Friday, December 19, 2014

Birth and Life of a Missionary

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15 NAS)

Birth and Life of a MissionaryEven before he was born, the parents of James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) had prayed about their son going to China someday. But at age 15, Hudson Taylor was skeptical of Christianity and turned off “by the inconsistencies of Christian people” who claimed to believe the Bible but “were yet content to live just as they would if there were no such book.” He decided then to pursue a secular life and to live for his life only. His mother and sister, however, persisted in praying for him.

In June 1849, Taylor had a change of heart after reading a gospel tract he picked up from his father’s library. In it he came to understand the finished work of Christ and of His perfect atonement and satisfaction for sin. Salvation was apprehended in that moment as Hudson Taylor fell on his knees and accepted Christ as his Savior.

The next years saw Taylor learning the rudiments of medicine, studying Mandarin, and immersing himself deeper into the Bible and prayer. His heart was to have the Christian faith taken to the interior of China. Taylor was unhappy with the missionaries he saw who had adopted rich lifestyles and neglected going further inland to the rural and poorer areas.

“China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women,” said Hudson Taylor. “The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.”

Within months after arriving Shanghai on March 1, 1854, Hudson Taylor along with Joseph Edkins set off for the interior, setting sail down the Huangpu River distributing Chinese Bibles and tracts.

Before long, Taylor was convinced that a special organization was needed to evangelize the interior of China, but he was wracked with doubt.  He was worried about sending men and women unprotected into the interior, and at the same time despaired for the millions of Chinese who were dying without the hope of the gospel. 

In 1865, Taylor wrote in his diary, “For two or three months, intense conflict … Thought I should lose my mind.” Then there was a break in his journal for seven weeks. Worn out and ill, Hudson Taylor had gone to friends for rest. While walking along the beach at the south coast of England in Brighton, Taylor’s gloom lifted.

“There the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. I told Him that all responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with Him; that as His servant it was mine to obey and to follow Him.”

With absolute trust in God, Taylor’s new mission which he called China Inland Mission (CIM) grew and prospered. Thousands were inspired by him to forsake the comforts of the West to bring the gospel message to the vast and unknown interior of China. Today, the mission of CIM is continued under the name, Overseas Missionary Fellowship (International), to evangelize to the world.

The life and story of James Hudson Taylor is documented in many places on the worldwide web. Many like him had passed on and accomplished great tasks following the will of God. As followers of the Lord, we have also been called to the great commission, but few are convinced to live beyond the mundane when it comes to reaching out to others because of inconveniences and unpopularity. 

Unlike many of us, Hudson Taylor was willing to become a laughing stock to both foreign and Chinese onlookers just in order to help people see what he preached was not such a foreign message after all. He chose to wear the clothes of the common Chinese so as not to be seen as an outsider.

Hudson Taylor died on June 3, 1905 and was buried in Changsha, Hunan. During his 51 years of service there, CIM established 20 mission stations, brought 849 missionaries to the field, trained some 700 Chinese workers, raised four million dollars by faith, and developed a witnessing Chinese church of 125,000.

Dear Lord, thank You for the example set by J. Hudson Taylor to teach us not to neglect those who are yet unsaved, simply because of inconveniences or fear of being ridiculed. Help us to be always ready to do Your work and to surrender ourselves for Your service.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Righteous in Christ

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 HCS)

Righteous in Christ
Stephen was born in a Christian family and grew up thinking that God is an angry God. Since young, he was afraid of failing because he did not want to anger God, so he started confessing every wrong deed he had done. Finally, he told himself he would do what he wanted to do first and come back to God later. Before long he was led astray and his life became bitter as he indulged in all kinds of sin—smoking, drinking, drug use and many other stuff.

A year after he thought he was going to die due to drug overdosed, Stephen came to the end of himself and wanted to return to Jesus. Hearing a sermon by a pastor about the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, he took hold of that truth as his armor against his sinful ways. Within two weeks, God delivered him from all his bad habits. Today, Stephen reigns over them. Two years has passed since, and the work of God in his life continues to amaze people around him. God has also been opening doors for him to preach the good news.

The story of Stephen Zechariah Christopher was written by him as a testimony, shared at Like Stephen, many of us have our own stories to tell about our adventures with God. Although some of our testimonies may not be as spectacular as that of Stephen’s, each of us surely have experienced the goodness of God in our lives, even if we may have gone astray from Him.

