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Archive for the ‘Antioch’ Category




*NEW* Share Features Bar

 

Thanks to Greg Buchanan, there are new share features at the bottom of each post.  Excited to have an update to the blog and to make it easier for interaction.

Especially while the switch is new and there’s no history for each post–share away to your heart’s content!!

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Love is Never Wrong

One of the problems most people have encountered with religion is that it can often degenerate into a form of behaviorism.

Conform yourself to the right behaviors, at least externally, and you can pass as being religious, spiritual or good. Many times the majority of the focus from a behavior standpoint, is on the things that one shouldn’t do – you know, things that bad people do. This puritanical focus can easily lend itself to judgementalism, guilt, and a straight-faced, duty-bound faith. Meanwhile all the attention is focused on who’s doing naughty things and who is better than those people because they aren’t doing the naughty things.

Certainly this isn’t the life God has called us to.

What would happen if when we flip the system around? What if religion also focused on doing the things that are never wrong, rather than avoiding the things that are always wrong?

It’s an interesting question.

As I’ve reflected on this idea, I keep returning to several themes of behaviors in this positive vein. Here are five things in scripture that are never wrong:

Humility. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle.” And we’re familiar with Jesus words when he says in Matthew 20:16, “The last will be first and the first will be last.” What I get from these verses is that there is never a time when authentic humility is frowned on by God or a bad strategy for life. It is always a good thing to be humble.

Repentance. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful,” Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation,” and in Matthew, Jesus tells Peter to forgive his brother, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22)” In Scripture, confessing sins and repenting – saying you’re sorry – is always a good and healthy part of maintaining and restoring relationship with God and others. Do you want to move your life forward today? Think of somebody you can forgive, and forgive them. Think of something you need to say sorry for, and say sorry for it.

Faith. It says in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” We also sense Jesus’s discouragement echoed throughout the book of Matthew when he says, “Oh you of little faith” (Ex. Matthew 6:30, 14:31) From these I draw the conclusion that God is always more desirous of nurturing and drawing out a greater faith, reliance upon him, and trust in his promises. That we would end each day with greater faith than whatever our starting point was on that given day. Faith and more faith is never wrong and always good.

Prayer. Paul talks in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 about “Praying continually.” And the 150 Psalms, or songs of prayer, in the middle of Scripture make it very clear to us that it’s always appropriate to pray. There’s never a time when turning our eyes and tuning our ears to God falls out of bounds of what we should be doing in that moment. Prayer is never wrong.

Love. Possibly more important than all the others, is the idea that love is never wrong. In Galatians 5:22-23 love is listed as the first of many attributes that make up the fruit of the spirit. The verses close by saying, “Against such things there is no law.” Meaning there is never a time when love, or these other virtues, are legislated against. Therefore, there is never a time when love is wrong.

Jesus commands us to love and, in the famous passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” In verse 8 he declares, “Love never fails.” Love is both a sanction and imperative. Sanction meaning it’s always good and imperative meaning we should always do it.

We can certainly do foolish things out of love, like a parent enabling a child’s drug addiction. However, the fact that the parent loves their child is not wrong, just unwisely expressed.

One of the best ways to follow Jesus and develop authentic spirituality is to start each day with a mental framework of love. With this mindset we begin to discern, “Who am I going to bless? Who am I going to seek to encourage?” And, motivated by love, “What offense can I overlook?”

There is no law, no legislation, no case against love. It is never wrong. Biblical and sacrificial love is fully sanctioned!

 

Walking by faith presents a tension in life and we can seek to resolve this tension by focusing on black and white categories of things not to do. This approach misses much of the positive thrust and heart of what it truly means to live like Christ. A better way to resolve the tension, solve the riddle, and navigate the paradox of faith is to focus on doing the things that are never wrong.

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Micah Bournes: What a Fool

I love this new spoken word piece by Micah Bournes. He performed it at Antioch last week and it was a great encouragement and challenge in the midst of The Pursuit of God series.

“What a fool to pray with expectation, like she actually thought God would hear and respond. It’s these kind of Christians that make us all look crazy. You know, the ones with faith.”

Powerful.

Micah Bournes :: What A Fool from Antioch Church on Vimeo.

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Special Music – Ben

Last Sunday we kicked off Paradox – A Series on Faith at Antioch. My good friend Ben Larson wrote and performed this song about Joshua and the battle of Jericho for special music. I love how so many artists have poured into this series! Click here to see the rest of the poetry, design, and artwork from last Sunday.

