Facebook Friday

Facebook Friday: To Gripe or Not to Gripe?

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those that like to gripe and those that do not. I fall into both camps at times, but I am making a concentrated effort to look for the good and focus on that. Recently, Facebook actually considered changing its name to Gripebook, but Zuckerberg thought it was a terrible idea. I think it might do well, but I’m not a business genius like he is.

Have you ever paid attention to the amount of griping that goes on in your Facebook feed? Statistics say that 46% of all Facebook posts are a gripe about something (Okay, that statistic isn’t real. You know what they say. 63% of statistics are made up on the spot. Yea, I made that statistic up as well. Usually the stats I give are accurate. I promise). But seriously, I don’t know the real statistics, but people like to gripe. Don’t they?

When I was in college, for my final in Counseling Theories, our professor told us we had to take the final at his house. Our class shows up, and he says we are going to watch a film on counseling that will drastically change how we work with clients. After he served us a good meal, we all settled in to watch this “master therapist” at work. The film we watched was Pollyanna. You know, the Disney film with Hayley Mills from 1960. Aside from all of the “techniques” he pointed out from the movie, there was a quote that has stuck with me ever since.

During the film Pollyanna says, “When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.” Isn’t that true? If you want to find the negative in any person, situation, or organization you will find it every single time. You don’t really even have to try all that hard.

Now am I saying we should be the eternal optimist that lives in denial about problems or negative situations? Most certainly not. I am saying that I think we can do better things with our time than sit around and grumble about things. We can take action and change things, we can look for the good, and we can encourage those around us. Any of these options will serve us, and those around us, much better than ranting about how bad things are.

Think about it. Everything is amazing and we gripe about so much. Sure, we all have our struggles, but most of us are extremely blessed. Could we just be happy? Could we be thankful? Could we focus on the positive? Could we uplift others? Could we live like Christians are suppose to live and be filled with joy?

Next time we are going to post on Facebook, let’s let our finger linger on the enter key and ask ourselves, “Am I just complaining, or am I being positive?” Let’s stop adding to the noise of negativity. Let’s let others know how truly blessed we are. I mean, aren’t Christians suppose to be the ones with all the joy?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: Unfriended

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Facebook is a fun place to be…most of the time. There are those people that seem to always have the witty status updates that make you chuckle every time you read them. Then there are some folks who help you start the day with encouraging comments or inspirational words. But, there are also those people that only post things that seem to annoy you worse than ten thousand fingernails screeching across a very large chalkboard. Finally you reach a point where you unfriend them. I mean, they will never catch on. They have a couple of hundred Facebook friends. Your lack of presence will go unnoticed.So you just sort of disappear from the feed quietly. It is done. You no longer have to deal with them.

Have we not all done this? I am pretty sure I have had a few people remove me from their feed as well. You can remove someone’s “presence” from your internet life with the click of a button.

I would love to say this only goes on in the land of Facebook, but sometimes we unfriend people in life as well. They do something to upset us, hurt our feelings, let us down, or just make us downright angry, and we decide to go Cee Lo Green on them and say “Forget You.” It is really easy in fact. When someone doesn’t live up to what we think they should, you can just close them down and shut them out. There are 7,002,265,265 (as of this second anyway) other people in this world that we can devote our attention to after all. Why worry about this one Joe Schmo who just royally ticked us off ? When one relationship breaks down just cut your losses and move on to another. Right?

Well, that could be a good plan, but there is a slight snafu. With every relationship, if you are around someone long enough, conflict will arise. Every friendship we have will have its share of problems. Why? Because people are busted and broken. We make mistakes and let our emotions get the best of us at times. As John Ortberg says, “Everyone is normal until you get to know them.” Just ask my wife. She thought I was normal when we got married, and now she is stuck. Poor girl. Please pray for her tonight, okay?

The truth is, people will annoy, aggravate and hurt you. Sometimes people will let you down and mess things up. It is just part of it. Relationships are messier than eating ribs and corn on the cob without napkins or silverware. So we can continue going through life unfriending people or we can realize that no one is perfect and people will make mistakes. We can choose to hold grudges and let hot, molten lava run through our veins, or we can enjoy the healing springs of forgiveness. As those four ancient sages, the Beatles, once said, “Life is very short and there’s no time, for fussing and fighting my friend.”

Sure, sometimes it is tempting to unfriend people in life. Actually, at times it is the easiest thing to do, but that does not mean it is the best thing to do. If you keep unfriending people every time there is a problem, your Facebook feed becomes an awfully lonely and dull place.

