The Pursuit of God

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Your End Times Faith Crisis: Staying Aligned with a Scary God

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Because our Gods are so nice, They have a long history of giving people a heads up before They turn their worlds upside down with trauma.  We can see Them doing this many times in the Bible.  Yahweh warned Noah well in advance about the flood.  He warned the Egyptians and the Jews about the ten plagues.  He warned the Jews about the fall of Israel and Judah.  He warned many other nations, cities, and empires about their coming destruction.  In the New Testament, Jesus warned His followers about His upcoming death and resurrection many times, and He also warned them of the great persecution they would experience after He was gone.  Sometimes our Gods say that impending doom can be avoided if we get our act together.  Yahweh told Israel over and over again that she could avoid total destruction if she would repent and return to Him.  But where we see our Gods graciously giving humans advanced warnings of bad things, we also find most humans blowing off Their warnings and refusing to benefit by them.

We can’t help people who don’t want to be helped.  We can’t help you if you want to close your mind to what we’re telling you about the end times.  God isn’t going to change His plans because no one is bothering to listen to His warnings, and unlike the destruction of Israel, the end times aren’t a disaster we can avert if we all get down on our knees and pray.  Pleading for God not to rip this place apart is an utter waste of time.  He’s going to thrash the world, and He’s going to start that thrashing very soon.  The only option you’re being given is the option of doing some theological prep with the Holy Spirit ahead of time.  If you take advantage of this opportunity and ask God to help you learn everything He wants to teach you, then you can go into the end times with the tools you need to spiritually thrive. 

Now as we often say in our end times material, the Church is preparing you all wrong for this period.  Her description of what will happen is wrong, and the physical preparations she urges you to make are a total waste of time.  Stockpiling dried foods and ammo will do absolutely nothing to help you in the end times.  You’re not going to be warring against other humans, you’re going to be caught in the middle of God unleashing wave after wave of epic destruction.  The destruction will be localized, but devastating, and as more targets are hit, the devastation will become more widespread.  The targets God chooses to hit will keep changing and His movements will be impossible to predict.  When your country is the one being nailed, obviously you will be adversely affected.  How affected depends on what target God strikes, how hard He strikes, and how much recovery He allows.  It isn’t human terrorists we’re going to be dealing with during this period.  The kinds of destructive miracles God will perform will be far beyond human capability.  There is no shield you can build that can protect you from the power of God.  This is why properly preparing for this period requires a focus on theology, not on earthly circumstances.  It is your beliefs about God and your soul’s attitude towards Him which will be epically challenged during this period, because you are not at all used to dealing with this side of Him.

The Church has done you an enormous disservice by downplaying the reality of God’s wrath and teaching you to deny His involvement with evil.  The more entrenched you are in mainstream Christian theology, the more traumatized you’re going to be by God’s actions during this time.  In short, the end times are going to pitch you into a major theological crisis.  Even the most mature Christians are going to find themselves extremely distressed during this time, but this does not have to be the way we remain.  By understanding the mechanics of your distress, and understanding a few basic facts about what motivates the critical soul attitudes of trust and submission, you can learn how to respond to your distress in a way that will keep you in alignment with God and move you through the fear as quickly as possible.  This is the goal of this post: to arm you with the understanding you need to make wise spiritual choices when the chaos begins.

LOSING TRUST

Let’s start by understanding what it is that makes a confident, happy, Jesus loving Christian melt into a puddle of fearful doubt and anxiety.  Consider this: when’s the last time you heard a Christian talk about having a crisis of reverence or a crisis of dependency?  Isn’t it true that the phrase faith crisis is far more common among us?  Why is this?  Because faith is a form of trust, and your trust in God is going to be the first thing to crumble when the end times begin.  Don’t want to believe it?  Of course you don’t, because we all want to think our faith is a whole lot more solid than it is.  Well, remember, God is interested in helping you, not tearing you down.  And it is God who will tell you that the trust of most Christians is going to crumble like a wet taco when this nightmare starts.  To understand why this is, you need to ask yourself a question that you’re not used to asking: what exactly is it that my trust is rooted in?  Don’t just say “God”—that answer is far too vague and broad.  Your trust really isn’t rooted in “God,” it is actually rooted in a very specific aspect of God: His goodness.