Ben Larson :: Jericho from Antioch Church on Vimeo.

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Loving People Well

“Mature people deal with differing temperaments or personalities maturely and usually enjoy some success.”

How do we reconcile conflicting personalities in relationships? from :redux on Vimeo.

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Antioch Interns 2013

The annual map of Antioch Summer Interns is out!!

Below is are the 2013 interns and where they are coming to us from on the US map.  The energy levels at the Antioch offices are about to go through the roof!

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Clunie House

I had the privilege of guest lecturing this morning for a Westmont College May Term class at their urban campus called “The Clunie House,” a restored Victorian Mansion in Downtown San Francisco.

Twenty amazing students doing a one month intensive before heading to Cambodia and Thailand.

Also good to catch up with my friend Rachel Goble, Founder of The SOLD Project.

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Brenda Salter-McNeil

One of the most pleasant surprises of The Justice Conference 2013 for me was Brenda Salter-McNeil’s keynote from Friday night.

I dare you to watch this one and not be moved!

Brend Salter-McNeil from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

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Feeling lost in today’s world?

Guest Blog by Keith Wright


A funny thing happened when I went to help change the conditions of the poor in Africa. I was changed.

Twenty years ago, I moved to post-war Uganda to do my part to help. What I came to realize was: God’s call for me to meet the needs of the poor also involved His desire to transform my life.

When we respond to God’s call to care for “the least of these,” we discover something that we have always known, if we are honest — that we are broken as well. No, we don’t often wonder where our next meal is coming from or mourn the loss of another child taken by a preventable illness.

However, we struggle with issues of contentment, relationships and identity that can leave us harried and unhappy. In Isaiah 58, God promises us that when we “spend ourselves in behalf of the hungry…our light will rise in the darkness…and our healing will quickly appear.”

My experience over the past two decades has been exactly that. God is standing by to meet our needs as we respond to the needs of others.

Last week, I was in Ethiopia and visited a teenage-led household. Gibril, a 14-year-old boy, is the oldest sibling of four who were orphaned when their mother died. They live in a small rented room with all of their belongings neatly placed in three small plastic bags. Their father had abandoned the family years ago.

I first met Gibril and his siblings three years ago, and they were inconsolable. There was no hope in their eyes or their future. This past week, I was thankful to see that joy and hope were back in in their lives.

Through child sponsorship, Food for the Hungry (FH) staff work with Gibril’s household, and thousands like it, to provide teaching, training, counseling and basic resources to inspire hope. I left my time with Gibril last week with a renewed sense of gratitude for my own family and the protection He has given us – but also with a sense of awe in how God can use people like us to inspire hope in such difficult circumstances.

FH is committed to what I will call mutual transformation. The impact of our work is not directed only at the poor of this world – but recognizes that we as responders have needs to be healed as well.

Feeling bewildered and lost in today’s fast-paced world? Start by giving your life away and engaging with those in need relationally and materially. I know you will be blessed as you do your part in ending poverty.

 

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Kilns College: Defying the Numbers

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

A week ago, I wrote a post [Education by the Numbers] highlighting some (slightly alarming) statistics about higher education in America. Through those numbers we saw an education system with some serious issues to address. Issues that Kilns College is tackling head on.

While student loan debt is hovering frighteningly near the one trillion dollar mark, at Kilns College not a single student has graduated with debt from Kilns.

On a national scale, only 11% of students from the bottom income quartile hold a college degree. Fifty-six percent of our students admit they did not plan to go to college due to financial hardship… until they discovered Kilns College. With undergraduate tuition at only $85 per credit, students can afford to attend without taking out loans or placing a financial burden on family.

Currently in Oregon, only 28% of residents hold a 4-year college degree. Kilns College is a progressive start-up institution offering an innovative academic model and a great option for students who didn’t think college fit into their lives.

While we exist largely to serve the Central Oregon community, three distinct countries are represented in our student population—showing a need for a reformed college system not only in Oregon, but around the world.

 

For more information on Kilns College, visit http://www.kilnscollege.org!

 

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The Wytsma Girls (courtesy of Benjamin Edwards Photography)

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Posted in: Antioch

Pete Kelley

Pete Kelley :: Judge not, that ye be not judged from Antioch Church on Vimeo.

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Worship

A good friend once sent me this quote from J.I. Packer on Worship:

“If worship services are so fixed that what’s being offered fits the expectations, the hopes, even the prejudices, of any one of these groups as opposed to the others, I don’t believe the worship style glorifies God.”

