Friday, February 28, 2014

Them There Christian Blogs Is Dangerous!

This afternoon, I read a variety of blogs, and listened to an episode of No Compromise Radio, only to find a common thread urging Christians to confront doctrinal error.


Whenever I confront error, people turn the tables by suggesting--if not flat-out declaring--that I'm either divisive or deceived. They probably think I'm both. Indeed, my passion for speaking out has recently gotten me (and, consequently, John) in serious trouble. In my flesh, I want to pull back, soften my position, apologize and "play nice." Those who believe I'm wrong could then pat me on the head, praise my submission, and everybody could happily celebrate putting me in my place a glorious reconciliation.

Reconciliation is wonderful, but not at the expense of truth. It's lovely to follow Jim  van Yperen's teaching that we're all wrong, and we need to "come to the foot of the cross" in mutual repentance, but sometimes such kum-bi-yah moments may be the last thing God wants. I think of the apostle Paul calling out the Judaizers in Galatia and the Gnostics in Colossae. Although I by no means consider myself an apostle, I think of his counsel to both the Corinthians and the Philippians to imitate him as he imitated Christ.

I can't say what I'll finally do when I'm eyeball-to-eyeball with the others. I pray to let the Bible, not van Yperen's theories, guide me. But man!--This is work!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Who I Am Discovered

Last October, my cousin sent me her Family Tree Maker file tracing my Mom's side of the family. This afternoon, I finally installed Family Tree Maker, and started viewing the rather copious file, finding dates that I've been curious to know. I hope to research Daddy's family, since I know next to nothing about him or his side of the family.

My interest in genealogy lies mostly in entertainment rather than in gaining some earth-shattering, life-changing revelation of "who I am." Yes, family history may explain some things, I suppose (though exactly what, I don't know).

Since the Holy Spirit has regenerated me by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, I find my identity as both a sinner saved by grace and as an adopted daughter of the Living God. I both serve Him as a willing slave and anticipate reigning with Him in heaven. As He teaches me through Scripture, He gives me His values, His perspective and (despite my fits of rebellion) His character. As much as I love my earthly family, the Lord has placed my primary identity in Him. What more about myself do I need to know?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Easter Already?

Yes, I realize that Easter is still several weeks away. But I've been introduced to a hymn, traditionally sung on Easter Sunday,  that I simply  can't wait to share with you!

And anyway, we should celebrate Christ's resurrection all year long!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Now In Heavenn Glorified

Hymns don't have to be old to be hymns. Here's an early Easter hymn by the Gettys that offers good theological content using up-to-date music. Enjoy the celebration!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Silence Wiser Than Words

So much fills my heart and mind today, as I reel from a weekend of tough emotions. The situation, even when it gets resolved, mustn't be discussed on this blog. I tried to mention it discreetly on Facebook yesterday...a move I deeply regret.

So, I sit here aching to write, but well aware that I have only yesterday's turbulence on my mind. I may be posting videos here for a few days while I pray through some of the issues, so I ask for your patience until I'm ready to write again. Please be assured, my marriage is fine, and my devotion to the Lord remains intact.

I'll type to you soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

At Least The Guacamole Didn't Spoil

Okay, yet again I lost my temper when someone insinuated that John and I had intellectual disabilities. She introduced herself, however, as someone who works with special needs children, leading me to expect that she wouldn't assume physical disability necessarily includes cognitive limitations.

We'd been at the mall all afternoon, and my migraine meds just barely worked. I hadn't slept as well as I'd wanted, but John's mom had been so eager to treat us to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory that I just didn't want to disappoint her. I resisted the temptation to have cheesecake (which I desperately wanted but would go against the low-fat diet that my doctor put me on in October), opting for Pinkberry frozen yogurt instead.

The RIDE came 30 minutes late to take us home. We went out to meet it, but the driver kept the doors closed as he fumbled with his radio trying to contact dispatch. We saw three passengers on the van, and knew he only expected to pick up one wheelchair...even though we'd booked the trip for two power chairs. Finally, he poked his head out the door and said, "You call dispatch and tell them to send another van." Then he got in his van and left.

