardon you.”

It was only a moment later that Goeth notices a stain on the bath tub. His anger boiled as he picked up his rifle and shot the boy who was now walking to his barracks.

Mercy is Medicine

Just the other day, even though I was broke, I gave the last $20 I had to a man and his wife who had nothing. I am not writing this in order to get a pat on the back, but in order to make a point. The point is that I had no problem sleeping that night. My kindness was a small sacrifice.

However, to show mercy to someone who has wronged you, to someone who has hurt you, can be a tremendous sacrifice. Showing mercy means you give up something, like justice, payback, and revenge. But, there is no greater salve to the soul than showing mercy to the one who least deserves it.

The cruel person feels justified for his actions. But cruelty, no matter how it is rationalized, whether it be towards man or beast, is an acid that eats away at the soul.

Are you suffering from the effects of bitterness? Are you troubled by your anger? There is a cure. It’s called mercy.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

I pray that those who are protesting and rioting would keep this in mind.

– from Proverbial Thought

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons

Ferguson Justice

It seems to me that the only “justice” the rioters, the looters, the lawless, the race-baiters, and the opportunistic politicians in Ferguson, Missouri will accept is the public execution of a white man.

Evidently, the public execution of a Jew wasn’t good enough.

 

"Father, Forgive" by Gustave Doré

“Father, Forgive” by Gustave Doré

 

Would somebody please remind the “Reverends”?

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, places, politics

He Forgave. So Can We.

1N3

Not long ago I had the chance to go to an outdoor music festival in Chattanooga. It was there at JFest that I met an incredible couple, Tiki and Tom Finlayson, with a powerful story to tell.

You see…

van writingOn July 31, 2011, a young man was hit head on by a drunk driver. On July 1 Kevin “Sunshine” Yates died from the injuries he received in the crash. The tragic loss of a son could have driven his parents crazy, but instead of living with hate and bitterness, they decided to do something radical – the decided to forgive.

I would encourage you to go check out the website for 1N3, the ministry that Kevin’s mother and brother (Derek Yates) founded to increase awareness of the tragedy of drunk driving. There you can read the whole story of what happened, about Kevin, and about the lives that have been saved through organ donation. But for now, I would just like to share with you what Tom, Kevin’s dad, told me as we stood looking at the van Kevin was driving.

“Who Am I…?”

I know people who have a hard time forgiving others for wrongs done. Others I know have a hard time getting past the death of a loved one; always grieving, always mourning the loss. The Yates and Finlaysons are not that way. All it takes is one look at the smiles on their faces to see that hope and love have drowned hate and bitterness.

Tiki and Me

Tiki Finlayson and me. They carry the van around to show what happens when people drive intoxicated. The picture is of Kevin Yates, her son.

As we stood there talking, Tom Finlayson told me how that they had truly forgiven the lady that had hit Kevin. As a matter of fact, they have reached out to help her. Believe it or not, she is even scheduled to help in their ministry upon her release from prison.

Tom talking

Tom Finlayson telling the story.

Tom told me, “You know, we’re all murderers…we are all responsible for the death of God’s Son, Jesus…we killed Him…and if God can forgive me for killing his Son, then who am I not to forgive her?”

What more is there to say? 

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32

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Filed under Alcohol, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Relationships and Family

Time to Tour the Camp

WARNING:

The following post contains GRAPHIC language and material and is NOT suitable for all ages.

Buchenwald

In April of 1945 the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald was liberated. Just outside the camp were German civilians who refused to believe the atrocities they were told of actually happened. Therefore, something had to be done.

On April 15 allied soldier brought the residents of the surrounding community inside the camp for a tour. It took actually seeing the corpses of dead Jews, stacked like wood, for them to believe what they had heard. The average response was, “We didn’t know.”

Buchenwald01As we look back on those horrendous days, we find it hard to believe that the citizens of Buchenwald could actually go about their daily lives and never know anything about what went on inside those death camps. Yet, 40 years ago today, a virtual death camp was erected into law, the results being the slaughter over 50 million human lives, and people still deny the horror.

I believe it is time to tour the camp.

The Womb

On Sunday the 20th I stood and proclaimed without compromise that I think abortion on demand is immoral and nothing short brutal murder. I publicly took that stand because of my belief that human life begins at conception, and that human life, especially the innocent in the womb, is precious.

Now, on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I want to state my conviction here. I know some of you will disagree, maybe even in anger. I know some of you will stop reading this blog. But I cannot remain silent about such a controversial subject all for the purpose of maintaining subscribers. People have to know how horrible the act of abortion really is.

I believe that, as with the citizens of Buchenwald, if more people were exposed to what actually goes on with the most common type of abortion, minds and hearts would change. The truth is so disturbing and sickening that I refrained from reading in my church what I am about to reveal to you, now.

The following lengthy quote describes how to perform a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) abortion (82.3% of all abortions in 2009). Keep in mind less that 2% of abortions are done in the cases of rape, or for the need to save the life of the mother. The rest of the 1.5 million abortions performed in America are done other reasons – some of which are said to be in the baby’s best interest.

