Abba Father



The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  Romans 8:15

We often think of this as a word picture of God.  But we rarely think that God would be an Abba Father for us because we don’t deserve it. We think He will only be that for good people. We’re too normal, and nothing special.  But that’s not biblical – your Abba Father has blessed you with all spiritual gifts and an eternal inheritance.

Your name is written in the Book of Life.  You are Christ’s friend and a new creation.  He has laid claim to you and won’t let you go.  You are heirs of God and a joint-heir of Christ.

You are the fragrance of Christ and being transformed into his image as an adopted son and daughter.  No one will be able to separate you from Him. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. You are not just “normal”.  You are special in God’s eyes.

You used to be average…ho hum.  But now you are God’s child, Christ’s friend and complete in Christ and lacking in nothing and seated with Christ in the heavenly family.  You’ve been bought with a price.  God has a high affection for you.

We need to not just remember our inheritance but to live like it. In his book entitled The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel writes in a letter to the reader at the beginning: “Christian Atheists are everywhere. They attend Catholic churches, Baptist churches, Pentecostal churches, nondenominational churches, and even in churches where the pastor says “GAW-duh” when he’s preaching.”

His point is that Christian Atheists look like Christians, but their life style doesn’t match their beliefs. They believe in Him, but don’t really know Him. One litmus test Groeschel suggests is how you refer to God may give a clue as to how well you know Him.

I’ve been married for over 50 years. My wife knows me. She knows my thoughts, my interests, my weaknesses, my strengths.  She probably knows them better than I do.  I, in turn, know her just as well. I know what makes her tick, and what makes her crazy and what makes her laugh That’s a relationship – one based on knowing each other to the extent we know what the other are thinking.

What Groeschel suggests is how well do you know God?  Do you know him like I know my wife and she knows me?  Or, do you think of Him as some distant entity that is not involved in your day-to-day life or your decisions?  Do you know Him well enough to have a continuing conversation with Him all day long. Do you feel His love for you?

Well, I do.  I had an accident last week on my bicycle where a woman ran me down at 35 miles per hour. My body did $1,000 worth of damage to her car.  I walked away with just a couple of scratches.  I spent 5 hours in the ER where the doctor was convinced that something had to be wrong with me, and he was determined to find it.

That accident was a visible demonstration of God’s love and protection for me. I didn’t deserve it. That’s called grace. When I call him Abba Father, I do so knowing that He loves me and protected me in a supernatural way. It’s like He put me in a cocoon when I was hit by the car.

The next generation is in desperate need of people who will live out their role as sons and daughters of the living God.  When you cry out Abba Father, your heavenly Father hears you and He sends the Holy Spirit.  It is time for us, as God’s church and God’s bride, to ask for help.

Let His kingdom come, as it is on earth and in heaven.  Not because we are worthy, but because He is our Father. He wants us to demonstrate His relationship with us to others who might be skeptical. It’s all right to be skeptical, but at the end of the day, every believer should live a life that shows that they know that God loves them.

Eric Metaxas wrote an award-winning book on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I was struck by one incident In Bonhoeffer’s life which transformed him while he lived in New York City for 6 months.

He frequented the Abyssinian Church in Harlem and was struck by their joyous music. Harlem was described as a “downtrodden African American community.” He heard “the Gospel preached and its power manifested.”  The Abyssinian Church had close to 14,000 members by the mid-1930’s.  Bonhoeffer was staggered.

For the first time in his life, he “saw the gospel preached and lived out in accordance with God’s commands.” He encountered believers who lived as though God is real in their lives. He had never seen that before. It transformed him and his theology.  God is real, but we often don’t act like it.

It was the experience of listening to “negro spirituals” that convinced Bonhoeffer the importance of music to worship. When he returned to Germany, he brought back recordings of the gospel music. which became his most treasured possessions.

He played them to his students in Berlin and later elsewhere. “For many of his students, they were as exotic as moon rocks.”