I really like it. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself in the theological debates about “what is worship?” “should we use music to worship?” “what style of praise and music is most worshipful?” etc. etc.

When I was in grad school with a bunch of other single guys who had nothing better to do than read Nietzsche, debate Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology and circle back endlessly to conversations on the modern church — we talked about worship stuff all the time.

With Antioch growing up from a tiny church plant of 30 folks to a pretty well established church, however, I find these questions and conversations coming back up in my mind more and more.

“When does a progressive church plant need to step back and look at what silly things it is doing that need to be re-envisioned?”

“Do we do the same things other churches did that we reacted to when we dreamed of Antioch in the beginning?”

“Does our use of music and the arts really keep God at the center — does it aim at the glory of God and the reconciliation of us to Him?”

That is why I love Packer’s quote above — if our prejudices… if our fixed routines… it we fit lazy expectations… if we favor one… then our style probably isn’t broad enough or rich enough to be God’s style of worship.

Thinking about worship isn’t about solving a problem like a math equation — it is much more like making an adjustment as in steering. The value is in the repetition. The value is in asking the question. The value is in recalibrating.

Anyway, below is a Redux answer to a recent question wrestling with many of the same themes on Worship.

Is Singing at Church Worship? from :redux on Vimeo.

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Top 10 Reasons I’m Counting Down to The 2013 Justice Conference

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

Since being hired at Kilns College, I’ve had the awesome opportunity—blessing, really—to be a small part of The Justice Conference. It’s truly amazing to see the conference staff, Kilns students, and countless (seriously, countless) volunteers come together to pull off this awesome event.  I’ve honestly found it difficult to sleep all week because The Justice Conference is in Philadelphia this weekend. Here are my top 10 reason why I’ve been looking forward to this event all year!

1.     It’s the single event where thousands of people who care about justice gather together. That’s a lot of awesome people in one place!

2.     Kilns College co-sponsors the event with World Relief so I get to spend 48 hours meeting people and talking about Kilns College and why it’s a place that’s revolutionizing higher education. If you’re coming to the conference come check out the Kilns table and say hi!

3.     Micah Bournes will be performing. This guy is seriously talented!

4.     You get the opportunity to meet representatives from hundreds of nonprofit organizations

5.     I was honored to ask to speak during a pre-conference session. If you’ll be at the pre-conference check out my session on education! While you’re at it, check out all the pre-conference sessions on The Justice Conference website

6.     My dear friend Erin Lytle is Director for this conference and works tirelessly 365 days a year to make it an awesome experience for all the attendees, exhibitors and speakers.

7.     This year’s conference is in Philly! After living for a few years in New England, I’m excited to be back on the East Coast, even if just for a few days.

8.     It’s a great networking event!

9.     Kilns College President Ken Wytsma’s new book Pursuing Justice will be available at the conference bookstore

10.  This year, Kilns College has a HUGE announcement to make at the conference… can’t wait to share it with everyone!

 

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Book Review

Here’s another thoughtful and honest review of Pursuing Justice from Pastor Glen Woods.

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Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Pursuing Justice: the call to live and die for bigger things by Ken Wytsma with D.R. Jacobsen agitates the consumeristic American status quo, showing us how to move toward tangible expressions of dying to self to benefit others for God’s glory. It’s not for readers who prefer to compartmentalize their lives so that their involvement in justice does not conflict with their desire for comfort. Or, maybe it is… Maybe this book is the right prescription to break comfortable hearts and captivate imaginations so that we will get a glimpse–albeit veiled–of what God hears, what God sees, what God is about around the globe and close to home.

Reader beware: this volume is not the typical social justice fare. There is not a comprehensive list of social injustices around the world. Nor are there definitive solutions for the problems the author does address, some of which are not well known. Instead, he seeks to inspire and challenge readers to become more aware of social justice issues which may be glaring at them in their sociological blind spots, something which most of us have.

The author has done his research. From first hand experiences and interviews to extensively documented narratives, both domestic and international, Wytsma weaves a simultaneously heart-breaking and joyful web of stories.

But he doesn’t stop there. He infuses into the narrative theological, sociological, historical, philosophical, and ecclesial depth. Pursuing Justice is a serious, weighty book on one hand, and a heart-compelling work of compassion and inspiration on the other. Truly, it is an enjoyable read with potentially dissonant consequences for future prospects of comfortable living inoculated from the messiness of human suffering. Although it is not a comprehensive text book, colleges would be served well by adding it to their reading lists in relevant courses.