The Character of God is one of those essential truths upon which the entire Christian faith is built.  We don’t just believe that God is real, we believe that the real God is good in Character, and this has enormous implications for how we behave.  Because, you see, if you lose your confidence in the goodness of God, then suddenly you have no basis on which you can claim that God is with you, that He is for you, or that He is working out some good plan in your life.  In fact, you can’t claim that anything God does is good.  For all you know, He’s just a monstrous sadist who gets off on trashing people.

Now the topic of the end times has been abused for centuries by the Church.  When she fills your mind with horror stories about how awful it’s going to be, she’s just trying to get you to buy useless products, revere demons, and get completely sidetracked in your walk with God.  But when God discusses terrible things that are coming in your future, His motivation is to strengthen your relationship with Him by helping you understand the weak points in your own theology.  You see, most Christians are like the wife who secretly suspects that her husband is being unfaithful.  This thought upsets her so much that she totally suppresses it. On a conscious level, she tells herself and everyone else that there’s no doubt in her mind that her husband would never cheat on her.  Yet the woman is just lying to herself, because the truth is that way down deep, she does have doubts.  Serious doubts.  And so do you.

As a Christian, you have quite the unresolvable crisis on your hands.  With your ears, you hear yourself singing, praying, and saying that God is good, loving, and always in control.  But then you look around in this world which you say God is so in control of, and you see all of these horrific things happening.  Were you to really accept that God is choosing, causing, and wanting these things to occur, then your claim that God is good would suddenly sound very false.  Your logical mind as well as something in the very core of your being utterly rejects the idea that a truly good God would want some of what goes on down here.  You just can’t accept that a God with infinite options would choose some of the horrors around you.  And because you cannot remain confident in God’s love for you personally unless you can retain confidence in His goodness, you come up with all of these ways to explain why God has nothing to do with evil.  Some of you say that God doesn’t really have infinite choices, but that He got forced into enduring a world that is this messed up by choosing other things—like giving humans the option to sin.  Others of you say that God has temporarily handed the world over to Satan, and it’s really demons who are causing all of the terrible things that go on here.  When you talk like this, you’re being like the woman who pretends that she doesn’t see the lipstick on her husband’s collar or smell the scent of another woman’s perfume on his coat.  And because denial is such an effective defensive strategy for humans, you are able to retain confidence in God’s goodness even while you are surrounded by evidence that challenges your belief.

Now in case you think we’re picking on you, we’re not.  This denial game is very common for Christians.  The truth is that it’s far more comfortable to simply ignore aspects of God that we don’t like rather than to face them, because if we face them, it is guaranteed that we will end up with faith shaking questions which we are unable to resolve without God’s help.  And should it turn out that God is not good, and we get ourselves into a situation where only He can help us regain confidence in His goodness, how can we know that He will help us?  We can’t.  If God’s goodness is in question, then everything we cling to as Christians becomes questioned, even our hope of going to Heaven when we die.  God’s goodness is critical.  It is the foundation on which you build all of your hope, peace, and joy.  Many Christians don’t consciously understand this, yet it is true all the same: everything comes back to the goodness of God.  And since God is such a vast, wild, and mysterious Guy who does things that utterly disturb and terrify us, keeping a strong grip on His goodness is no easy task.  For Christians, simply denying God’s involvement with evil is the obvious and only real solution to avoiding an epic faith crisis.  As long as we can find some way to keep God and evil totally separated from each other, there is peace in our minds, and a strong foundation of trust upon which we can build many other things.  But now we’re going to explain to you why your current strategy for maintaining confidence in God’s goodness won’t work during the end times.