Overlook people’s faults. Forgive. Seek restoration if at all possible. Don’t give up one someone just because they hurt you. Above all, look in the mirror and know that you mess up too. Extend others the same courtesy you would like to be given.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. –Matthew 18:21-22

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: The Most Connected, Unconnected People

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Recently, I was with a group of friends, and I suddenly realized I was not really with my friends. I was actually with another group of people, via my smart phone through Facebook. Have you noticed this phenomenon? Walk into any restaurant, scan the room, and see how many people have their faces dimly lit from the scant light of their phone.

It has become common for us to be connected to a vast amount of people, but deeply connected to few. Ignoring the person sitting across from us while giving someone on the internet our time seems to have become the norm. Could this get any more backward? Don’t get me wrong, I love staying connected with people through social networking, especially people that live in other zip codes, states, or countries. Yet, I have to wonder at times, do some of my real-life-in-the-flesh relationships suffer because my mind is absorbed elsewhere? Does social networking cause us to become an inch deep and a mile wide relationally? I think it very easily can, if we aren’t careful.

It is really simple to give the illusion that we are invested in the lives of others, but social networking is a quick fix. You can click “like” or leave a comment in a couple of seconds. It takes a whole lot of time and energy to actually do real life with people.

Maybe we just need a reminder to disconnect from our Facebook enabled phones and reconnect with the person sitting across from us. I promise that news, tweets, status updates, and sports scores can wait an hour or two. Be present. Always be present.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: The Green Within

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Can I make a confession? Sometimes, on Facebook I find myself looking at other peoples pictures, posts, information, etc. and out of nowhere I turn a shade of Hulk Green. I see the nice homes other people have, the brand new truck they drive, the speaking engagement they just finished, the 126 inch 3D TV hanging on their wall, the amazing trip they just went on, and I get a little green with envy. I call this the “Incredible Hulk Envy Syndrome” or IHES. This happens more than I would really like to admit. “What? Ministers aren’t suppose to have these kinds of problems.” I really wish that were true.

I think wanting what others have is something we all struggle with at times. It is easy to peruse peoples pages on Facebook, see all the good things in their life, and feel IHES flair up quick. Nothing good comes from either chronic or acute cases of IHES. First of all, it is simply wrong. It also robs us from enjoying what we do have. If we allow it to persist long enough it can even interfere with relationships and cause other problems in our lives.

You see, when we look into the lives of others we objectify the good and ignore the bad. We forget they are people, just like us, with their own share of problems. Yet, often when we examine our own lives we minimize the good and focus on the bad. We shine a spotlight on what we don’t have and pay little attention to the blessings in our lives.

We are a consumer driven society. Always chasing after the proverbial golden carrot dangling at the end of the string. Wanting, attaining, and being let down. So we keep lusting after what we do not have and buying what we cannot afford only to never satiate our appetites.

So what is the cure for Incredible Hulk Envy Syndrome? Thanking the Lord for what we do have. Realizing how incredibly blessed we are. Looking at our family, friends, and relationship with the Lord, and understanding that everything else is merely a bonus. Please don’t think I am a master at this, because I am not. Yet, whenever I go toe to toe with IHES I try to remember to give thanks for all I have been blessed with. Appreciating what we have and being thankful are the only way to kill the green monster.

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”
- Harold Coffin

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Sweeter Waters?

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There is a word that I am increasingly hearing when I do marriage counseling: Facebook. Currently, the best statistic I can find reports that Facebook is involved in approximately 20% of divorces. What? Yes, you heard me right. Facebook is involved in about 20% of divorces. Facebook is a direct portal for infidelity. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy Facebook. My wife and I both have accounts. It is great to stay in touch with old friends and be involved in other people’s lives, but every good thing can be used for destruction.

Currently, about 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women will have an affair at some point during their lifetime. Many of these will be done through social networking sites, especially Facebook, due to it’s massive amount of members.

There are some relationships that will fall victim to infidelity regardless, but Facebook has definitely opened the door wider and made the path more convenient for people to cheat on their spouse. Why is this? Facebook has made it much easier to keep in touch with “old flings”. Chances are good that relationships from your past are a member of the social networking giant. Communicating with others via Facebook can be done discretely.  It is easy to justify relationships on Facebook, and things can start innocently enough. After all, what is the harm of looking at someone’s pictures, chatting, or catching up? A lot actually. If your spouse is in the dark, it is a problem. Casual talking and flirting have high potential to lead to seeing the other person and/or a physical relationship. It is also important to remember that research shows that emotional affairs are just as damaging as physical ones.