The surgical portion of a D&E abortion begins with the insertion of the speculum. “Late in the second trimester,” the NAF notes, “a weighted speculum accommodates larger fetal parts and allows more angulation of the forceps.”60 Throughout the procedure, “strong and steady traction” on the cervix must be maintained with a tenaculum.61 This allows forceps to be inserted through the dilated cervix for the dismemberment and removal of the human fetus. Ring forceps require a minimal cervical dilation of 10-12 mm, but are not sufficient for gestations beyond 17 to 18 weeks, when longer and weightier forceps must be used. The NAF reports that “Bierer forceps are the weightiest and largest-jawed [with] fenestrated and sharply serrated jaws (to) provide the most traction.”62 The NAF recommends that ultrasound guidance be used “in cases that require a considerable degree of force to remove fetal parts.”63 This helps ensure that the abortionist does not accidentally grasp and tear the myometrium (uterine wall) while grasping and tearing apart the fetus.

The National Abortion Federation instructions for a D&E abortion are as follows:

Once the forceps has passed through the internal os, open the jaws as widely as possible to encircle the fetal tissue and avoid pushing fetal parts deeper into the fundus… After 16 weeks’ gestation, fetal skeletal development is such that the surgeon can manually sense the presence of fetal parts within the closed jaws… After grasping a fetal part, withdraw the forceps while gently rotating it. This maneuver brings the fetus into the lower uterine segment before the grasped fetal part is separated (if necessary) and removed from the cervix… If a fetal extremity is brought through the cervix without separation, advance the forceps beyond the extremity to grasp part of the fetal trunk. Bringing the fetal trunk into the lower segment markedly reduces the number of instrument passes into the fundus… During the procedure, try to identify and keep track of fetal parts as they are removed. A “pouch’ or surgical pan at the edge of the gable to catch fetal parts can assist this process.64

Warren Hern, who the NAF credits as being an “American innovator”65 in D&E technique, offers the following instruction:

It is better to use smaller forceps and take smaller amounts of tissue each time than to deliver fetal parts intact while traumatizing the cervix… At 16 to 17 weeks, fetal tissue is much more easily identifiable with the forceps and in some ways is easier to grasp and remove than in earlier gestations. The [skull] is about the size of a Ping-Pong ball and usually can be grasped readily with the Bierer. Collapsing it gives a definite sensation… At 18-19 menstrual weeks… fetal parts are significantly larger and more difficult to morcellate (tear into pieces)… [Abortion after the] 20-week gestation… can be a significantly more difficult procedure accompanied by unnerving hemorrhage. Forceps use must be sure and relatively rapid. There is frequently not much time for exploring the nuances of different tissue sensations. Grasping and collapsing the [skull is] often difficult. Stripping the [skull] of soft tissue is sometimes the first step in successful delivery of this part, followed by dislocation of parietal bones. In this case, care must be taken in removal because ossification is occurring and the edges are sharp… Regardless of the amount of dilatation, delivery of the [skull] and pelvis is sometimes difficult… The advantage obtained by having a softened cervix could become a disaster if a laceration develops at the level of the internal os as the result of too much force… The procedure changes significantly at 21 weeks because the fetal tissues become much more cohesive and difficult to dismember. This problem is accentuated by the fact that the fetal pelvis may be as much as 5 cm in width… [The skull] can be collapsed. Other structures, such as the pelvis, present more difficulty… A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus, since it may be impossible to apply forceps or to do so while avoiding the thinned-out cervix.”66

After the abortion takes place, fetal parts must be examined “to verify complete evacuation.”67 A foot of the aborted fetus is often measured to “estimate gestational age after abortion.”68 Postoperative observation lasts for an hour or more so that the patient can be observed for “bleeding or pain that may signal uterineatony, retained tissue, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, or uterine perforation.”69

Source:  http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

For too long the media has avoided the reality of what goes on when a baby is aborted. If more people would read the above description they would refuse to allow this to go on. The argument, “Well, it’s just a lump of tissue,” would become absurd.

Please, before anyone starts screaming about the mother’s choice, do you think she would choose abortion if she could actually understand what goes on? If it is so horrible of a procedure, then why not tell her, unless of course we want her to stay in the dark, like the citizens of Buchenwald? Do we not care for the “health” of the mother?

Scars

It has taken many years for Germany to recover from what she did to the Jews and many others in those concentration camps. I can’t imagine the nightmares that came after witnessing the results of Hitler’s “final solution.”

But for women who have an abortion, there are also scars. I know this has been a long post, and one I am sure will result in the deletion of some hateful and vulgar comments, but I would like to leave you with one more quote…

Dr. Julius Fogel, an obstetrician-gynecologist and psychiatrist who performed more than 20,000 abortions during his career, perhaps explained best the psychological situation confronting many women after an abortion. He states, “There is no question about the emotional grief and mourning following an abortion. It shows up in various forms. I’ve had patients who had abortions a year or two ago … but it still bothers them.… There is no question in my mind that we are disturbing a life process.… Often the trauma may sink into the unconscious and never surface in the woman’s lifetime.… [But] a psychological price is paid. I can’t say exactly what. It may be alienation, it may be a pushing away from human warmth, perhaps a hardening of the maternal instinct. Something happens on the deeper levels of a woman’s consciousness when she destroys a pregnancy. I know that as a psychiatrist” (McCarthy, 1989).[1]

God, please have mercy on this nation. Many “do not know what they do.” Open their eyes. Help them to see. Change their hearts. Heal the wounded.


[1] Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, ed. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, 2nd ed., Baker reference library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 886.

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