It would have been easier for me if I had not read Pursuing Justice. Now I feel convicted to examine the motives and content of some of my prayers. On page 188 he reflects on the contrast between the prayer lives of two teen girls, the first in a wealthy American home, praying for a new car; the second crying alone in a brothel, enslaved in the sex trade, praying to God for help. He then writes

“I was shocked to realize that my prayers, that I’d always thought of as spiritual, might in fact be discordant noise in the mind of God, who is attuned to the urgent pleas of the vulnerable– my requests in one ear, their cries in the other.”

Rather than picking a ideological slant and demonizing the political, religious, and philosophical enemy, Wytsma helps us navigate the consequences of ideas, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses within conservatism and liberal progressivism. Conservatives will be happy to know that he writes from a strong theologically and biblically evangelical perspective. Liberals will be happy to know that he breaks new ground in the social justice conversation, not least by offering a robust, cutting edge treatment of the topic which honors social justice pioneers, but also captures the imagination of the growing numbers of conservatives who are gaining a fresh perspective on what it means to take up our cross to follow Jesus. Wytsma writes, “That’s one of the lessons about living and dying for bigger things: the call to give your life away is more about the small and faithful over many years than the grand and exciting” (p.144).

Lest any evangelical reader have any lingering doubts about purchasing a book devoted to justice, let me assure you that he does treat the connection between the gospel and justice. It is a thorough, constructive, and redemptive study which embeds the entire volume within the rubric of the nativity, the cross, and the empty tomb, reminding us that God intervened on our behalf as an act of justice. He now calls us to intervene on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed all around the world, and right where we live daily.

Question is: will you?

Will I?

Come, let’s take up our cross and follow Jesus, learning to live and die for bigger things. But be advised, this isn’t some pie-in-the-sky guilt trip to motivate people to tackle projects exceeding the scope of realism or God’s call on their lives. It is, on the other hand, a prompt to become alert to how our daily choices affect others, and to engage in helping others where God leads us, whether close to home or on another continent.

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We All…

We all need a break sometime

We all could use some comfort food

We all can use a breakthrough every now and then

We all would like some change

We all have books we wish we had read or could read

We all have places we’d like to travel to

We all wish we could go back and relive some things… spend more time with kids or choose a different path

We all hate the feeling of being misunderstood

We all have good days and bad days

We all tend to forgive ourselves quicker than we do others

We all have blind spots

We all find it hard to be perfect and live up to everyone’s expectations

We all struggle with finding the time or energy to pursue God more

We all have doubts

We all have fears

We all –deep down- want the approval or respect of our father

We all want to know secrets

We all want to know what happens next

We all have things in common… we all need affirmation

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Social Media Strategy II – Nuts and Bolts (Part 3)

Guest Blog By Ben Larson.
This post is the third in a series on Church and Social Media. Click here to start from the beginning.

Okay, you’ve got a grasp on the Big Picture of social media and your strategy is in place…now what? Here are some basics of social media management that I’ve picked up from my friends, mentors, mistakes, and reading.

