End the Unholy Alliance

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2015 by jcwill5

Ever since Communism, with its atheistic and anti-capitalist agenda, burst on the scene, American Evangelicals and American Business have made common cause.

In that era, traditional, god-fearing morality was part of being an American, as was capitalism

The freedom of people to buy and sell as they wished, and the freedom of people to worship as they wished, were under threat.

There was therefore a pro-morality and pro-defense and pro-business alliance that found itself in the Republican Party.

For our part, we Evangelicals overlooked the worship of greed and the injustices committed by big business, in the long and hard-fought Cold War against a diabolical system.

Things Are Different

But now twenty-five years later the situation has reversed and our alliance is dead.

I propose we Evangelicals do a major re-think about our standing alliance with Big Business.

It is no longer popular, and therefore profitable, for Big Business to be pro-morality.

In the recent tussles over gay rights and same-sex marriage, when there’s a conflict between the conscience of a Christian business owner and the social agenda to require absolute approval of homosexuality, Big Business has firmly come down on the side of cultural progressivism and sexual liberation.

The nub of the matter is we are commanded by God to discriminate, not participate in, or lend a hand to evil.

We cannot, of course, stop evils from happening.

But we are never to help evils happen, make evil comfortable, or make evil convenient or easier for people to do.

Beyond passive resistance and non-participation in evil, we are even called to actively resist evil and to expose evil for what it is–presenting Christ as the alternative and the only rescue from evil.

Big Business, and Progressive Big Government, are now allies.

These co-joined twins will never be content to allow us to practice our biblical morality in every sphere of life, let alone in our churches.

They are coming for us.

Take the Boy Scouts.

It was corporate sponsors’ pressure against the ban on openly homosexual members that is behind the BSA’s recent reversal.

Even as the Boy Scouts relaxed their nationwide ban against homosexual adult leaders, many corporate voices are calling them to abolish the religious group exception the BSA gave to religious-sponsored troops.

Big business leaders, by-and-large, don’t give a hoot for conscience, let alone Christian conscience that cannot and will not enable, support, endorse, and accept a clearly anti-biblical and immoral behavior: homosexuality.

In the recent efforts by some states to grant exceptions to religious businesses owners, particularly in the wedding industry, to not participate in same-sex weddings, they have been opposed and overturned by big business.

Their true colors are showing.

They are not our friends.

They are our enemies and are in bed with those who would purge us from society and require us to embrace practices God absolutely hates and for which He sends people to Hell.

Time to Politically Divorce Big Business

For this reason, we Evangelicals have good cause to divorce Big Business politically.

But there are other reasons, reasons we should never have forgotten in the first place, for this overdue political divorce and realignment with pro-small business, pro-worker, and anti-corruption forces.

For one thing, the Bible says, “Greed…is idolatry”.

The worship of unfettered money-making and materialism is as bad a sin as homosexuality, and it also send people to Hell.

In fact, Jesus bluntly says, “You cannot worship God and money!”

And, especially in the Old Testament, those who exploit day laborers and withhold pay and abuse their workers are subject to the severe judgment of God.

He promises to hear their cry.

Not Socialism

Have I turned socialist?  Absolutely not!

Am I proposing an alliance with progressives?  No.

What I am saying is there are many small business owners on Main Street, and many underpaid and exploited workers, who are not well served by Big Business, to put it mildly.

Many of them are believers, and many of them are still very friendly to morality.

In a fallen world and in a democracy, we’ll find common cause with some strange groups and unlikely allies at times.

Now that the Cold War is over, and now that Big Business is aggressively seeking to impose a social order that denies us our ability to conscientiously object and refuse to participate in immorality, it’s time to end our unholy alliance with them.

The sooner, the better, as far as I’m concerned.

The Desolate Path Home

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2015 by jcwill5

I used to believe that if I was really close to God it would be one big happy, easy party.

Then I took a closer look at Jesus and He began to etch my life on a parallel direction to His.

He moved me away from magic to real faith.

Desolation is Usual, Not Exceptional

There is indeed a cup of sorrow we will drink.