Jesus, in the parable of the lost son, told a similar story of someone who chose to leave his father to explore the world. He squandered his estate in foolish living and after he had spent everything and worked in the fields feeding pigs, he came to his senses and decided to go back to his father. While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran and threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. He then celebrated the return of his son with a feast (Luke 15:11-24).

This is how our heavenly Father is like. Even when we have walked away from Him, if we choose to return, He would run toward us and throw His arms around our necks and kiss us. He would celebrate our return with much joy. 

Today, we are able to experience and receive God’s unmerited favor only because we have been declared righteous by faith and justified through faith in the finished work of our Lord at the cross and in His resurrection. We are now able to live victorious lives because we have peace with God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Our lives can continue to impact and amaze the people around us if we live to show out Christ in us. Our God will open doors for us if we let Him lead in all our ways (Romans 5:1, 9).

Now to Him who is able to keep us from stumbling and present us before His glorious presence, blameless and with great joy—to the only God our Savior—be glory, majesty, power, and authority through Christ Jesus our Lord before all time, now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24-25).

Dear Lord, thank You for loving us so much that You would run toward us and place Your arms around our necks and kiss us even while we are still a long way off. Your unmerited favor and overflowing love overwhelm our hearts, and we cannot help but declare Your praises and worship You. Our lives we now willingly place before You to do whatever You would have us do according to Your will, for only in You we can truly be satisfied and completely set free from our unrighteous ways. To You O God our Savior be all glory, majesty, power and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.    

Friday, December 5, 2014

Spiritual Maturity

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11 NAS)

Spiritual Maturity
At the age of 17, Edison was unsure what the years ahead would be like for him. He had completed junior high school but was unable to further his studies because of his grades. Two options were opened to him—to pursue vocational studies or to get a job.

Edison tried first to get into a vocational school, but his application was rejected. Left without a choice, he started work in a fast food chain as a crew, but after a while he gave it up. He then took up a junior clerical job with an accounting firm but knew in his heart that was not it.

A year later, Edison joined the navy and was assigned a logistics clerk position after a pre-enlistment checkup. While in the navy, he learned many things and grew in maturity. After two years, he was ready to enter the concrete jungle of the world at large, and with God by his side, he had nothing to fear.

Not many of those coming of age think like Edison anymore. These days, teens face greater challenges making decisions that could be life threatening, and they are not just about smoking or sex, but include crack and deadly drugs, violence, depression, drinking, among other vices. Problems like lying, cheating, learning disabilities, emotional trauma, and the like are also just as disconcerting. Many a time, we may not be able to understand what is going on in the minds of teenagers, but we must not lose heart guiding them.

The only one thing that differentiates between those in trouble and those that are not is the values the teenagers have learned and adopted from the adults. As Christian parents or guardians, therefore, we need to set good examples for our young, so as to teach them godly values from the word of God. We ought also to take time to listen to them, show them love and respect for themselves and for everyone else, and lead them to the right path, which direction they must eventually choose for themselves.

Just as there is need for teenagers to grow up in maturity, parents and guardians ought also to grow in spiritual maturity to better guide children. How we guide them along the way is of utmost importance. Let us pave our ways and our children’s ways to grow and progress steadily (1 Corinthians 3:2; 13:11-12; Hebrews 5:12, 14; 6:1). 

Dear Lord, help us understand our children, so we might guide them in the path of Your righteousness. Teach us in the understanding of Your word that we might grow in spiritual maturity to better guide them by examples, and instill in them Your godly values. In our busyness, remind us to take time to listen to them and to show them love and respect for themselves and others. Guide and lead them to the right path in their making of decisions that they might grow and progress steadily in You. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Heroic Sacrifice

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. (Romans 5:7 NAS)

Heroic Sacrifice
Tyler knew he didn't have school the coming Monday because it was a holiday, so he asked his mother if he could stay over at his grandfather's trailer in the suburb of Rochester N.Y. at Penfield. Tyler knew the place very well because he had stayed with his grandfather many times.

At around 4:45 in the early morning on that Monday, an electrical fire broke out and spread quickly while the trailer’s nine occupants slept. Tyler was the first to wake up and he alerted six of his relatives, including two younger children ages 4 and 6, all of whom escaped. He then went back to help his grandfather and disabled uncle. When the firefighters arrived, Tyler's body was found near his uncle, who also perished along with his grandfather.

