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Posts Tagged ‘Question and Answer’

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in … (NIV) Matthew 25:35

In 2007, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimated that 3.5 million people in America (1.35 million of them children), were likely to experience homelessness in a given year. While difficult to measure, the increase in the demand for shelter beds each year is a strong indicator that homelessness is on the rise, and not only in America. According to the United Nations, there are at least 100 million homeless in the world today.

While on a short-term mission trip to Brazil, the plight of the street children captured my heart. I soon returned to Brazil as a full-time missionary with my focus on the inner city gangs of children. For four years I lived and worked with a team from my local church in Rio de Janeiro, volunteering in established ministries. Although our mission was geared toward children, we learned a lot about helping the homeless, no matter the age.

If your heart has been gripped by the needs of the hungry, thirsty, strangers on the streets, here are four effective ways to help the homeless in your community.

1) Volunteer

The most productive way to get started helping the homeless is to join forces with a well-established operation. As a volunteer you will learn from those who are already making a difference, rather than repeating the mistakes of well-meaning but misguided novices. By receiving “on the job” training, our team in Brazil was able to experience the rewards of accomplishment right away.

A good place to start volunteering is at your local church. If your congregation doesn’t have a homeless ministry, find a reputable organization in your city and invite church members to join you and your family in serving.

The Association of Gospel Rescue Missions represents 300 rescue missions in U.S. and Canadian cities offering food and shelter, youth and family services, prison outreach and rehab programs for the mentally ill, elderly, urban poor and street youth. Check out their extensive resources and information directory.

Use this Homeless Shelter Directory to find the shelter nearest you.

This site offers a Homeless Search Engine for locating food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, housing, food stamps and employment services for the homeless and needy.

Consider partnering with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry that invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together with needy families.

2) Respect

One of the best ways to help a homeless person is to show them respect. As you look into their eyes, talk to them with genuine interest, and recognize their value as an individual, you will give them a sense of dignity that they rarely experience.

My most memorable times in Brazil were the all night stays on the streets with gangs of children. We did this once a month for a while, offering medical treatments, haircuts, friendship, encouragement and prayer. We didn’t have a rigid structure on those nights. We just went out and spent time with the children. We talked to them; we held their street-born babies; we brought them a hot supper. By doing this we gained their trust.

Remarkably, these kids became protective of us, warning us during the day if they detected any dangers on the streets. One day while walking through the city, a boy I had gotten to know stopped me and told me to quit wearing my particular kind of watch on the streets. He showed me how easily a thief could snatch it from my arm, and then he suggested a better, more secure type of watchband to wear.

While it’s wise to exercise caution and take measures to ensure your personal safety when ministering to the homeless, by identifying with the real person behind the face on the streets, your ministry will be much more effective and rewarding. Learn additional ways to help the homeless:

Association of Gospel Rescue Missions presents 8 Ways to Truly Help the Homeless.

JustGive.org lists 35 Ways You Can Help the Homeless.

3) Give

Giving is another great way to help, however, unless the Lord directs you, don’t give money directly to the homeless. Cash gifts are often used to buy drugs and alcohol. Instead, make your donations to a well-known, reputable organization in your community. Many shelters and soup kitchens also welcome contributions of food, clothing and other supplies.

Visit the Charity Navigator to find top rated charities.

4) Pray

Lastly, prayer is one of the easiest and most positive ways you can help the homeless.

Because of the harshness of their lives, many homeless people are crushed in spirit. But Psalm 34:17-18 says, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV) God can use your prayers to bring deliverance and healing to broken lives.

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What Does Believing In Jesus Really Mean? II

 

The Person of Christ

Christianity flowed through promises that God made to His covenant with Israel.  I think we gloss over that in 21st century from our Gentile perspective and maybe even consider it irrelevant today.   Going back to the day of Pentacost, I believe Peter sets the stage.  Speaking to a Jewish audience, Peter describes for them this Jesus in Acts 2:22-36. For a Jew this was significant because the Jewish hope for restoration and fulfillment of covenantal promises was found in the messiah.  The messiah would not be just another king nor one of God’s prophets.  The messiah would be God’s anointed king, succeeding from the line of David embodying the spirit of YHWH.  The Jews were basically looking for God Himself to come through divine representation.