There are desolate times of wilderness and of wanderings for even the greatest saints.

There are times of breaking and of hanging lonely and forsaken on a cross.

These seasons are not abnormal.

They do not mean we have somehow failed God or missed out on His secret formula to life.

Desolation is Not How God Views Us

Desolation does not mean God has it out for us, or has abandoned us, or has turned against us.

He takes no joy in our suffering, even the necessary kind of redemptive suffering He permits to make us more like Jesus in our innermost character.

He is not a tormentor, not a sadist-in-the-sky, not Someone who gets a secret thrill over watching others suffer while He sits smugly and snugly in heaven.

He Himself suffered unimaginably on the cross, in other words.

In Christ He suffered the full gamut of suffering, every dimension and in ultimate intensity, for our sake.

Desolation is Our Redemption on the March

Christ baptized suffering, redeemed it, and unleashes it as a soul-building, gospel-validating, and world-shaking force that causes the most heavily guarded strongholds of evil to tremble.

The reason is a person who suffers, who is willing to endure desolation and sorrow for His sake out of a foremost love and trust in Him, and for the good of others, is a person who cannot be bought or bribed.

Such a person is free, is the true non-conformist who has not sold out to the world super-system.

Nothing bad the world inflicts, and nothing good the world takes away, sways them.

They are beyond bribes and threats.

The person who has passed the test of suffering is the person who has made Christ and Christ alone their treasure, their destination, and their identity.

As Paul puts it so well, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Beyond Theory to Encounter

But knowing all this often does not help.

For when one is in the desolate place, the place of frustration and futility and wandering, we don’t want or need an intellectual pick-me-up.

What we need is an encounter in the desert.

What we need to to wrestle the angel of the Lord.

What we cannot arrange is a burning bush or a mountaintop cloud that overshadows us.

The Garden Encounter

So we enter the same garden Christ did on the eve of His crucifixion.

We grieve the hardest there, and are the most alone there.

We shed our bitterest tears and sweat drops of blood.

Then we acknowledge He is still our Abba Father, and is still able to do all things.

We beg God for an easier, less painful way for His will to be done.

We finally hear Him say, “My child, there is no other, less painful way for My will to be accomplished, for the good I want to do through you to happen!”

So, after a long hard wrestling match, we arrive where Christ did, “Not my will but Yours be done!”

Like the patriarch Jacob, we go from wrestling the angel of the Lord, to being painfully pinned by Him, to clinging to Him and begging Him, ‘I won’t let go until you bless me!”

Then He does just that–and we see the face of God like Jacob did.

Or, like Job, we see God in the end and that’s enough to satisfy our sorrow-driven doubts and accusing questions.

Rather than having a lifelong party, we end up enjoying the deepest and most profound friendship with God Himself.

And such an outcome is reserved for the pain-tested, suffering-surrendered soul.

It only comes through seasons of desolation.

It is our one true path home.

Joined and Severed

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2015 by jcwill5

The way Americans define death, and the way the Bible defines death, are different.

For most of us, death is non-existence-the extinction of the self where our body ceases to function biologically and begins to decompose.

In this view, death is the end of life.

How God Defines Death

But that’s not how God looks at it.

In His view as Creator and Sustainer of life, death is defined spiritually.

It is the unnatural separation of what ought to never have been divided in the first place.

Bodies and souls were never meant to be severed.

It is this severance, the departure of the soul from the body, that brings about biologic cessation.

God and people were never meant to be severed by sin.

It is this severance, our alienation and division from God, that kills the human spirit and corrupts the human soul (personality and character) and initiates the aging and dying processes.

God and people were never meant to be separated for all eternity.

It is this final severance which is called “the second death” in Revelation–the final and eternal disposition of those who remain severed from God at biologic death and whose severance is both final and terrible.

What ‘Dead to Sin’ Means

All this to say that, when the Bible tells Christ-followers they have died to sin, what it means is that our joining to sin has been severed at conversion and we are now rejoined to God through Christ by the power of the Spirit.

To die to sin is to be severed from sin’s power, dominance, and control as a defining relationship.