That’s our challenge:  living a life that reflects our beliefs. Living a life that shows we know God, and that we feel His presence in our daily lives.  Living like God is real, not just somebody who is present in a church on a Sunday morning. We also need to  worship Him as a real God, an Abba Father.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  As a mentor, reflect on your life. Does it reflect that you know God, or know about God?  The next generation is looking for authentic relationships.  They can tell if yours is real or not.

WORSHIP: Listen to the lyrics of Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father : “You are Perfect in all of your ways.”

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 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?   Ecclesiastes 1:3

I’ve been writing these posts for a year now.  For some reason, I set a personal goal of doing two of them a week – one on Tuesday, and another on Friday.  I am still learning how to improve them even though I’ve done almost 100 of them.   Some readers want them shorter; others have suggested that I do only one a week.

As to the length, I’m trying to shorten them, although it is a struggle to fully cover a topic in fewer words. I really don’t intend them to be a daily devotional which need to be short and pithy, but I am editing the content by making them shorter where possible.

My eldest son, who is a writer by occupation, suggested that I make my paragraphs much shorter since many would be reading it on an iPhone or iPad. As he said, people get lost in long paragraphs.  Good to know.

Over time, I added some things that individualized them and made the posts more my personality, such as adding a picture at the beginning which graphically was tied to the content of the post.  Later, I added a song that was also added at the end which had, in my opinion, some connection to the topic.  The songs reflect my love of worship music.

Some posts require extensive research, so I added references under “Further Study” so readers could go deeper if they desired.  The most recent addition was something that I called “Mentor Takeaway” which was a concise aspirational statement to any mentor of how he or she might apply my theme with a mentee.

Feedback has been rare, except for a few who often don’t write comments but tell me that they enjoyed my posts.  One friend, Ralph Ennis, with whom I’ve met for close to 25 years on a regular basis, always comments on the pictures because his ministry is directed to the next generation who relate more to pictures than to words.

One of my readers, Catherine Miller, has been reading my blog for a while. She told me that these posts would make a great book to give to my grandchildren.

My grandkids call me “Landaddy” which is a compression of “Liz’s daddy” and “granddaddy” (my daughter’s name is Liz).  My eldest grandchild coined it years ago and it stuck. I’ve toyed with the book idea, and think I will pursue it.

It will be called “The Best of Landaddy” and will be a volume of my posts which will give my grandkids and their children a peek into the thoughts and mind of their grandfather. I never had that chance with my own grandfather who was a great writer. We threw away his letters years ago. I wish I had kept them.

So, getting back to the title of this post, I am going to change things up for the near term and go to a schedule of one post a week.  Hopefully, it will meet all your expectations – shorter in length with short paragraphs and pithy.

My wife and I have a full travel schedule coming up. I go to Togo in May for a ministry meeting, and I am taking John Mark with me.  Yes, that’s not a misprint.  I’ve been mentoring a young man here whose name is John Mark Hopson, and invited him to go with me. He jumped at the chance, without knowing what we would be doing. Unbeknownst to me, his uncle had been a missionary to Togo.

In July, we will be traveling to Europe with my son and his three children, and we’ll be taking a fourth grandchild (Sarah) with us on a 6-country trip.  My wife has lovingly said that it is to be a vacation with no distractions (i.e. no new posts for the month of July).

Instead, I plan to rewrite some of my early posts which newer readers may not have seen.  Some of them are long time favorites of mine – posts like “Eleven Inches” or “1,000 Marbles”. Others were original to me and I think the topic is relevant enough to be repeated.

Thank you to all who have joined me on this journey, many of you silently. As long as I know someone is benefitting from my blog, I will continue it because I know that someone gains something from my writing.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “God of the City” where the lyrics say that “Greater things are yet to be done and greater things are yet to come ….in this City”:

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This is a term that has garnered a lot of use lately.  The term relativism is a world view that has a premise, at its foundation, that there is no absolute truth.  It assumes that a truth, knowledge or morality exists in relation to culture or historical context.