THE END TIMES CRISIS

Picture this: you’re rocking out at a Christian worship concert.  Everything’s going fine, you’re having a grand time praising God, when suddenly one of your uplifted hands bumps into something hard.  You open your eyes, ready to apologize for accidentally swatting your neighbor, when much to your horror, your brother in the Lord who had been rocking out with you just seconds before has morphed into a plaster mannequin.  The guy looks just like he used to look, and he’s the same size as he was before, only now he’s plaster.  Suddenly the whole stadium is filling with screams and as you look around, you see plaster people everywhere.  One by one, the statues topple over and smash into pieces on the ground.  What on earth is going on?  God is turning people into plaster, much like He once turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt in Genesis 19:26.  Well, now you’ve suddenly got a real crisis on your hands.  Not only are you in this totally freaky situation of seeing real people turned into plaster, but you are now faced with a very difficult theological dilemma. You see, this isn’t a storm that you can blame on Mother Nature.  This event doesn’t qualify as any kind of “natural phenomena.”  This is clearly a miracle that has been performed by a supernatural being, and if that supernatural being is your good God, then how is that going to line up with your theory that “God is good”?  Since when does a good God start killing off folks who were praising Him?  Your theology is totally unprepared to accept this as an act of God, and that means you must find someone else to blame it on.  Satan is your usual go-to guy in these situations, and it would solve a lot of problems for you to say that Satan was maliciously zapping Christians because he was so angry about them praising God.  But what if you can’t say this because God forces you to face the fact that He is the One who performed the miracle?

This is going to be the crisis you find yourself in during the end times: God is going to start doing some really horrific things which are going to result in suffering and anguish like you’ve never seen before.  He is going to do violent, graphic, and downright terrifying things, and He is going to take total responsibility for doing these things in a highly public way.  All of this is going to be thrust in your face over and over again, and there’s simply going to be far too much of it for you to sweep under your usual rugs of denial.  This means that you’re going to have to suddenly face the fact that your good God is intentionally doing things which you view as utterly cruel and absolutely unjustifiable.  Well, you’re just not theologically prepared for this.  If you combine God with evil, your confidence in His goodness will get instantly blown apart, and then what?  The world is in a crisis, you need God more than ever, yet suddenly you find yourself totally losing your grip on His goodness, which is the only basis on which you can build any hope.  See the problem?  But just hold on, because with God, every problem has solutions.

Now before we talk about solutions, we need to address the small minority of you who have done a lot of maturing on the topic of God’s sovereignty.  Those of you who have been leaning into God’s lessons about His involvement with evil are going to go into the end times with a much stronger grip on God’s goodness.  But our warning for you is this: don’t overestimate your strength in this area.  This period is going to be so traumatic that everyone is going to find themselves immensely challenged, even mature believers who have already been working on the tough issues with God.  We don’t say this to discourage you, but to help you set realistic expectations.  Expecting to sail through this period without any meltdowns is utterly unreasonable.  Once God brings His horrors close enough to your personal world, you are going to find yourself very distraught.  Yet the critical lesson we want you to learn in this post is that no matter how hard your confidence in God gets blasted, you can recover.  In fact, such blasting is exactly what will result in you leaping farther ahead in your own growth than you ever thought possible.

This is the big prize that all serious believers need to focus on during the end times: making enormous gains in their personal walks with God.  And it is precisely because this period is going to be so theologically difficult to digest that great gains will be possible.  You see, normally God spreads the tough lessons out for you over many decades.  But once the end times begin, you’re going to get blasted with fundamental questions that must be resolved with great urgency if you’re going to keep putting one foot in front of another.  This is why we say it is such a thrilling opportunity for you to be alive on the planet during this period.  God has placed you in a unique period of history, and the opportunities for growth are going to be epic. So we don’t want to be dismayed by the size of the mountain, but we also want to recognize that we’re going to be climbing up Mt. Everest, not some bump in the backyard, thus we need to prepare accordingly.  You see, if you go into this period not understanding how intensely your theology is going to get challenged, you’re going to waste time panicking when you could immediately turn to soul attitudes that are going to really accelerate your own growth.  So now let’s talk about what those soul attitudes are.

TRUST vs. SUBMISSION

In our material, we frequently say that there are four soul attitudes which are critical to you developing an intimate bond with your Creators, and those four are reverence, submission, dependency and trust.  We’ve already discussed how fundamental trust is, but we’ve also talked about how easy it is for your trust to be shaken by the shocking things that God is going to be doing during this period.  Because your trust is rooted in God’s goodness, and because His actions will cause you to doubt His goodness, your trust will crumble, and this will result in a major faith crisis and you will feel as if your whole relationship with God is falling apart.  So how do you salvage a relationship that you feel was based on trust?  Well, when one foundation fails, you need to start digging deeper until you come to another, stronger foundation that you can anchor to.  That second foundation is going to be submission.