We have been unplugged from that socket and plugged into Christ, and our task is to stay connected to Christ on a moment-by-moment basis.

To walk in this new, reconnected relationship with God, in other words.

To never let ourselves be disconnected to God and reconnected to sin, in other words.

But since perfection is not possible, and since we still have this indwelling sin-monster within us, we will often find ourselves in recovery mode.

Recovery mode begins when I recognized I have disconnected from Christ and have joined myself to something else.

Joining myself to a sin, joining myself to worry, joining myself to my sorrows, joining myself to some other identity, label, ideology, or issue other than Christ Himself.

An Example in My Own Life

Recently, I have battled many weeks of insomnia and have felt this overwhelming sense of exhaustion.

It has been so bad at times that extreme fatigue has been dominant in my thinking and feeling and approach to life.

I had joined myself to exhaustion and fatigue was now my master.

While this is absolutely nothing wrong with being physically or emotionally exhausted, joining myself to it and letting it govern and define me got me off course and disconnected from Christ.

Renouncing False Connections

So the second stage of death-recovery and return to spiritual vitality is to renounce and forsake this false joining, and to place this burden on Christ at the cross.

He bore the exhaustion of sin in my place and, when He died to sin’s fatigue  I died with Him there.

However tired I might be of body, through His cross I am severed from the reigning power of exhaustion and joined to a Person who is endlessly energized and vitally alive in perfect connection to God.

I entrust my exhaustion to Him, in other words, and exchange with with Him for its opposite that creates an encounter with His love for the weary and heavy-laden (Matt. 11:18-20).

Then, having been reconnected and rejoined to Him, I find “rest for my soul” and am freed from exhaustion’s mastery.

Connections Before Behaviors

We often ask a misleading question, “What wrongs are you doing?” and embark on a false quest of behavior improvement.

But the better, more revealing, more soul-helpful question is: “To whom or what are you the most connected right now?”

Safeguarding our connection to Christ, and gate-keeping against the development of other, false connections, is the supreme spiritual task confronting us.

On that issue everything rises or falls!

Whether its our marriages, our children’s spiritual welfare, the state of our own soul, the health of our churches, to what we are severed from and connected with at a spiritual-emotional-personal level is all revealing.

So, what are you connected to?

Who For?

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2015 by jcwill5

I love it when wise friend in Jesus reminds me “there’s more to it than that!”

Take my previous blog, for instance.

It’s satisfying to share a dream, to ask “What if?” and use that question to expose, even decry, “What is?”

But there’s a hidden fact behind American Evangelicalism’s current lostness, our current reactive traditionalism and idolatry-filled church culture.

It’s this:  you can’t replace something with nothing.

In the absence of holy intimacy with the Most High, people will choose unholy intimacy with an idol over no intimacy at all.

Where there is no friendship with God, we will soon cut a deal with the devil.

Where we have distanced ourselves from the Person of the Risen Lord, we will draw close to our fallen, sinful nature–our sin-monster within us.

Where we no longer look forward to everlasting fellowship and ultimate joy in heaven, we will sell out to the world super-system and demand immediate relief from sorrows and labor to make everything in life work out for us right now.

Where there’s a vacuum of good, something not good is going to fill it.

And if God Himself isn’t what keeps on filling our God-shaped whole, we will be compelled to fill it with all manner of idols, addictions, and deceiving evils that promise fulfillment but deliver bondage instead.

That’s why a better question that “What if?” is “Who for?”

For whom do we live?

For whom will we suffer and wait and labor and self-deny?

Who are we pursuing?

Who are we yearning most to be close to?

Who do we want to know and enjoy the most?

Jesus Himself said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Paul wrote, “I have counted all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.”

In other words, if the pursuit and enjoyment of God Himself isn’t happening, we have lost our way.

And soon, perhaps imperceptibly, we will begin to decay and be eroded in faith.

Human Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Our soul thirsts and innermost appetites will be unsatisfied.

We will embark on a quest for fulfillment outside of God and, though we maintain the same outward religious practices and personal habits, our heart will soon be far removed from God and given to something or someone else.

We will enter the world of experimentation, private indulgences, and hidden addictions that soon will grow and grow.