“Relativism, roughly put, is the view that truth and falsity, right and wrong, standards of reasoning, and procedures of justification are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment and that their authority is confined to the context giving rise to them.” This quote comes from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Put another way, if it feels good, it must be OK.  Unfortunately, that belief can lead one into some pretty dark places.

One of the attributes of the millennials – our next generation – is their view of relativism.  I have described it as an Asian outlook on life. Asians don’t often look at decisions from a value base, but look at them from a relative basis.  A decision is determined by some secondary issue such as who might be adversely affected or impacted negatively. In the Asian culture, it is called “save face”.  The decision is not based on any moral truth, which is secondary.

Given a choice between telling the truth or helping another “save face” or embarrassment, the Asian values will often fudge on truth in order not to embarrass another co-worker or someone superior to them.

As a result, their decisions often don’t reflect truth as a basic core value. If a decision will cause harm to someone – in their culture, they call this loss of face – then they will act accordingly, even if the result is dishonest.

I saw this first hand when I represented Japanese clients.  Decisions were made which made no sense to me. My Japanese clients had made investments in U.S. real estate that had turned sour, but instead of admitting it was a mistake, they would pour more money into it and keep them on life support so that no one would have to admit it was a mistake.

The reason for the decision was not obvious to me initially.  Then I realized that the original decision to make the investment was made by some manager higher in the company, and any admission that it was a bad decision would cause him to lose face. Ergo, they ignored exiting the investment, and instead kept it going to postpone what should have been an obvious solution.

The next generation, many of whom have not grown up with any Christian involvement or in a Christian environment, often make decisions or choices in the Asian way.  Since they don’t have any moral absolutes, choices about sexuality, religion or what is right and wrong is something they must figure out by themselves.

I have tried to come up with an example of how difficult this is. One analogy that I came up with was a sports analogy:  what it would look like if you played a sport without any rules. In this analogy, rules are the same as truths.  Take soccer, for example.  There would be nothing stopping you from eliminating any out-of-bounds.

Body contact with an opposing player might be justified if it helped you to gain an advantage without penalty.  Tackling the goal keeper so you could score a goal would be acceptable because you believe that winning is the most important thing so anything you do to win is acceptable.

Or, if you were unhappy with the size of the opponent’s goal, you would enlarge their goal to make it easier for you to score. Or, if you don’t think you can win with the normal 11 players, you could have 13 players if that gives you an advantage. I think you get the idea.  It could or would be chaotic.

But that’s the slippery slope that the next generation is walking on.  They really need guidance in this area. I am dismayed at the lack of the influence of the father on the next generation.  He is either absent physically, or in many cases mentally. In the latter case, they are “too busy” to be involved in their child’s life, preferring to let the schools or others do their job.

As I reflect over the past 50 years, I can see the effect of relativism which has replaced Christian morality and truth over time.  Look at our social conventions.  Marriage in the biblical context was intended to be forever.

Now, the relative view is that if your marriage is not working, it’s OK to abandon it and get a divorce. No matter that the divorce may adversely impact your children.

The important thing is that your personal life is better so if you are unhappy, divorce becomes a solution to your problem. Lest you think this is just for non-believers, the Christian divorce rate is almost identical to divorces for secular people.

Someone close to me several years ago was heading down the road to a divorce. She rationalized it (again a matter of relativism).  She said she knew that divorce was limited biblically, but she said, “those rules are for other people, not me.”

Floyd Green, a close friend of mine used to say: “If it comes to changing your lifestyle, or changing your biblical values, most people opt for the latter because “those rules didn’t take into account my personal situation.” Again, it’s all relative.

Sexuality went down this road, starting in the 1960’s.  It became OK to have sex outside of marriage because it didn’t seem to harm anyone and was fun. Which led to abortion. If you should happen to get pregnant, the solution was to get an abortion to eliminate that “inconvenience.”

No matter that it was a baby’s life that got sacrificed.  Your ability to make a “choice” for your body trumped the baby’s life. If you think about it, the slogan “Pro Choice” says it all.