 

But Peter had understood this prior to that day.   When Jesus asked him, who do you say that I am?  You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  He was saying, “you are the messiah, the one whom God has sent to fulfill these promises”.   Peter recognized Him as deity.  Also, consider Stephen’s rather lengthy recitation in Acts 7.  Christ was explained. John makes it a point in His gospel to get to this right away.  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.  God among us, emptying Himself to become a sacrifice, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

 

In Acts 10, Peter recognizes that the covenantal promises of God were not just meant for Israel but for all peoples who would believe in Jesus, which he makes clear in vs. 36 “the word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ.  Thus, by appropriating faith in who Jesus was, Gentiles could now be the recipients of covenantal promises.  So getting back to the Paul, Silas and the jailer, I have to imagine that this explanation was part of the redemption package explained to him, that he was once far off from these promises could not access them through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 11-13) and it starts with recognizing who He is.

 

I think its fascinating that so much doctrine developed through the work of councils due to heresies concerning the person of Christ.  The councils of Nicea, Constantinople and Chalcedon were critical answering the question of who is Christ.  He did not become God at birth nor was he never man, as some supposed, but fully God and fully man. Some thought other details were too nitpicky.  What does it matter regarding the substinence of Christ, whether He was 2 people in one, whether He was a whole new 3rd person or had one will instead of two?  This seems so trivial.  And doesn’t that resound today?  Why cause division with details or make much ado about too much.  But I think that Irenaeus, Athanasius, Flavin and Leo understood that we can’t put trust in someone who is not.  If we get Christ wrong regarding who He is, then the whole thing falls apart.

 

Would one need to immediately understand all of this to profess faith in Christ?  Absolutely not.  But if one professes Christ, and in turn is indwelt with the Holy Spirit who bears witness to Christ, would that person then refuse to acknowledge Christ on His terms?  How then can we profess faith in Christ and not believe in who He is?    So placing faith in Christ would necessitate understanding His person, that He is the Christ, Son of God who descended from heaven, born of a virgin,  becoming man, yet sinless to restore humanity to right relationship with God.

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The Reality of Hell!

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir

 

Have you ever wondered what we are being saved from?

 

Hell is not a pleasant, happy subject, but, nonetheless, it is extremely important for those whose call it is to help save the lost. (By the way, all Christians have this call!) We are saved, by Christ, from God’s wrath and an eternity in Hell! But, what is Hell? “Hell” is a name that evokes both fear and contempt. It evokes fear from those who consider it the most heinous place conceivable and where they do not want to go. It raises contempt from those who consider it a figment of someone’s distorted imagination, while others will argue that it was invented as a concept to keep people with a weak mindset in line. Some will trivialize it; others will joke about it; many will take it so lightly that they never consider its authenticity, or perhaps go so far as to seek to de-claw its power.

 

Some pastors will never preach on it either to soften the Gospel to make it more palatable, or they just do not fully believe it themselves, asking, how can a loving God send someone to Hell? Whatever your view of Hell may be, there is no theological concept that has wreaked such terror and fear at its core. There are no Biblical precepts that cause people to cower or to wake up from their sins and see the reality of our Lord’s coming more than this one. Yet, the same concept will build resentment in others, and harden their contemptuous hearts toward God. Or, it may be to some just an academic idea to postulate and then ridicule.

 

Perhaps, people think of these words:

 

Through me the way into the suffering city; through me the way to the eternal pain; through me the way that runs among the lost. Justice urged on my high artificer. My maker was divine authority, the highest wisdom, and the primal love. Before me nothing but eternal things were made, and I endure eternally. Abandon every hope, ye who enter here.

 

These words come from the writings of the philosopher, Dante, in his Inferno (1265-1321). Dante describes all of the wickedness and circles of torment and suffering, and is our source for the imagery of red devils and pitchforks in a fiery furnace.

 

Perhaps, Hell is just a swear word we say when we stub our toe or lose a job. Perhaps, it is just a statement we cite to describe a bad experience, such as, “this was hell for me,” or, “war is hell.” Hell has also been a descriptive term to explain the worst conceivable experience or situation a human may face here on earth, such as a war, a divorce, a loss, or just a bad day. But, is it real?

 

Is there really a Hell?

The question that comes up in academic and church circles is, is there a Hell? The bad news is, yes; there is a Hell and there will be a Judgment! But, with the bad news, there is good news, too. The good news is that those in Christ will be saved from it! What are we saved from? The answer, surprisingly, is not our evil and sin; rather it is God’s wrath. Our evil provokes God, but it is His righteousness, holiness, and justice that will demand our punishment (Isa. 2:11-12; 13:6-13; Ezek. 30:2-3; Joel 1:15; 2:1-2; 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18-21; Obadiah 15; Zeph. 1:7; 1:14-2:2). Make no mistake; Hell is real, and it is coming. It is not a figment of an oppressive regime’s imagination to keep people in line or a tactic to scare children at night. It is not just a swear word or a term used to trivialize or describe something bad. The Bible is clear; there is a Hell. It is a real place, a place you do not want to be. The question you need to ask yourself is, are you saved from it? If not, you have the biggest problem a person could ever face!