Our faith will turn into a brittle, rigid, merciless religiosity that masquerades as biblical faith.

We will begin to hide from each other and to use/abuse each other–making our community toxic and positively counterproductive to true faith.

God will be demoted into our personal genie, invoked to get us out of trouble and used to further our ego agendas.

We have not fallen away from morality.

We have not fallen away from spiritual success.

We have not fallen away from cultural supremacy or “most favored religion” status.

No, long before we quit church and withdrew fellowship and compromised our faith or even left the faith altogether, we drew away from Him and drew towards something else.

Apostasy is the child of a cooled love for Christ.

Perhaps it was because the suffering was too much, too often, too wounding and therefore wasn’t “worth it” anymore.

Perhaps it was because, with so many falling away, we were placed in a more and more lonely position until it was less painful to join the going-away party than continue with Christ.

The fact remains:   it is supremely painful when people we love greatly are separated from the One we love the most, and therefore separated from us as well.

The agony is unbearable and so is the tension.

All this gives apostasy a momentum of its own, growing from one to more to many to most.

If you are one of the formerly close but now distant from God, I’ll close by repeating the invitation of Christ to you:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”  (Rev. 3:20-22)

What if?

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2015 by jcwill5


What if we American Evangelicals who follow Christ didn’t follow the enemy’s script?

Starting at Home

What if we consistently and increasingly showed the onlooking world what Christ really looks like in our own communities?

What if they could see a holiness that isn’t sanctimony, a truth-telling that isn’t condemning, a grace that isn’t cheap whitewashing, a forgiveness that isn’t enabling, a love that isn’t hypocritical, a wealth that isn’t earthly prosperity, a suffering that isn’t self-pitying, a peace that isn’t circumstances-based, and a joy that isn’t faked and forced?

What if they saw us voluntarily confess sins publicly and openly repenting of group evils as we pursue a deeper intimacy with Christ?

What if our disputes were settled humbly, with turning the other cheek, with letting go of ego demands, with putting to death any feuding, bitterness, and secret animosity when we didn’t get our way?

What if we spoke life-giving, goodness-releasing, Spirit-prompted redemptive words into each other every time we gathered as communities?

What if we cheered each other on and believed in each other whenever the Spirit called us to do a ministry outside of our box?

What if, anytime someone in our ranks had a physical or emotional need, it was quickly met by the community?

What if, because of the sheer pleasure of Christ in us, our prayers for one another were more frequent, more heartfelt, more unified, and therefore more powerful to affect realities?

What, because of that, all of us could stop worrying about getting our own needs met and were therefore free to give ourselves whole-heartedly to meeting the needs of others?

What if, instead of leading closed and secret lives, we led free and open lives as God’s beloved instead?

What if we gained no moral elevation above others but kept speaking about how much we owe Christ and how grateful we are to Him for loving us as sinners who still frequently fail Him?

On the Road

What if, instead of requiring pre-believers to enter our church world and conform to our traditions before shared the Message with them, we entered into their world?

What if we quietly and personally Christ-loved individuals in our own neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, organizations, cities, and localities?

What if we were the best workers, the best citizens, the best neighbors and the least rebellious and complaining people, because all we do we do for Christ?

What if we were the ones who took the time to hear their life stories, take a genuine interest in their lives, and compassionately respond to their issue behind their issues?

What if our group adopted and loved for a long, long time unloved groups like low-income apartment dwellers, children in the foster care system, impoverished schools, etc.?

What if we abstained from public anger, public campaigning against, public denunciation, and political posturing?

What if we let go of every cultural issue, every human tradition, every societal cause, except Christ Himself and the gospel alone?

What if so many were brought to Jesus and were transformed by Him that we didn’t have to dispute with anyone whether or not Jesus changes lives?

The Call to Mission

I’ve painted a picture of authentic, New Testament, Acts 2 Christianity that has happened before and which can happen again.

But this picture is costly.

It will require us dying to our egos, our traditions, our personal and political agendas, our causes and pet issues, and our former position of prominence in society.

