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Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Dance of the low-sloping foreheads and Redefining Marriage

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on June 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

Many New Yorkers feel their city is more than just the (self-proclaimed) capital of the world. They think it actually is most of the world, the rest of the planet merely being the unavoidable orchard in which their Big Apple grows

New York Times columnist David Carr responds to Bill Maher implying Alabama and Kansas are not the “smart states.”

David Carr: “If it’s Kansas, Missouri, no big deal. You know, that’s the dance of the low-sloping foreheads. The middle places, right? [pause] Did I just say that aloud?”

CNN’s Jack Cafferty has advice for the GOP: Park your morality at the door.

On June 14, Mr. Cafferty expressed surprise that, in the previous night’s presidential debate, “social issues—like abortion, gay marriage, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’—still manage to work their way into the conversation. And that may prove to be a problem for Republicans. . . . These are not the issues that middle America is worried about. They would like to be able to find a job.”
What Cafferty doesn’t understand is that every issue is a moral issue. The current bad economy didn’t just happen. It was the direct result of immoral choices made by our leaders.
The national debt, national security, taxation, the welfare state, border security—there’s not a single issue that doesn’t have a moral component. The government has a moral obligation to live within its means, to protect its citizens, to encourage industriousness and discourage indolence, and to secure our borders against terrorists and drug cartels.
When voters consider a candidate for public office, they should not just ask, “Can this person manage the economy?” They need to know, “Does this person have the values and character to hold public office?”
A candidate who doesn’t value innocent life shouldn’t be president. In 2002, Barack Obama voted to oppose the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act, outlawing infanticide of babies who survive late-term abortions. Mr. Obama didn’t merely vote in favor of abortion, but in favor of killing babies outside the womb. A man whose moral compass is this defective cannot make moral decisions.
He promised an end to earmarks, a secure border, no lobbyists in his administration, no recess appointments, airing the healthcare debate on C-SPAN, elimination of failed programs—and he didn’t keep even one of those promises. Candidate Obama opposed “same-sex marriage,” but as president he nullified the Defense of Marriage Act. A record of broken promises does not equal moral leadership.
GAY MARRIAGE is no longer a theoretical issue. Canada has it. Massachusetts is expected to get it any day. The Goodridge decision there could set off a legal, political, and cultural battle in the courts of 50 states and in the U.S. Congress. Every politician, every judge, every citizen has to decide:
Does same-sex marriage matter?
If so, how and why?
The timing could not be worse. Marriage is in crisis, as everyone knows: High rates of divorce and illegitimacy have eroded marriage norms and created millions of fatherless children, whole neighborhoods where lifelong marriage is no longer customary, driving up poverty, crime, teen pregnancy, welfare dependency, drug abuse, and mental and physical health problems. And yet, amid the broader negative trends, recent signs point to a modest but significant recovery.
Divorce rates appear to have declined a little from historic highs; illegitimacy rates, after doubling every decade from 1960 to 1990, appear to have leveled off, albeit at a high level (33 percent of American births are to unmarried women); teen pregnancy and sexual activity are down; the proportion of homemaking mothers is up; marital fertility appears to be on the rise. Research suggests that married adults are more committed to marital permanence than they were twenty years ago. A new generation of children of divorce appears on the brink of making a commitment to lifelong marriage. In 1977, 55 percent of American teenagers thought a divorce should be harder to get; in 2001, 75 percent did.
Cafferty says that middle America doesn’t care about “same-sex marriage.” But polls shows Americans overwhelmingly oppose it—not because they hate or feel morally superior to homosexual people. They simply want to preserve God’s plan for marriage. Marriage should remain what it has been throughout recorded history—a covenantal union between a man and a woman. Here are three reasons why Americans object to redefining marriage:
1. The best environment for children is a traditional family—one mom, one dad. Children from stable two-parent homes are significantly less prone to depression, addiction, and suicide than children from non-traditional families. A moral society should encourage the family structure that best nurtures children.
2. Marriage ideally brings together two people, one male, one female, who complement each other. Mothers are generally protective and nurturing while fathers tend to challenge children to confront risks and embrace opportunities. Children need both influences. Two “mothers” can’t teach boys to become men; two “fathers” can’t teach girls to become women.
3. Children need to feel connected to their biological origins whenever possible. Yale psychiatrist Kyle Pruett found that children “hunger for an abiding paternal presence.” They struggle with questions about their biological origins and identity.
Same-sex marriage, too, interferes with the core elements of wedlock in order to advance an unrelated goal — the dignity and equality of gays and lesbians. The fact that many decent people ardently embrace that goal doesn’t change reality: The essential, public purpose of marriage is to unite male and female — to bind men and women to each other and to the children that their sexual behavior may produce. It is rooted in the conviction that every child needs a mother and a father. Gay marriage, whether enacted by lawmakers or imposed by judges, disconnects marriage from its most basic idea. Ultimately, that isn’t tenable either.
Marriage — male-female marriage — is indispensable to human welfare. That is why it has existed in virtually every known human society. And why it cannot, and will not, be permanently redefined.
The scholarly consensus on the importance of marriage has broadened and deepened; it is now the conventional wisdom among child welfare organizations. As a Child Trends research brief summed up: “Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes. . . . There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.”
The state has no basic benefit in marriage outside the traditional definition of the nuclear family. It is the most affordable, least costly way to have an ordered, society capable of earning revenue that it can tax. A properly functioning nuclear family reduces violence, provides protection, nurturing and feeding of its young without any monetary expenditure from the state. Beyond this it requires more than 2 to reproduce (not economically feasible) and as experience is teaching us more expense to the state to provide those necessities of protection, housing and food. Outside of its own self-interest why would the state regard marriage of any type? Marriage is typically promoted and supported in the religious community and for the life of me I can’t understand why a pluralistic society bent on self-aggrandizements and gentile fulfillment cares one way or the other!
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. — That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
This declaration acknowledges that God grants individual people their human rights. People then loan power to our government. The government holds only as much power as we, the people, are willing to yield.
These “self-evident” truths seem simple, but are powerful. First, all men are created equal. We all have equal value at birth. It does not say that, regardless of whether people work, they shall end up equal. We are created equal and given equal rights by our Creator: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not a guarantee of happiness. Happiness is up to every individual, not guaranteed by the government. We are a nation of believers in God. This provides us with optimism, a belief in the future, and solace and strength in times of crisis.