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What Does Believing In Jesus Really Mean? I

Acts 16:31, after Paul and Silas are miraculously released from prison, the jailer obviously impressed with fantastic occurrences that freed them asks the simple question “what must I do to be saved?”  To which they gave an equally simple answer, “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”.  Simple.  And isn’t that in line with modern day prescriptions?  No need to break down the 10 theological points or the 4 spiritual laws or taking them down the Romans road.  For it is a simple belief in Jesus that will unite you to God and that’s all that’s needed.  Or is it?

I think we live in a day where it is easy to confess Christianity, to say that I believe in Jesus.   When asked “are you a Christian”?  Response…yes, I believe in Jesus.  One may even go so far as to claim the sinner’s prayer as their rite of passage into Christianity.  I believe in Jesus because he died on the cross for my sins and I’ve asked Him into my heart.  Well, then it’s a done deal.

But I think a further examination of what believing in Jesus entails and also what transpires in the Acts account of the jailer.  For it is interesting that, despite the simple prescription that Paul provides, vs. 32 indicates that they spoke the word of the Lord to him.  My Expositor’s Bible commentary indicates that speaking the word of the Lord to him was to explain the good news of redemption in Christ for them in terms they can understand.  It sounds like there was more to believing in Jesus than just saying, yes I believe in Him.  The had to break it down for him and unpack  what believing in Jesus meant.

I think this is significant.  It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that in an effort to accommodate seekers of Christianity and not make salvation invitations too burdensome, that we’ve lost this very important explanation process.   They just need to know that Jesus died for their sins.  Why bore them with details.  What is even worse are the “altar calls” that I have heard that doesn’t even include this basic point.  Your life is not going right?  You know something is missing?  You want to get right with God?  Come to the altar.  Now I am not saying that every situation is going to warrant a long diatribe, but if an offer of salvation goes forth, isn’t it fair for people to know what we are asking them to believe?  Are even professing Christians aware of the basis of their belief?  Does the simple message of  Jesus dying for sins really get the point across, especially to an unchurched, badly-churched or other world-view person? Will it really get to what is being asked of people to put their trust in?

And trust is a key factor in belief.  Now I am a lowly 2nd semester greek student, but I find it interesting that the root  is the same for both the verb “believe” and the noun “faith” (if would learn to type in unicode I could actually put the greek word here).   The BDAG Greek-English lexicon provides these explanations for the verb, believe as the following:

  • to consider something to be true and worthy of one’s trust
  • to entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence

So believing in something means that there must also be trust.  I think many people are aware of the events concerning Christianity, especially those who have been grounded in church.  But giving something a intellectual assent is not the same as believing.  I can look at a chair and believe that it is a chair and that it is designed to hold me up when I sit down it.  But the use of the chair will not be activated if I don’t have faith in the chair that it will in fact do what it is designed to do.  It will not be valid for me unless I place my trust in it.  So belief in Jesus Christ must entail an element of trust.

But what are we trusting in?  Christianity has gone through 2,000 years of historical development through which many deviations from the central message has occurred.  What do you imagine they explained to this jailer of what believing in Jesus meant?  I believe the accounts in Acts clearly outline principles that incorporate this element of trust into what believing in Jesus really means.  And when reconciled with the whole counsel of Scripture  identifies key elements that incorporates a faith in Jesus Christ.

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Yes and no, if you are doing a simple word search, you won’t find it. You may actually have to do some individual thinking 🙂

H&D is always ready to help you out and is giving you an easy table to help you in the search. Below is a table showing who does what and where you can find it.

The Trinity

FATHER

SON

HOLY SPIRIT

Called God

Phil. 1:2

John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9

Acts 5:3-4

Creator

Isaiah 64:8

John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17

Job 33:4, 26:13

Resurrects

1 Thess. 1:10

John 2:19, 10:17

Rom. 8:11

Indwells

2 Cor. 6:16

Col. 1:27

John 14:17

Everywhere

1 Kings 8:27

Matt. 28:20

Psalm 139:7-10

All knowing

1 John 3:20

John 16:30; 21:17

1 Cor. 2:10-11

Sanctifies

1 Thess. 5:23

Heb. 2:11

1 Pet. 1:2

Life giver

Gen. 2:7: John 5:21

John 1:3; 5:21

2 Cor. 3:6,8

Fellowship

1 John 1:3

1 Cor. 1:9

2 Cor. 13:14; Phil. 2:1

Eternal

Psalm 90:2

Micah 5:1-2

Rom. 8:11; Heb. 9:14

A Will

Luke 22:42

Luke 22:42

1 Cor. 12:11

Speaks

Matt. 3:17; Luke 9:25

Luke 5:20; 7:48

Acts 8:29; 11:12; 13:2

Love

John 3:16

Eph. 5:25

Rom. 15:30

Searches
the heart

Jer. 17:10

Rev. 2:23

1 Cor. 2:10

We belong to

John 17:9

John 17:6

. . .