In other words, we will have to come to terms with the fact that the bygone days of Christendom are probably gone for good.

We will need to accept that the “home” base is no longer Christian but pagan.

We no longer have the luxury of pretending we aren’t missionaries, and pretending everything we say or do in a digital age either builds a wall against the gospel or builds a bridge for the gospel.

We will no longer have the luxury of pretending our churches are:

fortresses behind which we retreat and fire arrows,

sanctuaries within which we hide from God, ourselves, each other, and the onlooking world,

huddles within which we endlessly plan but do nothing,

social clubs where we endlessly cater to, pamper, and placate the whims of “the members”,

education centers within which we endlessly learn the Bible but never do it,

pep rallies within which we validate ourselves and brag how right we are, or

concerts within which we numb our pain and bliss out in euphoria.

All these perversions of church will need to be repented of as sin, grieved as idolatry, and forsaken as utterly false and evil.

The shocking truth is we have dispossessed Christ from His throne, perverted His church to carry out our own fallen purposes, and essentially told God and the world of lost people to go to Hell.

We need a massive, hard U-turn as soon as possible.

Which means we need to hear this truth, be pierced to the hearts by the Spirit, and ask Him in response, “What shall I do?”

Yes?  True? Agreed?

Strangers in Our Own Land

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2015 by jcwill5

I was speaking with a pastor friend the other day and we got into a discussion about culture.

Our Conclusions

We “lost” the culture wars 20 years ago (outside the Deep South).

Our culture is no longer Christian but very pagan and highly secular.

It no longer advantageous for non-committed people to pretend to be Christians.

Nominal Christianity isn’t worth it anymore–in fact, irreligion gets you the applause, not faith.

So the pews are emptying of nominal people, and our youngest, most culturally-shaped people are leaving as well.

Bible-believing, moral conviction-living Christians can expect to pay greater price tags in the coming days.

Christendom, the “God-and-Flag” position of Christianity as one of the dominant pillars of society, is finished as an approach to life and culture.

Civil religion–the quasi-Christian, vague, public allegiance to God seen in official ceremonies, holidays, public prayers, and marriage laws–is also finished.

Our Strange Excitement

The funny thing is neither of us sees this as a bad thing for the Church.

It’s not so great for our society, but, for Christ-followers, it could well be a godsend!

Willing or not, we’re being shifted by God towards a more relational, more under-the-radar, more First Century/New Testament approach to life, outreach, and faith.

We’re having to learn how to do Christianity the way our Third World brothers and sisters have done Christianity for many, many decades.

Strangers in Our Own Land

We’re being forced to think and operate as foreign missionaries in our own culture.

Instead of requiring people to enter “our world”–to dress differently, sing songs differently, vote differently, and live differently–before the hear the message of Jesus, we’re having to enter their world.

And when we enter their world and become insiders to other insiders, living a loving, inwardly serene and joyful life while living everyday life together among them, we build a bridge for the gospel.

Like our Christ who left heaven, we’ll be leaving our sanctuaries and cultural havens to incarnate and share the message of redemption, mercy, and deliverance from the tyrannical self, the corrupt system, and the real evil behind it all.

So, for all these reasons and more, my friend and I are happy to be alive at such a time, serve Christ at such a time, and embrace the return to New Testament Christianity at such a time.


Some reading these words might be appalled and consider us total idiots, even rank traitors against the faith, for seeing it this way.

They are hugely vested in the God-and-Country, majority religion status of yesteryear.

They cherish the public ceremonies where God is wrapped in the American flag.

They are conservators of tradition, and see former times as simpler, more righteous, and better.

They are angry at being disrespected, disregarded, and dismissed by the movers and shakers of our culture.

They are particularly angry that business leaders have deserted them on moral issues and made common cause with their cultural enemies.

(By the way, a lot of this anger is being taken out on fellow Christians and is causing much conflict within our congregations–compounding our loss of credibility, winsomeness, and evident love.)

They believe if we elect the right people, and win the right elections, and write and enforce the right laws, our moral/cultural decay will be arrested and reversed.

Then the Golden Age will return.

Or was it a Golden Age?  And will it ever really return?