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The SBC and it’s leadership

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Sin on June 22, 2011 at 7:30 am

Dever, Patterson share wide-ranging dialogue
By Gregory Tomlin
Jun 21, 2011

PHOENIX (BP)–Calling themselves “men of yesterday” in the Southern Baptist Convention, 9Marks founder Mark Dever and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson told younger pastors June 13 they should heed the wisdom of previous generations that upheld biblical authority and sound doctrine.

Speaking at a “9Marks at 9” gathering following the Monday evening session of the SBC Pastors’ Conference, Dever said: “I didn’t invent these things. These are the things our grandparents said. They are good things to keep saying.” The 9Marks group examines and promotes regenerate church membership, scriptural authority and elder-led church polity.

Patterson, who disagrees with Dever on the issue of church elders and Reformed theology (also known as “Calvinism”), said he had been on the earth long enough to “learn something about the ebb and flow of the Christian faith.”

“Every generation will be faced with a very significant decision and you are going to experience great sorrow because of it,” Patterson said. He told of how he learned this lesson from the Downgrade Controversy in England and Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s role in leading the Baptist churches of England to a firm, scriptural footing.

That controversy in 1887 centered on the authority and reliability of the Bible, which at the time was under attack from German theologians who applied an evolutionary framework to biblical studies.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” Patterson said, recalling the Conservative Resurgence among Southern Baptists during which the convention reclaimed its own heritage of biblical conservatism in the 1980s and ’90s.

DECLINE BEFORE RESURGENCE

Dever asked Patterson about the difference between legitimate vigilance and paranoia that sees theological enemies at every hand.

“Paranoia is a condition that exists when you are thinking about you and your pastorate,” Patterson said. Vigilance, he said, is when people think constantly about protecting the Kingdom and ensuring that the Christian faith is passed from generation to generation.

“A denomination is nothing more than a reflection of what is going on in the churches,” Patterson said, noting that churches must hold and teach sound doctrine.

Dever asked Patterson to diagnose how the Southern Baptist Convention had declined theologically prior to the Conservative Resurgence, indicating he believed a lack of expositional preaching caused the decline. Patterson agreed.

“There was not a lot of expositional preaching in the 1950s. In fact, W.A. Criswell experienced a fair amount of ridicule for his expositional preaching,” Patterson said. “Even though people found the Lord under topical preaching, churches became weaker and weaker in terms of knowing the content of Scripture and what the Christian faith was about.”

Patterson said this decline in doctrinal knowledge lead to “anemia” in the churches, which in turn led to a lack of discipline. Churches once published the number of instances of church discipline, he said, but after some churches abused the process of discipline, the practice fell out of favor.