Here is the fascinating thing about trust and submission: both are fundamental to your relationship with God, yet they are built on entirely different things.  While trust is built on confidence that God is good in Character, submission is driven by a fear of God’s awesome power.  The fact that trust and submission are driven by two such different factors is going to be your saving grace during the end times.  Now let’s learn why.

Think about this: how did you come to the conclusion that God is good?  You can’t just look around at the world and come to this conclusion, because this world is filled with both good and evil.  There is laughter and crying, joy and heartbreak.  Before you can arrive at the conclusion that God is good, you need to gain more insights about God which go beyond your personal experience of Him.  You need God’s help to interpret His actions as good, because at face value, many of His actions seem quite malicious. Now the fact that trust requires a lot of third party input to form is what makes it so rickety, because most of you are not getting your input from God.  The Church wants you dependent on her, not God, so she discourages you from seeking Him directly.  Instead, she tells you to depend on a Bible which she interprets for you.  By the time you’re done reading the Bible through the Church’s very biased filter, you come up with some very cheery conclusions that are simply not based in fact.  For example, you say that Jesus Christ was all sweetness and grace in the Gospels, when the truth is that He was actually quite hostile and provocative.  You say that God never lies or breaks His promises, when the Bible contains much evidence to the contrary.  If you were relying on God to be your Instructor, the Bible could actually be quite useful to you, but since you rely on the Church, you miss most of what the Bible has to offer and instead you learn lessons that it doesn’t even teach.  Well, once you build your trust on a platform of lies, is it any wonder that it’s so fragile and easy to topple?

From the human perspective, God is going to appear to suddenly morph into an aggressive, wrathful Monster during the end times.  He isn’t really a monster, but this will be the only interpretation your warped theology will allow you to form, because it is built on so many lies about who God is and how He operates.  Now be clear on this: any weaknesses that exist in your theology today can certainly be shored up if you stop letting the Church, Bibles, and other people be stand ins for God in your life.  The sooner you cut out the middleman and start going direct by asking God for His feedback on any teaching you are presented with, the sooner He will start working with you to knock out some of the rotted boards in your theological base.  But with the end times so near, you’re going to blasted before you have a chance to gain a firm footing in truth, and that means you need a quick way to recover.  Here’s where we talk about the fabulous soul attitude of submission.

Submission is absolutely vital to your relationship with God.  Without sufficient submission, you won’t even have a relationship with God, for it is through submission that we acquire salvation and it is through ongoing submission after salvation that we acquire the insights we need to mature.  What exactly is submission?  It is a soul attitude that says to Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit: “I yield to the three of You as the Supreme Authorities over all things, and as the Supreme Authorities in my life. I recognize that You infinitely outrank and out power me, therefore Your opinion is infinitely more important than my own.  Because of this, I ask You to have Your way in my life.  Pleasing You is more important than pleasing myself.”  Submission is glorious.  Submission is the difference between Heaven and Hell, thriving and languishing.  But then we come to the best part of all: the fact that submission is driven by reverence.

Reverence is a deep respect for God which is motivated by a fear of His awesome power.  Why don’t you want to swim in a shark tank?  Because you fear the power of the sharks.  Why don’t you grab hold of an electric fence or run into a wall of flames?  Because you fear the great power that these things have to inflict horrible anguish on you. The soul attitude of  reverential submission is when we say to God, “The scope of Your awesome power overwhelms and terrifies me.  I’ve decided that it is way too dangerous to provoke You, so I am going to do what You say.”

God is the Creator of erupting volcanoes, exploding stars, scorching suns, and freezing mountain peaks.  God has essentially designed this world to be a human killing machine.  There are so many environments that you simply cannot survive in just as you are, and many places where you cannot go.  He created you to be a weak, delicate little thing, and then He filled the world with an endless array of non-human beings who have the power to kill you.  One bite from a spider that’s not even as large as your hand, and you’re a goner.  If a simple pine cone of sufficient size beans you on the head hard enough, you’ll die.  Landslides, rockslides, mudslides, and avalanches.  Poisonous plants that look just like edible ones, microscopic viruses and bacteria—this place is filled with peril and there’s no way you can survive a single day in it without God constantly protecting you from the lethal dangers that He has created.