Back to the Future

I don’t claim to know what the future will bring, but, curiously, our society is quickly becoming more and more like the Roman Empire of old or the capital city Pan-Em in The Hunger Games books.

And, yes, there were seasons of terrible persecution for the Church and many believers suffered greatly during the first 300 years of our existence.

But in a toe-to-toe contest with reigning paganism, it wasn’t even close.

The bankruptcy and despair of paganism for those at the bottom of society, its utter lack of compelling answers for suffering, meaning, and significance, soon led to a breakdown.

And the contrasting joy, peace, and solidness of Christians–even when suffering and dying for their faith–provided a compelling, winsome picture of real transformation, deliverance from evil, love beyond reason, and undying, unconquerable hope.

May we now do the same!

Love Isn’t the Answer

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2015 by jcwill5

I chose a provocative title to this blog because this word, love, is now being used to the reason to celebrate immoral evils.

If all we did was “love” people, the culture wars would be over, people would like Christians, we’d keep in step with progressing, evolving history, etc.

I say this because somehow this word has been degraded to mean nothing more and nothing less than a tolerant, no truth kind of enabling.

Requirements of Modern, No Rules Love

Love means never saying no to anyone else’s agenda or self-crafted identity.

Love means never calling anything or anyone wrong.

Love means making every kind of person and group feel “special” and never, ever doing or saying anything to make them ever feel bad.

Love means calling everything right, celebrating every choice, championing every self-identified group of “oppressed” people and vilifying and shaming every “oppressor” group.

In other words, this modern kind of “love” requires the outright justifying of sinful actions and words that break God’s heart and offend His holiness.

Paradise Lost and Hell Unleashed

A generation ago, the Beatles wrote as song “Love is All You Need”.

Reflecting the “make love, not war” generation, the word became a code word for a libertine, anything goes, no boundaries, no standards freedom from all rules and constraints.

Then a new kind of sexual paradise, a society without morals, roles, or rules, would emerge.

Life beyond “right and wrong” would be so much better.

Everyone would be blissful forever and ever.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

For millions of kids who were given no roles, no boundaries, and no effective moral guidance or even parental presence, the logical outcome of this philosophy in family life was a hell on earth for them.

I know. I was one of them.

And yet here we are again.

We are stuck with a fraudulent kind of love, a counterfeit, a mirage that satisfies no thirsts and which actually leaves people in the worst kind of bondage imaginable:  the bondage to self.

It’s a love that says to the person on the top of a cliff, “Go ahead and jump–be free!”

Meanwhile, those of us manning ambulances at the bottom of the cliff are calling up to the jumpers to stop and are being told we are to blame, are intolerant of their choices, and have no right to say what we say.

The True Love the Redeems

But there is a different kind of love, unique to God Himself and perfectly compatible with His truth, His laws, His will, and His most holy, unchanging character.

This kind of love does not celebrate evils, it overcomes and defeats them by transforming the evil-doer into a child of God.

This kind of love frees us from the tyranny of self, the bondage to our idols, and the misery of our sins.

This kind of love paid a terrible, terrible price on the Cross for all our sins–our specific, repeated, vast, and overwhelming violations of God’s truth, God’s standards, God’s holiness, and God’s laws.

This kind of love offers incredible compassion, enduring presence, tender kindness, and untold mercy.

Yet this kind of love, embodied in Jesus, also says “Go and sin no more!”

It acknowledges the reality of sin when if offers utter forgiveness to the morally guilty, total cleansing to the spiritually polluted, and heaven itself to the Hell-bound sinner.

This kind of love is the answer!


And until we repent of our false, counterfeit, modern perversion of love we call love, we will go down and down and down and down and down and down.

The euphoria at the top of our society’s sin cycle will soon end, the rainbows of immorality will soon fade, and we will enter an terminal stage of growing chaos, frenzied idolatry, and corrupted self-destruction.

The alternative is to admit we are collectively wrong and corporately turn from our wicked ways, and then look away from our selves to the One who truly loved us on the Cross.

If history is any guide, it will be a long, tragic wait before that ever happens….


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