After calling dispatch, John and I reentered the mall and found a spot by the elevator that both gave us a view of the curb and kept us warm. We knew we'd be waiting a while, but John  didn't dare the men's room and we didn't dare get dinner.

That's when she got off the elevator and began asking personal questions about our disabilities. She explained that she works with special needs kids, implying that her career choice entitled her to ask invasive questions. When she asked if we lived in a group home  (which, in Massachusetts, only offer housing to adults with cognitive disabilities), I gave into my anger.

I know better. Yes, I felt tired and had a slight headache. Yes, it was 4:30, and  I had expected to be home by then. Yes, I worried that the guacamole we'd bought at Target would spoil  before we could get it in our refrigerator, and  I worried about John's physical needs. And yes, God help me, I'm so sick of people judging my mental capacities by my speech defect, my inability to control my saliva and my increasing struggle to hold my head upright. But I'm sorry I lost my temper and, once again, dishonored my Lord.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Because My Freewill Last Night Brought Consequences

Staying up to watch the Olympic Womens Figure Skating last night taught me that my 60-year-old body can't handle late bedtimes. If you'll excuse me, then, I'll bow out of blogging and let Pastor Mike Abendroth of Bethlehem Bible Church (West Boyleston, MA) challenge your theology in this short, but thought-provoking, video:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A More Defined Void

As part of our Valentine's Day celebration this past weekend, John and I watched You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. I met John online, and (except for three short visits) we conducted our four-year courtship using email, Instant Messages, chat rooms and telephone calls. Obviously, You've Got Mail brings back cherished  memories.

But I don't want to write about our courtship today. Instead, I want to ruminate on something Meg Ryan's character "said" in one of her  emails. After asking one of her philosophical questions, she wrote, "I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this out to some great cosmic  void...So goodnight, dear Void."

I found myself thinking that she would have been a wonderful blogger.

Then I tried to recall the feelings I experienced the first time I clicked the "Publish" button on Blogger. Who would read that post? I emailed the link to friends in hopes that some of them might look at it, but didn't really expect to find a larger audience.

Well, my audience is growing, and I really am sending thoughts out to the unknown. I wouldn't say that my readers are a "cosmic void," mind you, but many of you are people I'll never meet this side of heaven. So I send out my posts, not knowing who will read them or how the Holy Spirit might use them.

I'd love it if He used them as an element in bringing someone to salvation! If He uses my posts, despite their awkwardness and lack of polish, to move one soul closer to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the hours I invest in maintaining this blog will be well worth my efforts. Or if He strengthens Christians through the Scriptures I share so that He helps them grow in  Him, I'll consider these posts to be successful.

Sending musings into the cosmic void of cyberspace might offer some degree of satisfaction. I don't begrudge such satisfaction to anyone who blogs for this reason; it's a big part of being a writer. Since I am a Christian first, and after that a writer, the mere act of writing isn't always enough for me. I want it to reach to heaven, resounding with praise for the Lord Who has no void.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Only Fools Think Such Thoughts

Saturday, a passage in Psalm 10 stimulated my thoughts regarding the relationship between practical atheism and moral conduct. Before I turn your attention to this intriguing passage, however, let me make a couple points about practical atheists and  their wide variety of views concerning morality.

Firstly, the term "practical atheism" expands well beyond people who consider themselves to be atheists or agnostics. Practical atheists may believe in some form of deity, and even intellectually affirm  orthodox Christian doctrine, only to manifest a deplorable disconnect between "faith" and lifestyle. In terms of Psalm 10, practical atheists live as if God has no direct bearing on their behavior, presuming that He will not judge them as sinners.