“There is something to the separated, sanctified life for Christ,” Patterson said, adding that churches still need to invoke discipline when necessary. Patterson said he believes the best form of discipline is “withholding the table” from those disciplined — prohibiting them from partaking of the Lord’s Supper with the remainder of the congregation.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

Dever said he thought church discipline is a less likely course of action if church members are truly regenerate. He asked Patterson if Southern Baptists had experienced problems in the past because they had not ensured those they baptized were actually born-again believers.

That was true then, Patterson said, but there are problems in modern churches as well. He noted the early church “did not baptize carelessly,” though they sometimes did baptize quickly. “I think we have done this sometimes carelessly.”

Patterson also said many churches almost could have been considered guilty of infant baptism, baptizing children as young as age 4. Many of these children grow up and leave the church or cannot remember their conversions, he said, emphasizing that churches must be sure that those who are baptized are regenerate.

“A lackadaisical policy toward baptism is a problem,” Patterson said. Without regenerate members, churches likely will have difficulty governing themselves.

That assertion prompted Dever to ask Patterson about a June 9 blog post in which James MacDonald, pastor of a nondenominational church and a voice in the Acts 29 church planting network, said congregational church government is not biblical. McDonald, who promotes an elder-led model, claimed pastors are “crushed” as the result of democratic voting and went on to call congregational church government “satanic.”

Dever asked Patterson if congregational government is, indeed, “satanic.” Patterson replied that this critique grows “out of a doctrine that has been abused in recent years — the priesthood of the believer.” Patterson said each believer is a priest, with the Holy Spirit indwelling the “temple” of his or her body. He noted the word used for “temple” by Paul was not a reference to the entire temple complex, but to the “Holy of Holies.” Believers must see themselves as part of the body, and not the whole or, worse, as individuals. And they must also submit themselves to the leadership of a shepherding pastor.

“Congregationalism of a sort, then,” based on a proper understanding of the priesthood of the believer, “is right theologically and it is the way God moves the people in a certain direction,” Patterson said. If the pastor is doing his job of listening to the Lord correctly, this movement should be in the direction the pastor desires based on his leading from the Lord,” Patterson added.

The pastor as a shepherd should be a “decisive leader,” Patterson said, noting that he is a servant but “rules” over his flock. “A shepherd doesn’t counsel with the sheep, asking, ‘Where would you guys like to graze today?'”

This, however, does not mean a pastor should be a chief executive officer (CEO), Patterson said. “The first responsibility a congregation has is to call a pastor,” he said. “Once they call the pastor, they need to follow the pastor.”

During his years as pastor, Patterson said he preferred not to have regular business meetings, which lead to “exercises in carnality” and “regular fights.”

GREAT COMMISSION RESURGENCE

Dever asked Patterson if the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) was part of, or a continuation of, the Conservative Resurgence. Patterson said he personally was not involved in the GCR and that he was not consulted on the plans or the report that was presented to and adopted by the SBC in 2010.

“They wanted to see the Great Commission put back in the lead position of what we do in Southern Baptist life,” Patterson said. Dever asked Patterson if he was pleased with the fruit of the GCR.

“I can’t say I’m not pleased with it, but I can’t say that I am. I haven’t seen enough of it yet,” Patterson said.

Asked by a pastor in the audience about the future of the SBC as a “red-state denomination with red-state sensibilities in a blue-state world,” Patterson acknowledged that Southern Baptists had to change. He said the convention must focus on urban areas, focus on universities and assume a New Testament mentality.

“We have to move Southern Baptists from being an agrarian, suburban denomination and move toward being an urban missionary force.”

COOPERATION

Dever noted that Southern Baptists have been cooperating and should continue to cooperate on social issues and missions, but he asked Patterson to describe the positives and negatives of cooperation.

Cooperation is valuable, Patterson said, as long as it focuses on the proper subjects.

Southern Baptists need to realize the SBC doesn’t constitute the entirety of the work of God on earth, Patterson said. Other Christians are sharing the Gospel and though they may disagree on minor points, those who believe the Bible believe in preaching Christ. This should be supported, Patterson said, just as the Anabaptists thanked God for Martin Luther but thought him “inconsistent” on a number of points. Christians can unite in evangelism, such as when Southern Baptists have participated in Billy Graham crusades, he said.

“However, when it comes to church planting, I’m going to plant Baptist churches,” Patterson said. Baptist churches are the closest to New Testament churches, he said, and Baptists have always been a “people of the Book,” “hot-hearted with compassion for people,” and a people of evangelism.

Patterson said Southern Baptists must be aware, however, that “a careless sort of ecumenism is slipping in.” Baptist doctrine cannot be softened to appease or changed for the sake of unity.