The heroic deed of 9-year-old Tyler J Doohan was reported in the news in January 2014 by and

Not all of us are likely to willingly die for another, unless that someone is dear to us or is our loved one. The Apostle Paul knew that when he wrote, “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.” Thankfully for us, our God is not like man, otherwise all of us would be doom to die in eternity. But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were helpless and yet sinners, Christ died for us. He did not send His Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:17).

Are we willing to risk our lives without knowing where we would be in eternity? Are we aware that no matter how noble our intent or heroic we are to even be willing to die for another, without Christ as our Lord and Savior, we would still have to face eternal death?

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to God the Father except through Him. All things came into being through Him, and without Him nothing came into being that has come into being. But as many as received Jesus and believed in His name, to them God gave the right to become children of God. For in this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (John 14:6; 1:3, 12; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).

Jesus’ death on the cross was more than just a good deed to save us all. He did it out of love for us, even while we were yet sinners. Although He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, born in the likeness of men. Being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name. This same Jesus is coming back to us in power and glory (Philippians 2:6-9; John 14:28; Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:30). Are we ready when He returns?

Dear Lord, thank You for coming to our rescue when we were lost. We are forever grateful to You for loving us so much that You willingly give up Your all to come in the form of man and die on the cross to save us all. We exalt Your name above every name, for You are the way, the truth, and the life.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, 
In the company of the upright and in the assembly.

~ Psalm 111:1 (NAS) ~

Friday, November 21, 2014

Place of Solitary

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32 NIV)

Place of Solitary
It was an hour or more just before sunrise. My wife and I were all set to go with the ranger on a jeep with another ten to fifteen people to visit the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and National Park in the North West Province of southern Africa. We were all excited at the prospect of seeing untamed wildlife in its natural habitat.

The ride through the reserve was an experience of a lifetime. All of us were feeling a sense of adventure and in high spirits as we breathed in the fresh air and the awe-inspiring sights of endless valleys and infinite unobstructed view of mountains, which seemed to span beyond the horizon. Along the way, we saw elephants, rhinos, lions, buffaloes, leopard, hippos, giraffes, and deer, among other animals.

Not all of us are likely to get to visit a park that gives us such deep and lasting impression. The truth is we do not need to travel far to appreciate the magnificence of God’s creation. If only we would stop and pause in our busyness, even just for a little while, we would be able to see the glory of the flowers, the birds, the sea, and much more. If we would quiet ourselves and pay attention, we would hear the sounds of nature amid the noises, the chirpings, the breeze and the winds, the sea waves, and much more. There is no need for us to see auroras or exotic wildlife to know our God exist, for “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).

When we look up into the night sky and behold millions of stars and the moon, do our heart feel stirred up within us? When we see a picturesque view of God’s handiwork, do we feel overwhelmed with awe? How do we feel when we see falling leaves or falling snow, sunrise or sunsets, gorgeous landscapes, panoramic views or exotic sights beyond our imagination?

Traveling abroad on a trip is a good way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world to get back on track with God and experience tranquility in His creation. But if we are unable to go on a holiday or leave town to a distant somewhere that allow us to quiet ourselves and spend time with God, we need simply to find a place away from the crowd. Converse with God and listen to Him in the surroundings of nature or in a room. Stay in tune with God and be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Ephesians 4:23).

Like the disciples who were too busy even to eat, Jesus is saying to us, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” In response to our Lord’s loving care, let us know when to stop and pause amid our busyness to go away by ourselves to the place of solitary (Mark 6:31-32).

Dear Lord, our hearts are filled with awe when we behold the wonders of Your creation. Thank You for giving us so many samples of Your handiwork to assure us of Your presence and Your greatness. Remind us in our busyness to set aside time to go away to a quiet place to commune with You. Keep us in tune with You and renew us in the spirit of our minds to hear and know Your direction in all we do that Your likeness in us may shine through. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Don't Doubt

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NAS)

Don't Doubt
Elliot was not really interested in what he was doing, but he did not have a choice because he had to provide for his family, pay the bills, and contribute to a fund for the support of a sick mother. He has just started on a contract job with a non-profit organization a while ago as a digital content administrator, but his real interest was to be a writer or to do some editorial related work.