Secondly, even most professing atheists hold to some system of morality. A few, perhaps, are largely amoral, but they generally end up as mass murderers or serial rapists. Practical atheists, on the other hand, generally adhere to some type of moral code, though it's usually external. For instance, they may be physically faithful to their spouses, while seeing nothing wrong with flirting in online chat rooms. They adopt their own moral code, but draw the line at allowing God to impose His morality on them.

Having made these disclaimers, I now want to proceed to the passage:

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
    let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
    and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
    your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
    as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
    throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” ~~Psalm 10:2-6 (ESV)

Most of us read passages like this and say (with arrogant sniffs), "Well, that's not me!"  No? Perhaps we haven't hurt those who are economically inferior to us, but have we crushed an intellectual opponent for the  sheer joy of winning a debate? Have we  supported Planned Parenthood, and in so doing snuffed out millions of innocent lives on abortion tables? Have we affirmed homosexuality, robbing people of hope that they could enjoy heterosexual marriages or use their celibacy to  honor Christ?

Practical atheists concern themselves with their personal agendas, adjusting behavior to politically correctness (assuring acceptance from their peers). If they understand that they contradict the Lord's holy standards, they salve their consciences by convincing themselves of His non-existence, or at least His indifference. They may marginalize Him subconsciously--in fact, nine times out of ten, they have no idea that their actions essentially declare their atheism.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will keep my heart devoted to the Lord,  fearing to sin against Him just for the sake of my fleshy desires and impulses. Whether I like it or not, He sees my darkest thoughts, and holds me accountable.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

From Metaphor To Blasphemy

How did people come up with the idea of Jesus being a Boyfriend/Husband to individual women? The passages about Him as the Husband of Israel and Bridegroom of the Church (Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:1-14, Hosea 2:20, Ephesians 5:25-32 and Revelation 19:7-9) refer to the Lord's relationship to Israel and to the Church, and even then should be understood as metaphors describing His exclusive claims on His people. The contexts of these passages simply don't lend themselves to the mysticism held by unmarried women who seek comfort from Him.

The teaching distorts Scripture by insinuating a "deeper level" of experiencing God, thus becoming another form of the Gnostic heresy that troubled the First Century Church. The straightforward teaching that we know His love by His sacrifice on the Cross doesn't satisfy longings to be touched and held, so women search for "intimacy with Him."

Their search, of course, betrays the fact that they focus their attention on how Jesus can (or should)   gratify their desires rather than taking advantage of their availability to serve Him. And no, I haven't forgotten how long nights can be when nobody shares you bed. Singleness hurts! Yet Jesus calls us to deny ourselves in order to further His Kingdom, not to fashion Him into a cosmic Lover Who makes us feel happy and fulfilled.

Reducing Jesus to the position of personal Husband also suggests, when taken to its logical conclusion, that He is the ultimate Polygamist. Once we recognize this inescapable option, we must acknowledge the utter blasphemy of our proposition. Although I certainly understand why women desire Jesus as a Husband, He would never commit the sin of polygamy!

Christ refers to the Church as His Bride, but He doesn't have a harem made up of Christian women. In the very real discomfort of being unmarried, Christian women must resist twisting Scriptures concerning Christ and His Church (in which images of marriage are nothing more than metaphors) in favor of avoiding blasphemous fantasies. When we read His Word honestly, we serve Him according to His desires.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snowstorms And A River Glorious

Another monster snowstorm (yes, they come relentlessly this winter!) requires that my Personal Care Attendant puts me to bed four hours early so that she can get home safely before the accumulation starts. Since that early bedtime means less computer time today, I've decided to post a hymn today, and do a blogpost on Christ the Bridegroom tomorrow.

This week's hymn challenges me in my obedience to trust the Lord, while at the same time assuring me that He's trustworthy. And indeed, He keeps providing for me in all these snowstorms!

Friday, February 14, 2014

In Romance, Unselfishness

This morning, John and I exchanged romantic gifts, and we look forward to a romantic evening celebrating Valentine's Day. We look back to Valentine's Day 2012, when cancer had threatened to bring our marriage to an end, and therefore we treasure our marriage all the more. We can't conceal our joy at being husband and wife, nor should we! The Lord has given us a tremendous blessing that each of us, because we've had severe physical disabilities since childhood, thought He might withhold from us.