How do you not fear a Being who is so massive that He can spin off whole galaxies with a single thought?  How do you not fear the One who can instantly cause your heart to stop beating or remove all oxygen from the air around you?  Evidence of God’s terrifying power is all around us, and even the atheists will scream “God, save me!” when death is barreling towards them because inside we all know Who is controlling all of this.  But despite the fact that God is constantly reminding us of how great His power is by the feats He pulls off every day, we Christians are shockingly short on reverence.  It all goes back to those denial games we’re playing in order to protect our trust.  When God flicks a tree over just in time to crush a child who is walking down the street, or when He whips up some hurricane to ravage our coastlines, we refuse to see Him at work.  We blame demons, we say it was all just a “natural phenomenon” or we take the evolutionist’s way out and say it was just a bad coincidence.

In our post God’s End Time Prophet: Forcing The World To Ask Who, we discuss how God will work through a Moses-like prophet in the end times in order to force us all to recognize that a purposeful Being with awesome power is at work behind the terrible things that He does.  And because God will be unleashing such epic, law-defying miracles during this period, your personal fear of His power is going to skyrocket.  This is going to be fabulous for your spiritual health, because reverence drives submission, and submission is the glue that will keep you close to God when your trust in His goodness is temporarily shattered.

As we’ve already discussed, once you doubt God’s goodness, you can’t possibly avoid doubting His love for you, His care of you, and His willingness to guide and help you.  Once all of these things get thrown into question, you will be forced to ask yourself: “Just why am I following God?”  Are you just in this for the goodies and the future perks?  Is that all Christianity means to you?  The end times are going to be a time of major sifting for the Church.  We’ve always been taught to believe that it will be the pressure of external persecution which will divide us.  But no, the pressure to cut and run will come from within: from God Himself challenging you about why you are claiming to be one of His followers.  Are you just in it for the perks?  What if there are no perks?  Then what?  What if it turns out that God really is some shady Character who you can’t count on for anything?  What does this change?  What doesn’t this change?  He’s still the One who created you.  Are you going to start lipping off to the One who can rip your molecules apart simply because you don’t personally approve of the way He operates?

Submission is the bedrock of your whole relationship with God.  And if you really think about it, submitting to God is the only wise choice in any situation.  If God is good, then we can add all kinds of happy assurances to your beliefs.  But if God is not good, He is still God, and that fact alone makes refusing to submit to Him beyond foolish.  It is now, while things are still relatively calm, that you need to give serious thought to this submission issue.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the wise answer to this question: “What should my motivation for submitting to God be?”

Here is a great snare that many Christians have become caught in: they think that their submission to God is supposed to be approval driven.  Such Christians are only obeying Jesus because they think He love, love, loves them.  They think He’s a sweet, gracious Guy who will mostly do what they want Him to do.  This is not submission, it is approval.  And while approving of God certainly makes us feel good, it will not get us saved, nor will it lead us down the road of maturity.  It is our submission to God which drives us forward, and submission only becomes possible when there is a clash of wills.  You see, if you love chocolate ice cream and your friend offers to buy you a bowl of the stuff, you’re not submitting to her when you agree.  You’re just going along with a program which you totally approve of.  As far as you’re concerned, your friend is aligning with your agenda, she just spoke before you did.

There must be disagreement before we can submit, because submission essentially says, “I don’t approve of what You’re doing, but I’m going to yield to Your Authority because You outrank me.”  Obeying God simply means doing what He said.  When obeying God is easy and fun, it’s because He’s asking us to do something that we want to do anyway, thus there is no submission required.  Now there’s nothing wrong with having an easy time of things, but if we are never submitting, then we are never accepting our place as God’s subordinates.  You see, it’s only when there is a strong disagreement of wills that the importance of rank is recognized.  As long as God is doing everything you want, you never bother to give much thought to His supremacy over you. This is a major problem, because God refuses to relate to you as your buddy, friend, or partner.  He insists on being viewed as the Supreme Authority in your life, and He won’t invite you close to Him until you submit to His total domination.  God intentionally provokes you to feel angry and upset with Him in life in order to give you the opportunity to submit.  You see, while we get all huffy about God not doing what we want, we’re missing what a priceless gift this really is.  We need God to royally irk us at times if we’re going to ever develop deep submission to Him, for the stronger our disapproval of God is, the deeper our submission must be before we will align with His will in a situation.