Ever since Elliot was laid off from a corporate job nearly two years ago, he had been struggling to make ends meet working as a freelance writer. During days and months when project assignments fall to a low or none at all, he would only take bread for his meals, and even that was a luxury. As a believer of the Christian faith, he knew what the Bible said in Philippians 4:12 about getting along with humble means and living in prosperity; going hungry and being filled; suffering need and having abundance, in any and every circumstance. Nevertheless, the struggle was real with a cut of a fifth of his remuneration from his last employment. At times, he was tempted to think he was deluding himself to believe when things were going well that God was blessing him and his family, and when things were doing badly that God was teaching him something.

Many of us are like Elliot. When things are doing well, we praise God and thank Him. But when things get stormy, we wonder whether God really cares or is He putting us on trial through a molding process. When the circumstances we are in become too great to handle and overtake us, we begin to doubt God’s love for us or that He exists. No amount of head knowledge about what the Bible said is going to help us if we are in doubt or choose to disbelieve. As children of God, we are never defeated unless we give up on God. Yet, God never gives up on us (Romans 5:8).

Are we struggling in our circumstances right now? Are we in doubt God exists or cares for us? Are we able to recall the times when God took care of us? If we have experienced His love and care for us in the past, surely, we can trust God to take care of us in the present and the future. Knowing God cares for us from the Scriptures is one thing, but experiencing God’s care for us is another. Are we assured of God’s love and care for us?

Jesus our Lord is the same yesterday and today and forever. He does not change. He is not slow about His promise, but is patient toward everyone, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Let us, therefore, fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Like the psalmist, let us remember God and meditate on Him who has been our help, and in the shadow of His wings sing for joy (Hebrews 12:2; 13:8; 2 Peter 3:9; Psalm 55:19; 63:6-7).

Dear Lord, forgive our doubting hearts, especially during the times of our struggles. You know how it is within us when we see the lives of our loved ones falling apart because of us, and You know how it breaks our hearts not to be able to do anything about it. Help us cease striving to keep our calm and fix our eyes on You, the author and perfecter of our faith. In the shadow of Your wings, we will sing for joy, for we are confident that You who has begun a good work in us will perfect it until the day we see You face to face.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Of Things Unseen

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 NAS)

Of Things Unknown
The soldiers were apprehensive. They were about to attack their enemy—an army far greater in number and more experience in warfare than them—but all they have were only 300 men with trumpets of ram horns and torches in empty pitchers of clay. Yet their leader appeared nonchalant, unfazed or unaware of the dire situation they were in.

Surely, he could have come up with a better plan than this, the soldiers thought. Or is he planning on sending us to our deaths?

The Bible does not record how the soldiers felt when Gideon called the 300 men to battle against the armies of Midian. But we probably can comprehend how we would have felt in their situation (Judges 7:7, 16-22).

Perhaps, to some of us, trying out something we know nothing of might be fun, but for many, we are likely to feel the jitters of the unknown because of our inability to control what might happen. This is why faith is important because it is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Thankfully, we who are born of God need not be apprehensive about our future because we know from the word of God what lies ahead.

Are we, like the soldiers under Gideon’s leadership, sometimes wondering what our God is up to? Perhaps the things happening or going on in our lives are overwhelming or appear illogical or incomprehensible. Do we doubt God because of our inability to see what lies ahead?

Faith requires that we do not doubt, for whoever comes to God must believe He exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Like Abraham who obeyed without knowing where he was going to receive for an inheritance, we who are in Christ, as the seed of Abraham and as heirs of God’s promise, ought also to walk in faith. Trust in the LORD with all our heart and do not lean on our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight (Hebrews 11:6, 8; Galatians 3:29; Proverbs 3:5-6).

Dear Lord, the thrill and suspense of the great things You have planned for us in the days ahead sometimes scare us because of our lack of faith. Help us to trust You completely and not doubt even for a moment Your love for us and Your desire to give us only good things. No matter how incomprehensible or illogical the things going on in our lives may seem, grant us a heart that believes You are near, and that You reward those who earnestly seek You. Direct us on our paths as we acknowledge You in all our ways. 

Friday, October 31, 2014


The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9 NIV)

Eustace was no ordinary boy. He was odious—a pain in the neck to the people around him. He liked bossing and bullying, and although he was a puny little person who could not have stood up even to a girl of his age in a fight, he knew of many ways to give people a hard time.

While accompanying his cousins on a sea trip, Eustace slipped away on his own when the ship docked at an island. After strolling inland for some time, he stumbled upon a dragon’s lair and coveted its treasures. Sliding a large bracelet over his arm, Eustace soon fell asleep. When he awoke the next morning, he realized he had turned into a dragon.