Many Christians, sadly, don't have the blessing of marriage.  In our joy, John and I remember their pain, praying that the Holy Spirit will comfort them in their loneliness and that He might bring them spouses. Having married late in life (less than two weeks before John turned 53 and a month before I turned 49), neither of us has forgotten how torturous Valentine's Day can be for singles.

God calls married people to love our unmarried brothers and sisters in Christ by sharing their sorrow, just as He calls them to share our joy (Romans 12:15). Our enjoyment of this holiday must avoid selfishly flaunting our marriages to the point that we show insensitivity to their loneliness.

For a time when I struggled with bitterness over being unmarried, I (loudly) refused to attend weddings because a man I'd wanted didn't return my feelings. I hardened my heart to the idea that, in coddling my feelings of rejection. I forced these couples to experience false guilt over the blessing God had given them. I repented of my selfishness when a close friend told me that, while she would understand if I chose not to attend her wedding, she very much wanted me there to rejoice with her.

Now that I'm married, I don't want to behave selfishly toward those who feel that extra twinge of grief tonight. While I'll certainly enjoy my evening with John, I'd like to pray for my dear friends who don't have anyone to call their Valentine. For singles, February 14 is a day to weep. As my heart rejoices in my husband, may it also break for those who spend tonight without someone special. May I love them enough to be sensitive to them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Romance With Jesus

During my long, miserable years of being involuntarily single, various people encouraged me to let Jesus be my Valentine, my Lover, my Bridegroom and my Husband. I can't cast aspersions on their motives for offering such advice. They saw my unhappiness over being unmarried, and watched helplessly as I fell in love (several different times) with  men who didn't hold romantic feelings toward me. Out of compassion for my anguished heart, these friends hoped I would find romantic satisfaction in the Lord.

On several occasions, I tried to "fall in love with Jesus" so that my yearning for an earthly marriage would dissolve. Once, my resolve to consider Him my Husband actually lasted from Valentine's Day until Easter Sunday, with a relatively high degree of easing my loneliness.

But that Easter Sunday evening, as our little drama group presented our play about Jesus' trials before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, I was disappointed that my heart didn't break at the off-stage sounds of Jesus being flogged. Never mind that I'd collaborated in writing and directing the play, and was watching its third performance before an audience. I felt as if, now that my relationship with Him had  "progressed" to a romantic level, His suffering shoold tear me to shreds.

That night, I knew that I couldn't maintain a mystical romance with the Lord. I wanted those kinds of emotions towards Him, and I reprimanded myself for not feeling "that way" about Him, but I simply couldn't accept Him as a Husband. Savior, yes. Lord, certainly. Bridegroom of the Church, absolutely! But I simply lacked the "spiritual depth" necessary to experience Him on a romantic level.

My apparent deficit in appreciating Him romantically led me to feel spiritually inferior. I wondered why I still longed for a husband who could physically touch me when I knew full well that only Jesus  could love me perfectly. Evidently, I had skewed priorities. I felt intense shame, yet I had to admit my inability to experience wifely feelings toward Him.

At another time, I hope to address the faulty theology involved in urging single women to regard Jesus as a romantic Partner. Today, I just want to leave you with the thought that unmarried women struggle enough on Valentine's Day as it is. Telling them to whip up romantic feelings for Christ may offer them short-term relief, but ultimately, such counsel positions them for disillusionment and self-recrimination. And letting that happen doesn't communicate God's love!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Gusty, Foolish Project

I worked most of  the day completing my first drawing in CorelDRAW: a logo for the greeting cards I make. Two important birthdays loom this month, so I really need to concentrate on making cards this next week. I've decided to try making them with CorelDRAW so I can start gaining experience with the program and its tools.