“Don’t I epitomize that?” Dever asked.

“No, you don’t,” Patterson said. “You have not taken Baptist out of the title of your church, you practice only believer’s baptism and you are a believer’s church.”

Understanding he is able to better educate seminary students by exposing them to various points of view, Patterson said he has invited people of different denominations to speak at Southwestern. “We have to recognize that God is doing some great things among people who are not Baptists,” he said.

CALVINISM

Many who came to the 9Marks meeting likely expected the discussion of the Reformed influence of the movement to be a topic for discussion. In reality, little time was devoted to it and none of the questions from the audience addressed Calvinism.

“You Calvinists scare me,” Patterson said, adding that he can always “put up with” people who hold different theological opinions as long as they are evangelistic. Dever said likewise he was frightened when people claimed to be Calvinists but refused to evangelize.

Dever asked Patterson if he believed in the total depravity of man, the first point of Reformed theology. “If I can define it, I do,” Patterson replied.

Dever followed with a similar question about unconditional election. Again, Patterson answered that he did believe the teaching “if I can define it.”

“If you mean by unconditional election that God arbitrarily decided in eternity past to create some people to save and some people to condemn, no,” Patterson said, drawing a loud “amen” from one pastor in attendance. “See, at least one brother here agrees with me.”

Dever told the audience that Patterson indirectly “helped start” the 9Marks movement. While Dever was at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he wanted to print a pamphlet at the seminary extolling the marks of true Baptist churches. Patterson, then president of the North Carolina seminary, at first refused because the pamphlet promoted the use of elders. Dever eventually convinced Patterson to write a letter commending the pamphlet but stating his disagreement with the use of elders.

Dever is senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and chairman of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees.
–30–
Gregory Tomlin is a writer based in Dallas.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press
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email: bpress@sbc.net

A Painful Facebook Conversation

In Apologetics on June 14, 2011 at 7:34 am

Facebook conversation-

Dan: Mxxxx as you recall Bxxx and I were friends in high school till the drugs took him over; I have always wondered what happened to him.
MXXXXX: I know, SXXXX said he died alone in a Mississippi motel from a drug overdose. SXXXX lost his second wife, CXXXX and BXXX lost his wife, VXXXX to overdose of drugs prior to this. Please pray for the MXXXX family as they continue to deal with the consequences of addiction… I spoke with Mr. MXXXX and could hear the pain in his voice…Birds of a feather….we flew together to brother.

Just remember when some teenager or young adult tells you they aren’t hurting anybody when they get high, (even weed) besides alcohol is just as bad (probably so). After all you did it when you were my age. OK let’s say you’re right I made it and didn’t get messed up by it. What about one of my friends who I got high with, played sports with, ran around with, probably one of my first true friends? He unfortunately went deeper and deeper into the life of getting higher and higher. The last time we were supposed to go hang out at a club in Overton Square (Memphis) he called and said instead of us riding together he would meet me there. When I arrived at Bo jangles, he was in hand cuffs bent over the hood of his car with 2 pounds of pot and some pills Cops everywhere! The next time we see each other (10 years later) he was on a methadone program with his wife who was pregnant (on the same program). Interestingly enough smoking weed (still) after his mother pleaded with me to go see him. Cocaine had rotted his teeth, needle marks in his arm his wife strapping up to inject her methadone in their living room, and I left with tears in my eyes headed home (in a much safer neighborhood), in my business suit, to my 3 children, working and making a decent living wondering how this happened?
First I was supposed to be a Christian setting an example reaching others for the kingdom. As you can tell I failed miserably, and the damage is evident. My friend made his own decisions but where was I in this, enabling or calling for something more Holy from us both. Running form God has consequences that last a lifetime and can cost a life. Looking back it seems to play out with illicit drugs; you end up in one of three places: Locked up-Covered up- Sobered up!
Second the dilemma for those who claim Christ in our young lives we take the criticism of naiveté to heart and flirt with sin or worse flirt with church. Thinking we can handle the beast of temptation we strike out on our own and each step taking us father away from the peace, security and joy of knowing the friendship of Jesus. The fortunate ones are those who thinking better of this behavior don’t venture out, a few make it back barely and then many live lives of pain, torment, addiction, and destruction.
Finally as a parent and now grand-parent start in prayer, stay in prayer and end in prayer! The challenge live a life that is worthy of being called a Christian, not just being thought one. Being a moral person is not being a Christian, the unexamined life is a life not worth living so says Socrates. So if a pagan philosopher can reach this conclusion the real author of truth says:
John 10:10-11 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Being called Christian implies repentance, confession and dying to ourselves and allowing Jesus to be ruler and master of lives on a daily basis. Jesus before you call me Lord counts the cost!

