Riff's Christian Journal

A Layman's View Of Christian Theology

Is There Discrimination Against Christians? … Yes!

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The basic meaning of “discrimination” is prejudice, bigotry, bias, intolerance, etc. Without a proper realization of what it means to discriminate against something or someone how can it be told that discrimination is real and that it is a clear and present danger.

The 1st Amendment of the Constitution begins this way:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The Bible is the guide for how Christians are to live while in this world, and the 1st Amendment guarantees our rights in living out our lives as guided by the Bible. The problem arises when secular society sees differently on whether the Bible or secular humanism should rule the lifestyle of the average citizen. As the Church has become less important in the societal life of the average citizen so has the influence of the Bible become less important as a guide for morality, and because of that so has the outspokenness of Christians become no longer welcomed.

The decline of Christian influence because of the increase of secular humanism has now made Christianity irrelevant in the average life of the non-Christian in the United States. Thus what was once considered immoral or unnatural has now become the norm and is now the leader in how the average person is to view their lifestyle. In most cases, as long as love is involved, it is OK to now do what the Bible calls sinful because society says it is OK to do.

This is where discrimination comes to the fore. Here is an example. Secular society says that homosexuality is OK. After all, they love one another and they should be able to marry like heterosexuals. The Bible, however, says much about the homosexual relationship but let us look at some verses from the New Testament. In Romans 1: 26-27 we read:

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

So, Christians, “born again” Christians, see homosexuality as an unnatural act, and one that God says is a sinful activity. Secular society says that it is OK. What was once seen as evil is now seen as good and for that reason Christians have no right in “judging” others in a relationship that is now deemed “natural”. Basically, we are being told to stop spreading ridiculous ideas about homosexuality being sinful. They tell us that we should embrace this movement and allow it to go on, no matter what we believe, and to refrain in protesting in our responding to it being forced upon us, even though it goes against our religious beliefs to participate in it in any way that acknowledges its legitimacy, and by doing so we are being discriminated against and are looked upon as being intolerant bigots.

This clearly is a violation of our 1st Amendment rights in being denied our God-given, and Constitutional guarantee, to freely exercise our religious beliefs by refusing to participate in this activity in any way that would make it look as a legitimate activity instead of it being a sinful activity as proclaimed by God and the Bible.

As for homosexual marriages, in Matthew 19: 4-6 Jesus said the following:

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Clearly, Jesus says that a marriage is to be between “a man and a woman”. Jesus also stated that “what God has joined together, let no man separate.” By secular society saying that homosexuals can legally get married is to go against Jesus (who is God in flesh) by separating what God has joined together by willfully disobeying God in so doing.

Again, by forcing Christians to participate in a homosexual wedding, even if they are only forced to provide a service as part of the activity, is to violate their 1st Amendment right to refuse to engage in an activity that legitimizes this un-natural activity, one that God says not to do and, in being forced to do so, they are being discriminated against by that very act.

Yes, discrimination is being done in a big way, covered by a secular society crying foul for the “civil rights” being denied of people engaging in an activity that God says is an un-natural and sinful activity, and doing so by using secular law which they make superior to God’s Law.

In short, you are guilty of discrimination against Christians and you are in violation of their 1st Amendment right to freely exercise their religious beliefs. What is worse, you are willfully disobeying the commands of God in allowing this activity to take place.

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

April 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Are You Working Or Resting For Salvation?

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Back in the 80’s I was an Ordained Elder and, on what was known as “Laity Sunday”, I had been asked to bring the message. So I selected a topic about “Finding Rest In A Busy World” and I preached a sermon on the following verses from Matthew 11:

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

I felt that it was a good sermon and that it got the point across about resting in Jesus from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. In the years that followed that verse kept bothering me and I kept thinking that I was missing the true spiritual aspect of those verses. Well, the other day it came to me what I do believe is the real meaning of what Jesus was saying.

Yes, we can find rest when we bring all of our cares and woes to Him in prayer, and He will give us peace of such a nature that it will give us relief from worry in a way that allows us to rest in our trust for Him. However, there is more, a much deeper meaning that we find in these verses. The two key words at which we must look, and compare with other scripture verses, are the words “labor” and “rest”.

The word “labor” actually means to be wearied from working hard, toiling, etc. That I could understand but what was missing was working hard at what? What is it that Jesus is talking about from which we should stop working hard in doing? That is the question and it has taken me quite a long time in noticing what it is about what Jesus is talking.