Using a new program for such a special project is either very gutsy or very foolish. Probably a little of both, actually. But I like this experience of figuring out how the various tools work, and seeing that, yes, I can create images with this software (a possibility I seriously doubted just three short weeks ago).

I'm only beginning to learn how CorelDRAW works, so my drawing didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, but it satisfies me  for now.

Last name whited out for my privacy

Monday, February 10, 2014

I'd Prefer Not To Blog Today

To be shockingly honest, I haven't felt like blogging for about two weeks. Writer's block only plays a small role in my unwillingness to maintain this blog. Selfishness plays a much bigger role. I'd rather spend my time amusing myself with computer games and chat than spend it forming posts and keeping mindful of correct grammar and cadence of sentences. I want free time just to enjoy myself, without seeing myself as God's servant or accepting responsibility to use my time to honor Him. In short, I want to pursue my own pleasures!

Can you imagine a more rancid attitude?

Apparently, I've forgotten that, because Christ purchased me with His own blood, I no longer own myself. He has given me this blog, as well as a certain gift for writing, as my primary means of serving Him, and I must recognize His grace in trusting me to blog for Him. And because I blog for Him, I must do so faithfully, even when my flesh would rather fritter away time on less profitable endeavors.

So I will blog, even when I'd rather not do so, because I desire to serve the Lord. I don't know how He uses the words I type. In fact, the impact of these posts really isn't my concern. The Lord merely calls me to faithfully carry out this simple responsibility that He has given me, asking me to regard it as a ministry to be done as consistently as possible. He will use the posts as He sees fit, touching hearts and minds according to His purposes. Whatever my selfish flesh prefers, my redeemed spirit rejoices that the Lord has given me blogging as a vehicle for His Kingdom.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer

Sometimes I wonder how people who don't read the Bible with an expectation that the Holy Spirit will guide them as they apply its principles manage to navigate through life. The hymn I've chosen to showcase today reminds me just how much I need the Lord to show me His path.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Convenient Diversion

Today got away from me! My personal agenda had taken our Bible Study meeting into account, but I hadn't foreseen downloading AVG anti-virus software. I loved the free version so much that upgrading to the premium version was a no-brainer!

That procedure obliterated my blogging time, but in the long-run I believe that lowering my risk of a computer virus will ensure more blog posts in the coming year. Anyway, I haven't really been getting ideas for posts lately, so downloading AVG provided a nice means of avoiding the awkwardness of logging into my blog only to wrestle with writer's block. Maybe doing the right thing for the long-run actually benefited me in the short-run too!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Counteracting Worldly "Wisdom"

The first two verses of Psalm 1 captured my attention this morning, as I noticed their relationship in a way I never had.

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night. ~~Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)

I'd never considered that flooding my mind with Scripture serves as the antidote to all the ungodly philosophies floating around American culture. But we most assuredly need an antidote.  On a daily basis, the world challenges basic Christian teachings such as the deity of Christ, salvation coming only through His shed blood, the depravity of man and the authority of the Bible. It daringly questions the values that the Bible teaches, or it manipulates Bible verses to accommodate its desires. Some of these challenges are blatant, but  most sneak into our minds subtly, barely recognizable as wicked counsel.

Clearly, Christians face the "counsel of the wicked" merely by sharing the planet with unbelievers.  Christians can't avoid contact with non-Christians. In fact, we need to be among them in order to share the Gospel with them. I often ask non-Christians to read my blog, praying that the Holy Spirit might use some of the Scriptures I share to open their hearts. I tell my PCAs about Jesus, and intercede for them daily. Verse 1 doesn't advocate complete isolation from non-Christians.