So for those of us that are married, how can we protect our relationships? I think we first need to remember that none of us are above temptation. We may be tempted to think other waters are sweeter, but they always turn out sour. When a marriage is struggling, it is easy to think that finding someone else will end the problems. However, the problems simply follow a person to the next relationship where they are met with compounded problems. It is also easy to idealize past relationships, because we have a tendency to remember the good and forget the bad.

When it comes to my marriage, my wife and I have no secrets. We have each others passwords to every online account. We keep all things out in the open. We also set boundaries. Neither of us message members of the opposite sex unless the other is aware. We keep an open line of communication about our relationship. We talk about things that are uncomfortable instead of stuffing them down. We check in to make sure the other person’s needs are being met. We are not naive enough to think our marriage is above temptation, so we are proactive. We try and be vocal about how much we care about one another openly. We also make sure to keep God in the center of our relationship.

No marriage is perfect. Just like anything else in life, marriage is hard work and can be exhausting at times. You definitely get out what you put in. If we allow our relationships to drift and start to neglect our spouse, it is important to remember that there is always another person out there who will be more than happy to provide our spouse with attention.

“I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable.” – G.K. Chesterton

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: 25 Days of Thanks

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November is a great month to be on Facebook, because there is an abrupt change in people’s posting. There is less venting about daily frustrations and not as much negativity. Most everyone’s attention is oriented toward being thankful in November. Many people participate in posting something they are thankful for every day throughout the month on Facebook. Instead of listing something every day, I decided to give 25 things that I am thankful for all in one lump sum. Here is my gratitude list, in no particular order.

  1. I am thankful for the grace and love of God. He covers shortcoming after shortcoming.
  2. I am thankful for the wife God blessed me with. I do not deserve such a beautiful, fun, intelligent, and supportive woman. Thanks for putting up with me Dev. Thanks for forcing out a few laughs at my corny jokes. Thanks for putting up with me being in school and the time it takes. Thanks for being such a good mom and wife.
  3. I am thankful that I was able to celebrate Hayden’s one year birthday party last week. His life has been one of my greatest blessings.
  4. I am thankful for two wise, supportive, and encouraging parents. Thanks for loving me even when I am crosswise. Thanks for bringing me up when I am down. Thanks for loving God and people better than anyone else I know.
  5. I am thankful for a great church community. Everyone I am privileged to worship with is a blessing to my heart.
  6. I am thankful for my dog, Jacksie (who is named after C.S. Lewis’ dog). She loves me even when I feel unlovable. Always greets me with enthusiasm. She watches movies with me and snuggles with me at any given second.
  7. I am thankful for some time off this week. It was much needed. I haven’t been able to rest like I have this week in quite a while.
  8. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for those that live close, whom I see on a regular basis, and those that live afar. I am thankful for those friends I don’t see often who stay in touch. I am thankful for friends who pick back up right where you left off when it has been a long time since you last talked.
  9. I am thankful for being able to preach God’s word. I am thankful that God would use me.
  10. I am thankful I can help people work through their difficulties in life.
  11. I am thankful for the people that read these blogs and sometimes share them with others. Thanks for interacting with me. Thanks for letting me share my life with you and giving me insight into yours as well.
  12. I am thankful that I was able to be a part of sharing 187 meals with our community yesterday. I am blessed to be a part of Trout Creek. I am thankful for a church that loves people.
  13. I am thankful to be in school studying Theology. It is a blessing to learn more about God and to get to share what I learn.
  14. I am thankful for this time of year. I love the holidays, the cold, the smells, the short days, Christmas trees, giving, Christmas music, hot chocolate, and time with family.
  15. I am thankful that God always has a plan. That He is sovereign. That He knows how He will respond to my prayers before I ask.
  16. I am thankful that I have gotten to play a video game all week, late at night, that I have been playing since I was 5 years old. 25 years of Zelda. It was a treat that it came out this week.
  17. I am thankful for our new Air Conditioner, that I needed in the middle of November.
  18. I am thankful for a date with my wife last night. It was lovely to be with you. Seeing Cirque Du Soleil was a blast.with you. I laughed every time you said, “do you see that?”. Sorry that there were no restaurants open besides McDonalds. I am also sorry that McDonalds drowned our chicken sandwiches with a mountain of mayonnaise.
  19. I am thankful that I was able to reconnect with someone I have missed this month.
  20. I am thankful for the warm, cozy bed I am sitting in right this moment.
  21. I am thankful for people that have inspired me, taught me, and spoken wisdom into my life.
  22. I am thankful my whole family is healthy.
  23. I am thankful for all the good cooks in my family. Therefore, I am thankful for all the food that makes me fat this time of year.
  24. I am thankful for books. I love being able to read and learn new things.
  25. I am thankful for being reminded to be thankful. Thanks to the people in my life that remind me how blessed I am. I am blessed beyond measure. I have more than I deserve.