Actually the thought of what it is, to which Jesus is alluding, came to me when I was reading, again for the umpteenth time, from the book of Hebrews in chapter four. First in Hebrews 4: 1 we read the following:

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

Then, in verse ten of chapter 4 we read this:

For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

It was at this point that I could feel I was at the very edge of seeing what it is about what Jesus is talking, and it was then that I remembered what Ephesians 2: 8, 9 says:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

There it is… “not of works”… ! Do you see it? When we are saved it is not because of any works that we have done but by faith given to us with which to believe. In other words, we cease or “rest” from our works, or from trying to earn salvation and just trust in Jesus for having done for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

In the salvation of anyone we are to rest from working at being saved and just trust in Jesus for saving us and, in doing so, we will find rest for our souls. We have this promise of entering into His rest just by “resting” from laboring or toiling at our works in trying to be saved. As in Hebrews 4: 10, when we are saved it is because we have “ceased from our works” and just enter into the rest given by Jesus.

By resting from our works of righteousness, that we thought we could do, and trusting instead in the works of Jesus, we will find that by entering into His rest we will find rest for our souls in our salvation.

In short, just stop trying to earn salvation by your works, instead rest by faith in the finished works of Jesus, and you will find true rest for your souls.

Resting is as simple as admitting that we cannot save ourselves and seeing the need to bow before Jesus to proclaim our sinfulness, to call out to Him and confess that Jesus is Lord, and that you want to rest from your sinful works and instead trust in Him for forgiveness. Only by doing so can one have the rest that Jesus promises.

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Will you not now stop from your works and look to the rest that Jesus gives? Will you not proclaim Him as Lord and believe that God has raised Him from the grave? Take His love and forgiveness upon you and follow Him. Just trust in Jesus and enter into the rest that only Jesus can give. The promise remains, even to today, for entering into His rest. Do not resist and come up short of entering.

Stop trying to earn salvation. Be released from the feeling of guilt. Enter into the rest that Jesus will give to all who call upon Him as Lord. Only then will your soul find true rest.

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

March 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Jesus – Savior God or Both?

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Ask any Christian, and not to few of non-Christians, if Jesus is a Savior and the answer would be yes. Ask any of these same people if Jesus is “the” Savior and the number of yeses would be far less. Ask all of the same people if Jesus is both Savior and God and the number of they who would say “yes” would be quite few in number.

So, the question is this – “Is Jesus Savior and God?”

To answer this question as simply and succinct as possible we are only going to look at three verses. Two verses actually bookmark a verse that many people know and use in explaining how anyone is saved from facing the wrath of God for their sins.

That verse, of which I speak, is found in Titus 3: 5

not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

The two most important phrases are “His mercy” and “He saved us”. Why are these important? because we need to know about who it is that “His” and “He” is talking. This is where the two bookmark verses come into play.

The first one is verse 4:

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

The important phrase here is “God our Savior”. This verse calls God our Savior, and it talks about His kindness and love toward man. So we can thus read, in putting the two verses together, the following:

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

So we see that God our Savior saved us. It is that simple – God our Savior saved us. With that in mind let us look at the other bookend verse. In verse 6 we read this:

whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

In this verse the important phrase to which we need to read says, “Jesus Christ our Savior,”. Let me say it again, “Jesus Christ our Savior!” In putting these three verses together – Titus 3: 4-6 we read this:

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

These three verses run together so that they are all talking about one person. In knowing that we can shorten these three verses this way:

“The love of God our Savior Jesus saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit whom was poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior and God.”

There is no way around it. In these three verses God is called Savior and that Savior is identified as Jesus, thus making Jesus both God and Savior. So, unless there is more than one God and more than one Savior the only explanation we have here is that God, Himself, is telling us that He is not only God but our Savior as well in the form of Jesus the man. Jesus is both God and Savior. These verses cannot be explained in any other way.

In order for us to be saved we must set aside our own righteousness, of which we have none, and to have faith in the righteousness of Jesus which is given to us when we are born again by the Holy Spirit Who is also God. In short it is by the grace of God poured out upon us because of His love that we are forgiven for our sins and saved from facing the wrath of God.

Jesus is our God and Savior. That is the very basis for the foundation upon which Christianity is built. If Jesus is not your God then He will not also be your Savior. It is that simple and it can become very real to you if you will just confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart we believe unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, who is both God and Savior, will be saved. Will you not do so right now? Nothing can be more reassuring than to know that God is our Savior, that our Savior’s name is Jesus and that makes Jesus our God. Jesus is both God and Savior. That is why salvation is not found in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Will you not call upon Jesus, who is God our Savior, for salvation?

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

February 7, 2016 at 8:44 pm

Knowing God’s Elect

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What is amazing is that the average “Christian” of today does not like to talk about the theology of election as it is a teaching that does not allow man to believe in a doctrine of salvation in which he cannot, and does not, participate. The thing is that there are numerous Scripture verses that mention or talk about this very act of salvation.