Savior

1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10

2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 1:4; 3:6

. . .

We serve

Matt. 4:10

Col. 3:24

. . .

Believe in

John 14:1

John 14:1

. . .

Gives joy

. . .

John 15:11

John 14:7

Judges

John 8:50

John 5:21,30

. . .

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Must unity precede revival?

John Piper answers along with J. Gresham Machen here. Machen writes:

Souls will hardly be saved unless the evangelists can say with Paul: “If we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than that which we preached unto you, let him be accursed!” Every true revival is born in controversy, and leads to more controversy.

That has been true ever since our Lord said that he came not to bring peace upon the earth by a sword. Do you know what I think will happen when God sends a new reformation upon the Church? We cannot tell when that blessed day will come. But when the blessed day does come, I think we can say at least one result that it will bring. We shall hear nothing on that day about the evils of controversy in the church. All that will be swept away as with a mighty flood. A man who is on fire with a message never talks in that wretched, feeble way, but proclaims the truth joyously and fearlessly, in the presence of every high thing that is lifted up against the gospel of Christ.” (J. Gresham Machen: Selected Shorter Writings, 148)

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Should Christians Give More During Lean Times?

Writing on the World magazine blog, Tony Woodlief makes an unconventional suggestion:

It’s a foolish idea, but I’m wondering if we can work up the courage to give recklessly this year. Wouldn’t it be something if our response to hard economic times was not to give less but to give more? What would the world think of us if all of us turned off the financial advice shows, imperiled ourselves just a little, and gave so much that every crook and lowlife and spendthrift in town darkened our churches’ doors?

Woodlief knows this idea seems foolish because of what our natural tendencies are when it comes to giving. He writes:

It’s frightening, even in good economic times, to give in the face of seemingly endless need. Many of us have been in a position to write a check or hand over a bundle of cash or food to someone who we have no confidence will be anything other than needy next week, too. And now that we’ve given to them, won’t they be more likely to come back for more? How much will they end up taking from us?

This is what I so often thought as I watched my dad try to minister to needy people. He got burned again and again trying to give people cash. He seemed to be a little more effective when he set up a food bank in our church and looked for ways to minister to underlying substance abuse problems where those played a role. But he still got burned–people still took advantage of our church. And his efforts turned our place of worship into something of an emergency room church compared to the country club church I grew up in. All those former addicts, ex-cons and people with missing teeth often made me uncomfortable, but I guess God isn’t always interested in our comfort.

I hope God can stir a more reckless approach to giving in me.

 

 

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Why do I not feel a love for Christ?

 (Answering John Owen)

“Compare a little what you aim at, or what you do, with what you have already heard of Jesus Christ: if anything you design be like to him, if anything you desire be equal to him, let him be rejected as one that has neither form nor comeliness in him; but if, indeed, all your ways be but vanity and vexation of spirit, in comparison of him, why do you spend your ‘money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfies not?’ [Isa. 55:2]

…consider, I pray, what are all your beloveds to this Beloved? What have you gotten by them? Let us see peace, quietness, assurance of everlasting blessedness that they have given you. Their paths are crooked paths – whoever goes in them shall not know peace. Behold here a fit object for your choicest affections – one in whom you may find rest to your souls – one in whom there is nothing that will grieve and trouble you to eternity…

Pray, study him a little; you love him not, because you know him not.

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Is it okay for a Christian to get a tattoo? The answer, I believe, is yes and no. Tattooing falls into the category of “disputable matters” where the Bible is not clear.

But wait a minute, you might be thinking. The Bible says in Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” (NLT) How much clearer can that be?

It’s important, however, to look at the verse in context. This passage in Leviticus, including the surrounding text, is specifically dealing with the pagan religious rituals of the people living around the Israelites. God’s desire is to set his people apart from other cultures. The focus here is prohibiting worldly, heathen worship and witchcraft. God forbids his holy people to engage in idolatrous, pagan worship and sorcery which imitates the heathens. He does this out of protection, because he knows this will lead them away from the one true God.