I truly hope that you and your loved ones have had a blessed week. Life is truly good. Let’s remember to continue being thankful.

What are you most thankful for this week?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: Dirty Cup? Clean It Up!

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Is there any mission field bigger than Facebook? There are so many unchurched people floating around out there in Facebook Land. It has become a pretty standard thing for us Christians to give regular shout outs to J-E-S-U-S on Facebook. Can I get a hallelujah (did you say it out loud)?

There are some people that make Facebook entirely about Jesus. Their wall is basically a stream of daily encouragement, praise, and Bible verses. Daily manna, so to speak, for your feed.

There are some that try and make every status update into something spiritual. “I just woke up! Praise the Lord for letting me breathe another day. Thank ya, thank ya, Jesus.” “Getting in the car to head to work, but not before I have a talk with the Lord.” “Headed to lunch. Nothing beats a sandwich and some prayer.” “Spending time with my friends tonight. Really hoping we talk about people’s salvation and stuff.” “Home at last, home at last, thank the Lord Almighty, I am home at last. Goodnight Facebook friends. Don’t forget to say your prayers.”

Then there are the Jesus Facebook police. They strive to make you feel bad if you vent, have a bad attitude, or say that you are watching a PG movie. They are sure to make you ask yourself, “WWJP?” (What would Jesus post?).

We also have the prayer request gossipers. They post status updates like, “Please pray for Ray. He is living in sin.” Please lift up Irene, she is sick because she hasn’t been living for Jesus.” “I am worried about Tommy, he had a cussin fit at my house last night. Please keep him in your prayers.”

Sometimes we also have the clever Christians status updates. “If you love Jesus, like this status.” “You have a friend request from Jesus. Will you accept it?” “God says, get off of Facebook and get into My book.”

Maybe you think I am being hard on us. I include myself because I talk about Jesus/God/Christianity/Church on Facebook rather often. Is there anything wrong with having God status updates? Absolutely not. I had never thought much about it until a few of weeks ago. I typed in my God exhorting status update and right before I hit “share” I stopped. I asked myself, “Why am I sharing this on Facebook? Is it because I want to seem spiritual to others or because I want others to be encouraged? Am I posting about Jesus so others can see me or because I want to praise the Lord?” My fingers went to the backspace key. I was updating my status to make me look like a “good Christian”.

Remember the Pharisees? Jesus was always having words with them. There was this one time when Jesus called them out. Let me share with you some of what He said to them in Matthew 23:25-26. “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean.”

The day I was going to post a status about Jesus, I realized I was fixing to do a dirty cup post. That is, I was trying to look good on the outside. I was sharing for my own glory. It is so easy to make ourselves look good on Facebook. It is really easy to build a clean outer cup image to all of our friends while the inside of our cup is kind of crusty.

Let’s keep giving God praise. Please continue to allow Jesus to spill over into every area of your life. Feel free to encourage others with what God puts on your heart through Facebook, but please, no dirty cup posting. Every time we type a status update let’s make sure we are doing it for the right reason. Let’s make sure the inner cup is just as shiny as the outer cup.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: Innocent Until Proven Guilty

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One thing I have noticed about Facebook (and life) is that it is really easy to make assumptions about others. Sometimes we read other peoples words without understanding what they mean, so we make assumptions. We make assumptions about friends people have, photos they post, places they go.That is, sometimes we question the intentions or character of someone else because we don’t understand their behavior, decisions, or what they say. Sometimes people even say things about others to question their character. So, instead of checking our facts, we make assumptions based on what they say.

At times, we condemn people based on what we think they did or meant. Aren’t people supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? When it comes to the behaviors or words of other people, there should be no room for assumptions. We must not let perception drive our relationships. Instead, we must mind the gap. What gap am I referring to? The gap between what other people do and how we interpret it. When it comes to the actions of others and the words that they speak we can fill in that gap with one of two things. We can believe the best about others or we can assume the worst. When it comes to other people, we can believe the best about their intentions and what they say or we can assume the worst until we get the chance to address the issue with them.

So what is my point? If you don’t know what someone means by what they say or you don’t understand why they acted the way they did then go talk to them. Please, just go talk to them. Don’t assume you know their heart or intentions. If you assume the worst from others, you will find it every time. Instead, believe the best about others until you get the facts straight from the person. Assume people are innocent until they are proven guilty.

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. – Matthew 18:15

Don’t assume you know another persons motives and let it cost you a relationship. Believe the best. Have a talk. Don’t let assumptions drive your life.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday: Don’tcha Wish You Were Hot Like Me, Don’tcha?