Luke 14:26-30 HCSB “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, and even his own life–he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

This described me does it describe you? Count the cost, consider the cross, live the life!

Check out AniWeather: Animated Weather + Any Weather

In Apologetics on June 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

Check out AniWeather: Animated Weather + Any Weather

What Changed about Him

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on June 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

(John 1:1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:14) The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

First the question should give a sense of seeing not so much what changed as what didn’t change. The biggest thought that screams from scripture is “His divine nature didn’t change”! God remained God he didn’t stop being God besides being unbiblical, this would make Him a lesser God changing from divine nature to human nature. The scripture clearly states that God remained God and the Word remained God when He became flesh. Either this statement is nonsense or God has two natures? Neither! The possibility of seeing God as one being with two what’s, materializes and the best word we can find to describe this moment are persons.
A closer look at the word “became” needs to be addressed. In the incarnation (birth) became cannot mean “transformed into” or “underwent a change in which he stopped being one thing and turned into another thing”. At the incarnation the Word became flesh he took human nature as his own, he added human existence to his already existing eternal self (person).
Now to the heart of the secret that the prophets and gospel hid in plain sight: when the Word became flesh the Son was still Son the second person of the Trinity. He did not change either. Fred Sanders describes this in his book “The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity changes everything, page 152: It was the eternal Son, whose personal characteristic is to belong to the Father and receive his identity from the Father, who took on human nature and dwelled among us. His life as a human being was a new event in history, but he lived out his human life in the exact same son-ship that makes him who he is from all eternity as the second person of the Trinity. So as Jesus lived out his life on earth he behaved like the Son of God, he never changed who He was only how he existed. The only new thing here is taking up the flesh, not being the Son of God. Only the Son of God could accomplish the will of God set forth from all eternity.
(Rev 13:8) and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

The story of His Glory the Gospel that God “sent His Son” to be His Son. When Jesus was in the flesh walking on this earth he behaved like the Son of God, the same way He has always been from eternity past. Quoting Austin Farrer (1904-1968) an Anglican theologian the gospels do not portray Jesus acting and behaving like God. Instead they portray him walking around and behaving like the Son of God. “We cannot understand Jesus as simply the God-who-was-man. We have left out an essential factor, the son-ship.” When we leave out that son-ship, we may think we are affirming the deity of Christ more clearly (“he is God” is a simpler statement to teach and defend than “he is the Son of God”), but in fact we are obscuring the Trinitarian revelation. The loss is too great; we will miss so much that is right there in Scripture. “What was expressed here below was not bare deity; it was divine son-ship,” said Farrer. The gospels clearly show Jesus was the Son: he lived, taught, acted, died, and rose again as the Son of God. The temptation to move past the son-ship to affirm His deity is ever present, but the scriptures clearly do the opposite acknowledging His deity in order to dwell on His Son-Ship! The early believers who saw, touched and ate with Jesus saw “the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” They know Him as the one who was “with the Father and was made manifest” 1 John 1:1-2. We must resist the temptation the rush past Jesus as the Son in order to express the fact He was God. “God” describes what Jesus is but the “Son” describes who He is!
If we understand the son ship of Jesus Christ it becomes foundational to the deity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. The risk we take in trying to make Jesus change or become something that he was not in heaven is making him the creature and not the creator. If we allow the idea that Jesus changed from something, or became something it actually reduces his deity instead of promoting it. In Scripture, we are taught The Father sent his son and unto us a child was given. We see by his behavior on earth Jesus always acknowledge he was about His Father’s business, he surrendered to doing the Fathers will, in his language and actions he confirms his son ship.
As Farrer said, is impossible to imagine how God would act if God were a creature. When we ask ourselves this particular question it forces us into a constant unresolved paradox. In looking at the miracles Jesus performed through the context of this question was he acting as the incarnate creator or a creature? Only in the context as the son of God the second person of the Trinity could these actions make sense. When reading the gospels the writers are very intent on expressing the son ship of Jesus Christ, he lived and died as the Son. At the heart of the Trinity is the son ship of Jesus.
If we are too quick to rush past Christ’s relationship to the Father, we miss what God has revealed about himself and we are settling for less than the full counsel of God. Quoting from Fred Sanders book “The deep things of God. How the Trinity changes everything:”
What is so wonderfully clear with regard to the Son-that he is himself here with us, just as he has eternally been himself in the happy land of the Trinity-it is also true of the Holy Spirit.

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