As parents and mentors, our role is not done unless we have equipped and educated the next generation about the importance of the biblical view in their life.  Our challenge is that the culture has now taken hold so thoroughly that it is an uphill climb.

We must articulate that God’s way of life is the best course for our mentees. The church can help, too.  Our church is now doing a series entitled “Love, Sex and Marriage.”  I suspect that a series like this some 50 years ago would have been considered unnecessary.  Not anymore.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  The next generation has grown up in cultures that has sold them lies based on relativism. You need to probe their worldviews on a number of topics to be sure they have firm grounding. Many of their values may have been influenced by a culture steeped in relativism.

FURTHER STUDY:  Relativism:

WORSHIP: Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “We Fall Down

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The Veil



At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. Matthew 27:51,52    

This is Passion week. The time between Palm Sunday and Easter. All around the world, Christians are remembering the events from two thousand years ago. One of the things that struck me this year as I listened to the Passion story was the above passage. We often skip over it in the total context of Jesus trials, crucifixion and his resurrection.

I have often thought about the veil being torn form the top to the bottom at the moment of Jesus death on the cross. The veil was approximately 60 feet high. From Jewish tradition, it was about 4 inches wide and, according to Exodus, consisted of blue, purple and scarlet material including linen.

The veil in the temple being torn is a big deal.  It should not go unnoticed.  It happened. It is a historical fact.  It’s significance and importance should not be ignored. The veil in the temple was not just a simple cloth that separated the inner Temple – the holy of holies.

The holy of holies was the room which was initially to house the ark of the covenant which contained the tablets of the covenant. This was where God resided to the nation Israel until its destruction by the Romans in AD 70, as predicted by Jesus.

Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and then, only once a year on Yom Kippur, which was the Jewish Day of Atonement. All others were forbidden to enter, and the veil kept all other people out.  The Jews only had indirect access to God through the high priest.

This is a historical fact, yet most point to the empty tomb as the demonstration of the deity of Jesus. What surprises me is that the Disciples lost it after Jesus died. For three days, they were in disarray, having forgotten Jesus’ promise to return.  They somehow ignored what happened in the Temple other than their belief that Jesus was dead.

They forgot He said he would return three days later. They ignored the tearing of the veil which was in the temple close by Golgotha. They had obvious problems with their short-term memory, although the older I get, the more sympathetic I am to faulty memory.

Not only was the veil torn, but it was torn from the top to the bottom. If it had been torn from the bottom up, one could argue that it was torn by human hands.  But it was torn from the top down, which demonstrates that it was not torn by human intervention.

The earth quaked and the rocks were split.  Seems to me that it is kind of hard to miss all of this, but somehow, the Disciples missed it.  They thought Jesus was dead. Period. Until John saw the empty tomb three days later, they lost their faith. John had a eureka moment when he visited the empty tomb. Jesus was alive after all.

We’re like the Disciples at times, including our memories. We forget the temple veil was torn. We forget that the physical separation of us from God was removed once and for all.  We don’t have to wait for one day a year to approach God.  We have 24/7 access. The Old Covenant has passed, and the New Covenant of access to God through Jesus emerged.

Our challenge is to remember that Jesus death and resurrection was surrounded by historical events that often get overlooked. We are often like the Disciples who were so focused on the crucifixion that they lose sight of Jesus predictions from obvious evidence. Jesus died for us but was resurrected.  He is Alive!

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Be sure your mentee understands the historical facts surrounding the events of Passion week.  The tearing of the veil is a historical fact, and symbolizes our ability to know God directly.

FURTHER STUDY:  The significance of the torn veil:

WORSHIP: Listen to Travis Cottrell sing “In Christ Alone/On Solid Rock


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 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, Acts 19:11

 One of the topics that always seems to escape a lot of attention is miracles. Not just the ones that Jesus and Paul performed throughout their ministry, but miracles in the here and now. Things that have happened without any logical or rational explanation. I know people are often unwilling to ascribe some experience as a being a “miracle”.