Suppose your friend says, “I’m in a tough spot.  Would you give me $10?  I won’t be able to pay you back.”  If you like your friend, you might agree.  You don’t want to just give away your money, and you don’t like how she’s refusing to pay you back, but you let her have her way because of the history between you.  But then suppose she was to say to you, “Thanks for the $10.  Now how about you give me another $1,000?”  Well, this is a different deal.  You really disagree with surrendering this much of your hard earned money to her, so you tell her no.  With your friend, you have boundaries about how far you’re willing to submit, and it isn’t very far.  In human friendships, this is the right way to operate, but it’s not the right way to operate with God. God commands you to submit to Him no matter how obnoxious and repulsive you feel His orders are.  He says that the very fact that He is so superior to you in all areas—especially in power—is the reason why you must always submit to Him.  Well, we don’t like this system very much, do we?

And then we come to the end times.  In this period we will see the violent destruction and mangling of both property and humans.  When you’re reading about a city on the other side of the world getting pounded, that’s upsetting.  When the next city is in your own country, that’s more upsetting.  When the next strike happens in your own hometown and the people you love are among those graphically injured, well, that’s when your submission to God is going to really start feeling strained. You see, the closer God moves His destruction to the targets you personally care about, the greater the opportunity He is giving you to deepen your submission to Him.  This is why the end times are going to be so fraught with opportunities for growth: because your personal commitment to those four essential soul attitudes that we’re always talking about is going to be challenged like never before.  And while this sounds intimidating, it’s also thrilling, because God is good and He does want you to succeed with Him.  He’s not setting you up to fail with all of this, He’s setting you up to thrive, and that’s how you need to look at it.  In our post Preparing for the End Times: Releasing Our Loved Ones, we talk about how you can start working on deepening your submission to God now so that you will be that much more prepared when the end times start.  You need to go into this period focused on you and God and decide that you are going to make pursuing a deeper bond with Him your top priority.

Now we’ve talked about how your trust is going to get pummeled in this period.  And once trust goes down, we are forced to face the ugly truth that most of us have grown very slack in the submission department.  We’ve fallen into a pattern of serving a good God solely because we approve of who He is and we like all of the perks He can give us. In other words, we’ve totally lost sight of the fact that God is GOD and not just some nice Guy who we can manipulate into giving us lots of goodies.  Well, here again, God is giving us the tools we need to get back on track with Him by intentionally scaring us out of our wits with all of His theatrical stunts.

The end times are going to be terrifying.  We could downplay this, but that’s not going to help you.  We will find God’s behavior during this period utterly frightening, but the way we can counter this fear is to realize the fabulous gift He’s given us.  You see, by flaunting His awesome power in our faces with all of His terrifying stunts, God is going to pitch us into reverence.  Reverence is what is going to make us afraid to defy Him even when we’re in doubt about His goodness.  Reverence will drive us to submission, and that submission will keep us in alignment with God through the storm of our faith crises.  God will then resolve our doubts for us, and we’ll end up coming through the trial period having made fabulous progress in three areas instead of just one.  Our trust, reverence, and submission will all be greater.  Then God will do some other epic stunt which will shock us again, and we’ll have to go through the whole growth cycle again, only to come out even stronger than before.

If you go into this period asking God to have His total way with you, do you realize how fast you can grow?  The intensity of this period has the potential to benefit you in fabulous ways.  It’s the difference between getting to know a fellow on the battlefield or  hanging out with him at the gym.  The traumatic setting of a battlefield has a way of making humans skip the usual falderal and form rapid bonds with each other—bonds which often end up lasting far beyond the battle period simply because they were forged in such an intense environment when everyone was being tested to the limit.  In the same way, the end times are going to bring you the unique opportunity to rapidly deepen your own bond with God.  He’ll be flooding your life with the resources you need to practice those essential attitudes, and if you are wise, you’ll throw yourself entirely into His hands and depend on Him to help you get the most you can out of each experience.

FURTHER READING:
Preparing for the End Times: Understanding God’s Motivations
Preparing for the End Times: Symbols of Security
End Time Preparation: God’s Creative Creatures
Preparing for the End Times: Interacting with God’s Prophet

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