  • Make your posts visually appealing. At the writing of this post, memes are the hot ticket on Facebook. A meme, loosely defined, is an image with text on it. They are currently outperforming every other form of post, including statuses, regular images, and videos.
  • Play the long game. Build healthy, steady growth into your strategy now, so that after a year or two you have several thousand engaged listeners. You can buy 5,000 listeners and have them in a week, but they aren’t going to pay any attention to your message (if they’re even real people).
  • Use tools, but not exclusively. Tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are essential for anyone that intends to tweet and facebook regularly and doesn’t want to spend hours logging in and out of various accounts. But don’t think that they excuse you from ever having to log in. You should still be monitoring your posts to make sure they’re showing up correctly, interacting with other accounts, and monitoring your replies and comments on each of your pages. Take advantage of the cool toys out there, but don’t lose track of what’s actually going on in your accounts.
  • Find your peak traffic times. There are apps out there to help you do this, but only if you’re already getting significant traffic. Check out Agora Pulse’s Facebook Barometer, a new Google Chrome plug in that analyzes your Facebook fans and posts, or Tweriod, a Twitter tool that tells you when the majority of your followers are online. While these tools will give you a good head start in this department, keeping tabs on your own successes and failures is always the best way to monitor your social media efforts.
  • Get a graphic designer attached to your social media department. A typical organization has more graphic design needs than human resources, and churches are no exception, but if you can carve out an hour or two a  month to create new memes and help keep the look of your social media pages up to date and fresh, do it.
  • Deal with negative interactions. You shouldn’t respond to EVERY interaction. It makes you look desperate. But you do need to respond to most negative interactions, whether directly or indirectly. Don’t expect everyone to like what you post or agree with your message. Decide how you’ll deal with negative interactions beforehand so you don’t have to think about it in the moment. It’s hard to know whether to delete, ignore, or respond to something negative when you’re still angry that someone had the nerve to say it in the first place. Here are a couple guidelines I use:
    Obcenity/Profanity. Make your own decisions on this one, but I consider obscenity and profanity automatic grounds for deletion. Bad language can offend or turn off visitors that land on your page, even if you aren’t the one who said it. It’s like your family cussing when you have company over: you may not be cussing, but it happened in your house, and your guests won’t want to come back. Just delete it and move on. Same goes for spam. They should know better, and you have the right to moderate the conversation.
    The crazies. If someone isn’t really crossing any social boundaries, but their comment is so out to lunch that there is no appropriate response, bury it in positive comments. Have your friends and family members (that have different last names) leave enough positive comments that the negative comment seems insignificant. DO NOT sic your family and friends on the person to engage and reply to the comment. That’s just asking for trouble from every direction.
    o  When they’re right. Negativity isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe you’re actually wrong. Maybe your message is missing an important part of an issue. Maybe some healthy dialogue will result, driving more commenters to join the conversation. At the very least, someone thought your message was worth responding to. That’s got to be worth something. Even if you disagree with someone, if their tone is respectful, thank them for commenting and try to continue building the relationship. Remember that this is a conversation you’re having in public, and make sure that it represents you and your message well and respects the other person and their opinion.
    o  Ignoring a comment on Facebook. Ignoring a negative comment that is all alone on a post is rarely a wise move. I won’t say it’s never appropriate, but I can’t think of a reason to ignore one. Leaving a negative comment all alone on your page is kind of like leaving your dirty underwear on the kitchen table. There’s no law against it, but it isn’t very healthy. It communicates to your audience that you either think it belongs there, don’t care about it, or – worst of all – are so checked out that you don’t know it’s there.

Good luck, and have fun!

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Martin Luther King Jr. on Education

Guest Blogger: Melissa McCreery

When I began my typical social media ritual this past Monday morning, I found my Facebook and Twitter feeds overflowing with some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most popular quotes, in observation of the MLK holiday.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Even President Obama alluded to Dr. King throughout the inauguration ceremony and during his speech on Monday, saying,

“We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still… just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth” (as transcribed in the Washington Post).

While King is remembered by most for being a voice, leader and symbol of equality in a time in history when equality was largely absent, his life was a symbol of more than the mark he left on the civil rights movement. He cared passionately about injustices of all kinds—be they global or domestic—issues of healthcare, malnutrition, violence, war, or transportation. It is his methodically astute voice on the purpose of education that has me writing this post today.

Nearly two decades before King led the March on Washington and delivered his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, he was but a humble undergraduate student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. There, King was an ardent and articulate advocate for what he believed to be the true purpose of education. He championed the important dual role education plays in society.

True education, King said, is more than memorization, grades, writing and acquiring information. Yes, education must teach its students to think critically and with reason, but it is responsible for so much more than that.  Education must also teach a set of morals and speak to the development of students’ character. Education should challenge students to think critically and with moral reason; to live life by a set of ideals and moral standards; to decipher right from wrong and truth from untruth. Teaching the next generation to be men and women of compassion and integrity.

Below is an excerpt from a 1947 article King wrote in the Morehouse campus newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, when he was a junior there.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals… Education without morals is like a ship without a compass, merely wandering nowhere. It is not enough to have the power of concentration, but we must have worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. It is not enough to know truth, but we must love truth and sacrifice for it.”

I admire Dr. King for an abundance of reasons, certainly for his bravery and fortitude in the face of racism and hatred. Yet, as an educator, what has always stood out to me is King’s intensely pronounced belief that education is the gateway to creating a just, equal and free society. In essence, education is the single entity from which truth, compassion, courage and justice are born. Perhaps if the world had taken Dr. King’s educational views to heart, he would not have been known as America’s greatest voice of freedom, for it would not have been necessary.

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