Jesus healed the sick, the lame, and restored sight to the blind. He walked on water, changed water into wine and raised Lazarus from the dead. But when we are asked about our faith, we revert to theological analysis. We often point to the resurrection – the empty tomb – as evidence of Jesus deity, leaving all of his miracles in the dust.

In our world, we often think of remarkable experiences in terms of luck, although I have distanced myself from the word “luck” because it has the same root word from which we get “Lucifer”.    I guess I’ve always associated “luck” with the dark side ever since.

I have two stories to tell.  Both are personal, so I can say, without contradiction, that I didn’t get these from someone who told them, who got it from someone who told them. These are first person experiences.

One happened this week. I was finishing a 30-mile bike ride out in the country, and was hit from behind by a car doing 35 miles per hour. Now, that is an invitation to trauma, even for someone who is not 72.  All I can remember is the noise and impact and then lying in the road taking inventory of my body. Most things appeared to be working.

A volunteer fireman, who witnessed the accident, helped me up and over to the side of the road where I sat until the ambulance came. I felt a little woozy on my feet, so they took me to the Emergency Room where they observed me, took x-rays and a CAT scan to be sure that I wasn’t bleeding internally.

The EMS told me that he was amazed I wasn’t hurt more.  In his experience of cars striking persons on bikes, they don’t end well for the bike rider. He said the last collision was between a biker and a golf cart, and the biker ended up being airlifted to Chapel Hill with head injuries that required specialty treatment at a trauma center.

The ER doctor told me that anyone who is 72 and is hit by a car doing 35 must have something wrong with them, and he was committed to finding it.  All tests were negative. No broken bones, no internal bleeding.

After 5 hours, they released me and I walked out of the ER with nothing more than a couple of abrasions (one on my right knee that a Band-Aid could cover, and one on my left elbow).  Admittedly, I was a little sore from where the car struck me.

The other story occurred about 6 years ago when I had just been diagnosed with Prostate cancer.  I was attending a ministry dinner for the MentorLink board members and their spouses which precedes our board meetings the next day. I revealed my recent diagnosis, and the gathering put me in a wing chair to lay hands on me and pray.

Included in the group praying for me was Diana Green, a board member’s wife. She arrived at the dinner with a black ace bandage on her elbow.  She explained that she had damaged her funny bone in her elbow which she described as not very funny, and in fact, very painful. She couldn’t even hold a dinner plate with it, and her husband, Floyd, had to help her through the buffet line.

Wonderful prayers for healing and encouragement ensued.  When it was over, and everyone said “Amen”, Diana stood up, wiggled her hurt arm a couple of times, took of the bandage and exclaimed that it her elbow didn’t hurt anymore. She never had a problem with it again.

What do these two stories have in common?  Well, the latter one is the power of healing demonstrated through prayer. For the record, my treatment for prostate cancer went well, but it was not as remarkable as Diana’s healing.  I’ve known her for 35 years, and can attest that she isn’t one to make something like that up.

As for my accident, all I can say is that God protected me in a remarkable way. Put another way, He’s not done with me yet. Driving home from the ER, Sis said she had a premonition that I had an accident, and wasn’t sure whether she would be planning my funeral on the next day. The accident shook her to the core.

That puts the accident in perspective:  being able to walk out of the hospital with not much more than a couple of bruises and small abrasions is hard to explain after being hit by a car doing 35 mph.

Why am I writing about these two incidents? Well, for one thing, we often don’t share stories about our miracles, which is part of our testimony.  When someone comes up to you and is skeptical about your faith, we often think about saying something that is biblical that will keep them open to the gospel.

We quickly forget the miracles which happen to us and all around us.  Miracles demonstrate God’s power and intervention in our lives.  Why do I believe in God?  Well, for one thing, I know when God’s hand is on me.  Yesterday was one of those times when I was protected.  You don’t have to be a bible scholar to tell what God has done for you.