However, in the 1st letter to the Thessalonians there is a little read and often overlooked verse that speaks volumes about election. In the 1st chapter and verse 4 the Apostle Paul writes the following:

knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.

And the word for “election” here means “divine selection or being chosen”, but the amazing thing is that Paul follows up this statement with the reason “why” he knows that they have been elected by God for salvation. In verse five we read:

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance,

So, what is so important about this you might ask. Anyone can “preach” the word or the gospel of salvation but it always takes the power of the Holy Spirit to effectually make it work in saving the elect. Again, Paul makes this comparison in the very next chapter in 1 Thessalonians and in verse 13 we read:

13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

It is because of the Word, working in an effective manner in those whom God chooses, do they believe for “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10: 17). The question, then, is this. Who are they who will hear? The answer is quite easy. In the Gospel of John and in Chapter 8 Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and discussing with them about Who He is. I won’t quote the whole of Scripture, especially verses 42 through 47, you can look that up yourself, for the important verse at which we must look is the latter part of verse 46 and then verse 47. For in them we read the following:

46  ….. why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

By these verses we see very clearly that unless one belongs to God they will not “hear” the words of God. In addition in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of John Jesus makes another very clear statement. In talking about being the “Good Shepherd” Jesus says this in verses 14 through 16:

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

His sheep – they who belong to Him – will hear His voice and will respond to Him in an effectual and favorable way of submission to His Lordship, and in the receiving of the forgiveness of sins and salvation from facing the wrath of God. As Jesus says in chapter 6: 37 of the Gospel of John:

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

All who are named in God’s election, the Word of God will work in them in a powerful way in making them alive in the spirit, in giving them a new heart that will grant them the ability to respond to the call of the Good Shepherd, and they will “hear” his voice and will come to Him and follow Him; all because God has chosen to elect they who will be saved. Even though no one deserves to be saved.

Yes, we can know God’s elect. For only in them will we see that the “gospel did not come to them in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance,”. God does elect they who will be saved. If He does not do so… no one would be saved. For man, of his own will, would never choose to be saved.

Are you among God’s elect? Did the Word of God come to you in power with the effectual working of the Holy Spirit? If you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and have believed in your heart that God the Father has raised Him from the dead, and if you have you called upon Jesus as Lord in submission to Him then you can know that you have the assurance of God’s saving grace and that you, too, have been forgiven for your sins and are now in God’s hands for all eternity. That is the assurance of God’s working power in your salvation because you are among the elect of God..

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

January 10, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Born Again By The Word Of God

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As a Biblical Student of Reformation Theology, believing in the doctrine of election, I am often asked how can I believe in being an Evangelical and doing the work of an Evangelist? My response is to say, “It is easy.” …:-)

“Easy?” they will say, “how can it be easy if God has already chosen who will be saved?” At this point I begin to remind them of a few scripture verses.

Remember how Paul first went to Corinth? In a dream God told him in Acts 18:

Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

God told Paul that He had “many people in this city.” and Paul stayed there for more than a year preaching the Word to them. It was through that preaching that God saved those who were “His” people. Only by hearing the Word of God can anyone be born again by the Spirit of God.

In Romans 10: 17 Paul says the following:

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The Word of God is two-fold. First there is the written or spoken Word of God, that His disciples are commanded to share with the world, and second there is Jesus Himself, Who is the Word of God (see John 1:1), it is He Who works through the Holy Spirit to give understanding of the Gospel and opens their heart to receive it and to respond to it. As all who are saved receives a measure of faith, it needs to be applied – first, in order for it to work; so that one can respond with the faith needed in believing the gospel of Jesus.

In Ephesians 2: 8, 9 Paul writes the following:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

This is why Paul can also write in that same chapter, but in verse 1 the following:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

Since we are spiritually dead in our sinful nature, and cannot understand or respond favorably to anything of God, we first need to be made spiritually alive in order to respond as God wants of us. It is because of the Word coming into our hearts and taking out the old one and giving us a new heart, a soft, welcoming and receiving heart that one becomes willing to respond to the Word, to be able to cry out to Jesus for forgiveness for our sins and to be willing to submit to Him as Lord in order for Him to be our Savior.

However, in order for all of this to happen we first need to hear the Word of God so that we can have the faith that is needed to be able to believe and be saved from the wrath of God that is to come in the end times.