If you’d like to take a closer look at the issue to find out what the Bible says about tattoos, this article considers the concerns surrounding tattooing today and present a self quiz to help you decide if getting a tattoo is right or wrong. What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?

Read:

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Answered by Albert Mohler

Is the God of the Bible the supreme egotist?  That question arises when human beings contemplate the meaning of the truth that God does everything for the sake of his own glory.  Is God then a megalomaniac?

Human beings are trapped in a human frame of reference.  When we think of motivation, we inevitably start with our own self-conscious knowledge of our own motivations.  For a human to seek his or her own glory is narcissism in purest form.  Human egotism is constantly on display.  And, if we are honest, we know that we seek our own glory as a reflex.

In reality, this is the essence of sin.  Our desire for glory is inherently idolatrous and selfish.  Paul describes this perfectly in Romans 1:22-23:  “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”  This exchange that robs God of his glory is the very heart of sin.  We want the glory that is God’s alone.

When we think of God, our reflex is to think in human terms.  We are trapped in the knowledge that our efforts to glorify ourselves are perverse.  Yet, if we are to think rightly of God, we must think in infinitely different terms, and the only way we can do this is by the gift of revelation.  God must give us even the frame of reference with which we can think of him, and he does so in his Word.

The Bible tells us that God does all things for the sake of his own glory.  As God spoke to his people through the prophet Ezekiel:  “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes” [Ezekiel 36:22-23].

God’s saving acts are for the sake of his own glory, even as his people are redeemed.  He acts to vindicate his own name and to display his own power and holiness.  Creation itself displays his glory, extending to every atom and molecule. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” sings the Psalmist, and God created the world for the purpose of putting his glory on display [Psalm 19:1].

Ultimately, creation serves as the theater of the glory of God’s redeeming love.  The drama of God’s redemption accomplished in Christ is the great story on display.  In the consummation of history, the revelation of a new heaven and a new earth will become the platform for the manifestation of the glory of the triune God throughout eternity.

Does this make God a megalomaniac?

Our starting point for answering this question is the perfection of God.  As the only perfect being, all that God does is perfect.  He perfectly seeks to display his perfection.  He is even jealous of his own glory.  As John Calvin reminds us, “God is called jealous, because he permits no rivalry which may detract from his glory.” In a human this attitude would be ugly and contemptible.  In God it is perfect and holy.

As Herman Bavinck expressed this truth, “God can rest in nothing other than himself and cannot be satisfied with anything less than himself.  He has no alternative but to seek his own honor.”  Similarly, though from a very different theological perspective, Karl Barth defined God’s glory as “his dignity and right, not only to maintain, but to prove and declare, to denote and almost as it were to make himself conspicuous and everywhere apparent as the One he is.”

This is merely the logic of what it means for God to be the one perfect being.  As such, he cannot look beyond himself for anything or anyone greater.  In an often-overlooked passage in Hebrews, we are told that “when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself” [Hebrews 6:13].  When humans take an oath, we naturally invoke God’s name.  When God makes a promise, he can invoke no greater name then his own.  This is not evidence of selfishness or narcissism — only an irrefutable logic.

Even so, some who are troubled by this question may remain puzzled.  Even when God is understood to be the one perfect being, this still appears to be a cold logic.

The most important corrective to this misunderstanding is to realize that God’s glory is a generous and self-giving glory.  His glory is his own joy, and the display of his glory brings his creatures true joy.

When a human glorifies himself, he robs others of joy.  Self-aggrandizement and human megalomania cause hurt and harm to others, not blessing and joy.

But when God displays and exhibits his glory, he shares joy with his creatures and wholeness with all creation.  Put most directly, without the knowledge of God’s glory, we would be robbed of true joy.  God would be less than perfect — even selfish — if he did not display his glory and allow us to share in the divine joy and fulfillment.

Is God a megalomaniac . . . the transcendent Egotist?  Of course not.  In the truest sense, this is an arrogant and irresponsible question.  How can God be other than he is in his perfection?  But in another sense, the question is helpful, for it directs our thinking to the essence of God’s glory and resets our theological framework.  God shows his love for us in the display of his glory and in his jealous concern for his own name and reputation.  Our greatest joy is found in beholding his glory and in glorifying the triune God for all eternity.

Fallen creatures, blinded by sin, cannot see that to rob God of his glory is to rob ourselves of true joy.  It takes the grace of God to make that known to us, and, incredibly enough, God glorifies himself in making himself known to sinners and in saving them through Christ’s perfect atonement for sin.

For now, we see the glory of God most perfectly displayed in the cross of Christ.  That fact alone answers the question far more convincingly than any argument.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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