Our challenge is to remember the miracles in your life. Be sure to share them with others as a testimony of God’s goodness which is so undeserved. That’s what grace is all about.  One thing that has struck me is that God’s grace is there in every circumstance, even a bicycle accident.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Share miracles in your lives with your mentees. It will be an encouragement to know that God is real and that He is in the miracle business today.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “Your Grace is Enough”:

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One Another


Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  John 13:14-16

Years ago, I noticed a number of passages in the Bible which referred to things that we should do in relationship with others.  I started marking passages in the margin of my bible with “o/a” which signified “one another”.

The passages mostly come from the New Testament where we are given guidance on how we are to live out our faith in community with others.  The first four books of the New Testament emphasize our vertical relationship with God through Jesus.

The rest of the New Testament has a greater focus on the horizontal – how we live with each other, our family, friends and community.  It makes an interesting study.

Here’s a partial list that I developed – both verses and content. I came up with over 30 of them.  There may be more.

  1. Love one another.  John 13:34-35, Galatians 5:14
  2. Wash one another’s feet.  John 13:14
  3. Encourage one another.  Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25, 1 Thess. 5:11 and 4:18
  4. Pray for one another. James 5:16
  5. Build up one another.  Romans 14:19, 1 Thess. 5:11
  6. Serve one another.  Galatians 5:13
  7. Teach and admonish one another.  Colossians 3:16
  8. Confess your sins to one another.  James 5:16
  9. Don’t judge one another.  Romans 14:13
  10. Carry one another’s burdens.  Galatians 5:13
  11. Submit to one another.  Ephesians 5:21
  12. Forgive one another.  Colossians 4:13, Colossians 3:13
  13. Comfort one another.  2 Corinthians 6:12
  14. Do not provoke one another. Galatians 5:26
  15. Be kind to one another.  1 Thessalonians 5:15. 2 Corinthians 6:12
  16. Be kind and compassionate with one another. Ephesians 4:32
  17. Bear with and forgive one another. Colossians 3:13
  18. Spur one another on to love and good deeds.  Hebrews 10:24
  19. Do not slander one another. James 4:11
  20. Offer hospitality to one another. 1 Peter 4:9

This list of “one-anothers” is very practical. It amplifies how loving one another looks like.  If you do all the things on this list to others, you have learned to love them in very practical ways.

But it’s a long list of “to do’s”.  Jesus simplified the list with an overarching set of priorities. He made it simple for us.  We are to first love God and then we should love one another.  Simple.  Straight forward.

To Jesus, you love one another by serving them.  In John 13:12-17, Jesus gives this remarkable statement:  “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Love serves.  Love does.  It results in an action of serving others in a variety of ways. That’s how we “one another” – “one another”.  We serve them.

So, how do you best serve others?  That’s going to be different for every one of us.  It depends on your gifts, your talents, your passions – how you are hard-wired, as it were.

God made each of us is different (my wife is glad of that). One of the roles of a mentor is to help the mentee to find his purpose in life – what God intended for that individual.

It takes time and patience for some of us to figure it out, but the mentor can aid the discussion by providing a sounding board and asking questions.  It is not a science – it is more like art.

It takes time for the mentor to help the mentee figure out his strengths/weaknesses and his gifts and talents, and then help guide them towards figuring out the vision for their life. (Note: it is not the vision of the mentee, not the mentor,  that is important.).

The challenge is, and has been for two millennia, to learn to love and serve one another. One role of serving that has dropped through the cracks of our culture in the past century is the role of mentor in others’ lives.   It’s a way that you can serve the next generation.

If you have some gray hair, you need to realize that the next generation around you are looking for your input, but you may not have noticed.  Take time today to invest in someone else’s life – to wash their feet, as it were, by your spending time with them and helping them become all that God wants them to be. That would be a good way to serve “one another”.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You can serve the next generation by coming alongside them.  It’s not hard and certainly not complicated. It’s what Jesus did, and you can do it too.

WORSHIP:   Listen to The Power of Your Name where the lyric goes “I will give with the life that I have been given, and go beyond religion to see the world be changed by the power of your name

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at

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