Yes, I do believe in the doctrine of election but I also know that God has people, everywhere, whom He intends to save, but it takes for them to hear the Word in order for that to be achieved. As Paul tells it in Romans 10:

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

How about you? Do you want to be forgiven for your sinfulness and be given the gift of salvation? It is as easy as doing what these verses in Romans 10: 8-10 says:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

How much more can this be any easier? Just call upon Jesus and proclaim Him to be Lord. Confess your sinfulness and believe with your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead and you, too, will find out that you have been given the gift of salvation, and that you have been born again into the family of God.

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

December 6, 2015 at 7:38 pm

To Whom Do You Give Thanks?

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When something good happens and you want to give thanks for what it is, who is it to whom you give thanks?

All that we have has not come from our own doing, nor has it come from what ever riches – though little or much – we may have at any given moment in our lives. If, then, what we have that is counted as something for which we give thanks, has not come from our own abilities or wealth, from where has it come? In 1 Timothy 6:17 we read:

“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”

In this verse, the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us that anything that we have that is considered good and is something in which we can enjoy has not come from anything we have done but from God. Even the wealth, no matter what level of wealth it is, also comes from God through what ever means that He chooses. In Deuteronomy 8: 11-14 & 17-18 we read this:

11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God…

17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ 18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…

It is not by your might or power by which you have all that you do. It is by God’s hand that you have what you do for it is from Him that we receive all things to enjoy. And since we receive these gifts from God is it not right to give Him thanks for what we have? In prayers always should we give thanks because it is pleasing to God so to do.

In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 we read:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

So, give thanks with a grateful heart, for all good things come from God and it is to God to Whom we should give thanks. Even if you are not a child of God, that is a disciple of Jesus – one who is called a Christian – you should also give thanks for God brings good on all people. However, if you want to feel the full “love” of God, to understand, know and be given forgiveness for our sins so that we can experience the love of God personally then you must become a child of God. Otherwise, you may receive from God but, without becoming a child of God, you will never know the why of God through His love.

In 1 John 3: 1 we read:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

You may not be a child of God and you still may want to give God thanks, but what good is it to do so without knowing the love of God? As a child of God you can give thanks with love to the one who loves you as being one of His children. One who has believed in His Son Jesus and has submitted to Him not only as Lord but has received Him as Savior; being forgiven for your sins and given welcome access to knowing the love of God. Only then will you be able to know what manner of love God has bestowed upon you.

This then is the answer to the question of “To Whom Do You Give Thanks?” It is to God to whom we should give thanks. To God be the glory…

Written by Glenn Riffey

November 8, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Do Not Say “God Loves You!” – Unless…..

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How many times have you heard a well-meaning Christian – Pastor or not – tell someone “God Loves You!” ? Most likely it is said to someone who is not a disciple of Jesus. Someone who does not love God nor has submitted to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

However, you really should “not” say that to someone “UNLESS”… unless they are a disciple of Jesus. Here is why.

I am sure you have heard it said that God loves everyone and just about all of the time it is based on John 3:16 but, have we all mis-understood that scripture? To find out why John 3:16 is not talking about individuals please read the article at the following link:

Have We All Mis-Understood John 3:16…

In actuality God does love individuals but who are these people whom God loves?

Let me just list a few scripture verses and you should be able to figure out for yourself who it is whom God loves… and why.

John 13: 1

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

John 14: 21

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

John 14: 23

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

John 17: 20 – 23

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

In short, just look at these phrases…

having loved His own who were in the world,

he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him

that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

God loves only they who are disciples of Jesus; who are obedient to Him and love Him. You see, God does “not” love everyone, as you have been told so many times. His love is only for born again believers in Jesus. These verses are very clear in that point and if you still do not believe it is because you do not understand what God is saying in His Word, nor do you want to do so because it is against what you have been made to believe; believing in something that is not in the Bible.

Jesus loved His own who were in the world. Whoever loves Jesus will be loved by the Father and whoever the Father loves Jesus also will love. They who love Jesus and keeps His word will be loved by the Father. The thing is the world is supposed to know that the Father has sent Jesus and that only they who believe in Him is loved by the Father as the Father loves Jesus and Jesus, too, will love them… and only them. For they are His own who are in the world.

Are you loved by God? Do you believe in Jesus and are obedient to Him? Do you love and cherish the salvation that God has so graciously given to you? Then, do not say to any and everyone that God loves you. If they are “NOT” disciples of Jesus you are only deceiving them and are actually lying to them. Instead, tell them that they can “know” the love of God and feel the kind of sweet love that only Jesus can give, and then tell them how they, too, can receive this love of God by submitting to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

So, do not say that “God loves you” – unless … unless you know for sure that the one to whom you are talking is a true disciples of Jesus and are a child of God. You see, God does love, but He only loves they who love Jesus. We know He does because, in His Word, He has told us so…

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

October 11, 2015 at 6:21 pm

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