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I can’t help it. I. Am. Awesome. Sometimes, it is hard to be so much better than everyone else. Ripley’s called wanting to do a special on me, but I don’t waste my time with frivolous stuff like that. I can’t say as I blame them though. I am young. Attractive. Have good taste. I have many leather bound books. Could pretty much have my pick of any girl. This would be the anthem of a narcissist.

What is a narcissist you ask? A person who is vain, self-absorbed, and selfish.

You might be a narcissist if you can answer yes to five or more of the following:

  • Feel that you are extremely important. Exaggerating your achievements and feeling    you deserve recognition.
  • Fantasize about unlimited success, power, brilliance or beauty.
  • Believe that you are “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people.
  • Need to be praised all the time.
  • Have a sense of entitlement.
  • Take advantage of others for your own desires.
  • Lack the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes.
  • Find yourself envious of other people or believe they are envious of you.
  • Have an arrogant attitude.

Now, some people seriously struggle with this. They have a clinical problem. Yet, if we are honest, can’t we see ourselves in there somewhere? Don’t we think a little more of ourselves than we should? Aren’t we all at the center of our universe at times?

Think about what we see on our favorite social networking sites. Check out my new _______ (house, car, girl, television, shirt, apple gadget, and anything else imaginable). We all do this. We want people to know how cool we are. We want to get applauded. We want our kudos. Doesn’t it get a little out of hand sometimes? Do we really need everyone on our “friends list” to give us constant affirmation? Sometimes, do we possibly come across as a little bit narcissistic, whether we mean to or not?

Maybe, at times we think more of ourselves than we should. Think about status updates. Do people really care if we just drank a cup of coffee? Is the public dying to know that we just went to the bathroom? Are people checking our page every ten minutes in anticipation of what we will do next?

I think sometimes we get a little bit hyper focused on ourselves and how we are coming off to our imaginary audience out there in facebook land. We really aren’t as hot as we think we are. How would life look different if we spent a little less time focusing on ourselves? Dare I suggest we could probably find a better use of our time than being so concerned about what others think about us?

Galatians 1:10 states, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

I find it difficult to focus on pleasing Christ when all of my energy is spent trying to please others or make them think how cool I am.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Facebook Friday – Have Your Private Parts Become Public Parts?

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How recognizable is this picture? The “ever so casual, hold my camera from above, and lean over a bit,  exposing my cleavage, but not focusing exclusively on said cleavage, so people will find me attractive, but not overly trashy” shot. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a picture like this on Facebook I could afford to have my own Island built somewhere in the South Pacific and stocked with a never ending supply of pastries (bear claw anyone?) and Diet Coke.

We get it. You have breasticas. Just like the other 3.5 billion women in the world. Just because you have them does not mean everyone wants to see them. I wish we could all understand the chasm that divides love and lust is vast. Ladies, you do not have to show skin to get attention. Guys, our lustful lust is crippling our ability to truly love and have a true connectedness with women. I work with so many men all the time having to untangle problems in their relationships because they never figured out how to love. They only learned how to lust. Lust promises something big and under-delivers in a colossal way.

I wish I could say it is only adolescents (with their crazy out of control hormones) that post pictures that devalue themselves. I wish it was only the teenage guys that have a lust problem. Truth is, this post applies to people of all ages. But surely Christians don’t struggle in this area? I wish that were the case. Brothers and sisters, lets get this whole love/lust thing figured out because it is killing our capacity to truly loved and be loved.

Speaking as a guy and a counselor, I know so many men that desperately struggle to keep their hearts pure. I can’t count the guys I have talked to who deleted their Facebook account because women (yes even Christian women) were posting pictures of themselves that made it easier to lust. Sure, when a man lusts it is his choice and his problem. I get that. But please don’t make it easier. My wife knows not to bring cheesecake home if I am trying to watch what I eat. It is my choice if I eat it, but that would be setting me up for failure.

Guys, what if we gave women the respect they deserve? What if we related to them as sisters. What if we worked to keep our eyes straight, our minds clear, and our hearts pure. What if we served women instead of serving ourselves?

I realize women lust too (as a matter of fact 17% of women struggle with a pornography addiction) but again, I am speaking as a guy. So ladies, please keep your private parts just that, private. Guys, don’t let your eyes linger. Maybe if we fixed this love/lust problem our lives would be different. Our relationships stronger. Our walk with God closer. Our ability to truly love intact.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. – Ephesians 5:3

Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.
Josh

Disclaimer: I felt dirty posting this picture.

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