The story of the adventures of Eustace Clarence Scrubb was written by C. S. Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace’s transformation was the result of his own condition on the inside. Like Eustace, the Bible also spoke of another, who because of his own prideful and wicked heart, fell from God’s grace. 

Lucifer was created perfect and beautiful—a guardian cherub—blameless until wickedness was found in him. His heart was proud because of his beauty and his wisdom corrupted because of his splendor. In his heart, he said, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly ... I will make myself like the Most High.” So God drove him out in disgrace—the great dragon and ancient serpent who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth along with his angels and cast down to the realm of the dead to the depths of the pit (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-18; Revelation 12:9).

Even today, Lucifer, the devil, or Satan, is still actively spending much of his time accusing the followers of Jesus. Nevertheless, we need not fear him because the Lord is our defense; He has paid the price for our sins and has replaced our dirty clothes with fine garments. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. We are from God and have overcome the enemy and his agents. Nothing will harm us because our names have been written in heaven (Job 1:6; 2:1; Zechariah 3:1-4; Psalm 118:14; 1 John 4:4; Luke 10:17-20).

Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:18-19).

Are we sometimes, like Eustace, bossing around, bullying, and causing pain to others? Are we afraid of the accuser because of the wrongs we have done? Do we at times harbor wrong attitudes within us? Have we ever prayed or wished for harm to come upon someone who wronged us? Are we desiring or laying up treasures that do not belong to us?

As followers of the Lord, let us have this attitude in us, that if in anything we have a different attitude, God will reveal to us. Nevertheless, we should keep on living by the same standard to which we have attained, and be watchful not to have Dirty Rotten Attitudes Going On Now (DRAGON) or any time later. Do not become proud as to think we have achieved much on our own without God, for every blessing we have today is by the grace of God. All our righteous acts are like filthy rags, and it is by grace we have been saved, not by our works (Philippians 3:15-16; Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Dear Lord, forgive us for the wrong attitudes we harbor at times. You know our weaknesses and You know when we stand accused, helpless on our own. Yet You have clothed us with fine garments and replaced our dirty clothes by paying with Your blood the price for our sins. Thank You for being our defender and for granting us authority to overcome all the power of the enemy that nothing will harm us. Set our hearts in tune with what is right that we may lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven and not store up treasures on earth.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Joy Amid Troubles

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 NAS)

Joy Amid Troubles
I must admit I am not exactly the kind of guy who laughs at a joke or see things with a sense of humor. But when I received an email with an article titled ‘Psalm 23 for the Information Age’ by an unknown author, I could not help but chuckle at what was written.

    The Lord is my programmer, I shall not crash.
    He installed His software on the hard disk of my heart.
    All of His commands are user friendly.
    His directory guides me to the right choices for His name's sake.

    Even though I scroll through the problems of life,
    I will fear no bugs, For He is my backup.
    His password protects me.
    He prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies.
    His help is only a keystroke away.

    Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
    And my file will be merged with His and saved forever.


This ‘psalm’ is of course NOT an attempt to modify God's word! It is simply a hypothetical funny presentation from a creative mind. In a sense, there are some lessons we can learn from this adapted version of the psalm.

Our Lord is the ‘programmer’ who knows the plans He has for us to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future. His word is stored in our hearts, and His yoke is easy. His Spirit guides us to make the right choices (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 119:11; Matthew 11:30; John 16:13).

Even if we are going through tough times or walking through the darkest valley, we need not fear because God is always behind and before us; His angels protect and guard us. He provides for us even amid trying times in the presence of our foes. God is always near to help us (Psalm 139:5; Exodus 14:19; Psalm 23:4; Psalm 91:5-16; Psalm 145:18).

Surely, God's goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives as we abide in the Lord and He in us, for in Him we are saved forever (Psalm 23:6; John 15:4, 7; 1 John 5:11-12).

Dear Lord, grant us a joyful heart even amid troubled times and desperate need. Help us who are struggling remain thankful and grateful to You, and to continue to trust in You. Refresh our spirit with a joy overwhelming regardless the circumstances we are in. Guide us by Your Spirit and Your word to make right choices. Protect and guard us from our foes. Let Your goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives as we continue to abide in You and Your word, just as You abide in us.


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