Instead, these two verses teach that we must reject the thinking of those who refuse to comply with the Lord's values. Political correctness must never rule our minds. In our inevitable (and necessary) interactions with the world, the Lord calls us to avoid submission to its "wisdom." He gives us His Word, expecting us to spend time studying it, considering its implications regarding how He commands us to live, so that we might make practical applications of it. In short, our devotion to Scripture counteracts worldly thinking.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Upheaval Of Values

When a teenaged Christian recently posted a Facebook comment condoning same sex marriage, the comment took me aback. Granted, the teen is not from a Christian family and attends public school, so she's heavily influenced by an increasingly liberal culture. And that culture shames those of us who uphold Biblical morality.

On one hand, I really don't expect the world to repent and return to the Christian values of America's Founding Fathers. Although my low expectations for a restoration of Biblical ideology may sound so cynical that some people might accuse me of lacking faith, I've drawn my conclusion from Scripture itself:
10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. ~~Matthew 24:10-12 (ESV)
But, liberals will object, same sex marriage celebrates love! But in verse 12, the Greek word rendered "love" is apage, not  eros. To clearly understand agape, I refer to 1 Corinthians 4-7:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)

God's love, according to this passage, doesn't angrily demand rights, as gay activists do, nor does it celebrate anything that contradicts Scripture's teaching. Homosexual love may equal heterosexual love in terms of romance, but it cannot honor the very Lord who declares homosexuality to be sinful. Until very recently, even non-Christians held to a vague acknowledgment that homosexuality clashed against basic Christian values.

Society now openly rebels against the Lord. I get that fact. And sadly, even those who profess to follow Christ will be deceived into  calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). I only pray that true Christians will uphold God's truth with courage.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why Pulling Out Plums Doesn't Commend Us

Mom read nursery rhymes to me and my sister well into our school age years, cultivating our appreciation for poetry in general. Many of those old rhymes, laced with vague images of a fanciful "merry old England," have remained in my memory as cherished comforters. Now and then, one will come to mind, transporting me back to that tweed sofa where I'd snuggle against my mother as she read:

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
Eating his Christmas pie.
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"

In thinking about Little Jack Horner today, I decided to Google it.  All the articles I found agreed on the poem's origin, which summarized succinctly:

Little Jack Horner was in fact reputed to be the Steward to the Bishop of Glastonbury. He was sent to King Henry VIII with a Christmas gift of twelve title deeds to manorial estates. Whilst on his way to the King Jack stole the deed to the manor of Mells (this being the real 'plum' of the twelve manors) which was in France. The remaining eleven manors were given to the crown but the manor of Mells became the property of the Horner family! The first publication date for the lyrics to this nursery rhyme is 1725.

Without ignoring the well-documented history behind the nursery rhyme, I'd like to make a spiritual application. As a race (and as individuals) we humans feast in corners, away from the Lord's table. When we find something good, we suppose it to be a result of our own cleverness. We ignore our dependence on Him as our only source of goodness under the presumption that we can produce wonderful things by our own efforts.

What's worse, we professing Christians especially like to credit ourselves for "accepting Jesus" and "coming to Christ," as if we played the determining role in our salvation. Occasionally, we might  make a comment about owing it all to Him, but in reality we pat ourselves on the backs for having the sense to turn to Him.

Little Jack Horner obtained his plum (the deed to the manor of Mells) dishonestly, demonstrating that, indeed, he was anything but good! By contrast, Jesus gives us His righteousness, knowing that we have no means of commending ourselves to Him. May we, in loving response, praise Him rather than boasting of ourselves.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

None Can Fathom

Usually, I devote my Sunday blog posts  to promoting hymns, convinced that, as a rule. most hymns do a better job at expressing theological truths than modern praise songs do. But in church this morning, one of the songs we sang reminded me that rules can have exceptions.

Chris Tomlin's song, Indescribable, echoes the Lord's rebuke to Job and his "comforters" in Job 38-41. Having just read those chapters Thursday and Friday of this past week, I appreciate how the song reinforces our need to bow to the Lord in humility when He confronts us with His power in creating the universe.

Even more amazing, this all-powerful Creator sees my murky, depraved heart in all its wretchedness and, for reasons even more unfathomable than His majesty, He loves me anyway!


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