Tag Archives: culture

Have You Ever Stepped on a Bindii?

My front yard doesn’t have any grass.  Well, there’s no grass that we have planted.  It is mostly dirt, and I like it that way because it is pretty maintenance free.  In my front yard I have planted some raised beds with fruits and vegetables.  Our family also has some flowers and shrubs and vines. It’s not much, but watering everything in this desert is time spent relaxing each day.

As I water, though, other things tend to sprout in our yard.  We get some grasses and dandelions.  We get some tumbleweeds.  We get some bindii.

Maybe you’ve never heard of bindii.  It’s also know by several other names: bullhead, cat’s head, devil’s eyelashes, devil’s thorn, devil’s weed, and goathead.

People that complain about stepping on legos have never stepped on a goathead.  These plants, once they have formed the thorny seeds, can poke through a flip-flop.  When you step on one barefoot you have to manually remove it from your foot.  They are excruciatingly painful.

goathead lego

The problem with goatheads is that they pop up randomly throughout the summer – all over the place – and they spread rapidly.  When the plants first appear they seem harmless enough, but by the time they have begun to produce pretty yellow flowers they are already thorny.

I have to admit I’m pretty lax in pulling weeds.  Every day I water the plants and see the goatheads.  Every day I think about how I need to pull them when I’m done.  I think about how easy it is to pull those new plants before they get painful and produce the devilish seeds, but i don’t.

This is what is happening in our churches. It is what is happening in Christianity all across our nation.  We have weeds of sin that sprout up in our lives and in the lives of those we love who share our faith in Jesus, but because of grace we sit back and ignore the consequences of leaving those sins not dealt with.

We are reaping the consequences now as we watch our nation of churches become more and more identical to the world around us.  We revel in our tolerance though we claim outrage when the world continues to spiral toward condemnation.

I believe in grace.  It is the single thing that I have been given that causes me joy beyond joy, but I understand that grace is not meant to be cheapened by my lackadaisical approach to sin in my life or in the lives of those around me.

Paul says, in Romans 6, that sinning because you expect grace is ridiculous and contrary to the nature of the commitment you made when you were baptized into Christ.  “We died to sin.  How can we live in it any longer?”

I am watching as our nation makes decisions that go against the foundation upon which it was established.  I truly am not surprised that a bunch of humanists would make those kinds of decisions.  What I am surprised at is how many faith-professing Christians are endorsing these decisions.  I am surprised at the boldness of Christians to live with blatant sins seemingly without conscience on those matters.  I am surprised that the church is not taking a stronger stand against the invasion of the world into the church.  I am surprised that public repentance is nearly non-existent in most churches.

There is a place and time to be culturally relevant, but a Christian and a church must not compromise morality (emulating Jesus) in order to do so.  We are not even able to condone the lifestyles of those outside the church that contradict the plan and natural order set up by God Most High (Romans 1:32).

The church is supposed to be a place where people can come from every lifestyle and find God, but it is not supposed to be a place that excuses a continuation of sinful behavior in the name of grace.  If you want life change through forgiveness come to Jesus.  If you want your conscience eased while you continue in your sinful ways look elsewhere.

We have watched as weeds of sinfulness have crept into our churches, and we have sat idly by as those weeds became thorns and seeded new growth.  It’s time to call it what it is: sin.  It is time for the church to repent.  It is time to come back to an understanding of the severity of sin and run from it like Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife.   It is time to get real with one another in love as we help each other be rid of the sins that imprison us.

It is time for the church to stop focusing on the nation coming back to its heritage and come back to our own heritage of emulating the One who lived a sinless life.  We will not achieve sinless perfection in this life, but that should not cause us to stop trying and make excuses for what we do.  Grace is not given where sin is not repented of (Hebrews 10:26).

Wake up church. Quit stepping on the bindii. Repent, so that God can pull the weeds from your life and you can walk fresh in Him again. Forgiveness is available, and grace is given, but repentance is required.


a-Moral Dilemma

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I have been a part of churches all my life. I have worshipped all over this country with various denominations and even experienced worship times with various faiths. In the Christian realms, however, there is a trend that isn’t catching on…it’s running full steam ahead through our church cultures.

This trend is to claim belief in God but live any way we want to live. It is a claim of faith but coupled with a self-indulgent lifestyle devoid of church attendance.

As a minister I cannot sit idly by and not say anything about this disease. If this is what we expect Christianity to be then Satan has won! We cannot claim belief in God and ignore what His word says. If you believe that God doesn’t care about how you live, then you believe in a God that you created. It is NOT the God of the bible. It is a human-invented creation. It will NOT save you.

I continually have conversations with people who profess deep belief in God yet are not a part of His church in any way. I meet people who are “Christians” yet live with their significant others in a very NOT-marriage relationship. I know Christians all over who publicly, through Facebook and Twitter and other social network sites, profess to have no issue with and even support those living lifestyles that are blatantly against the moral standard that God has set in His word. God’s word, the bible, clearly speaks against each of these things.

Friends, if you are a Christian but don’t even attempt to conform to God’s expectations for your life, then you are not a Christian.

A Christian is a Christ-Follower. A Christian values the words of God and seeks to live them the way Jesus lived them. Christians aren’t proud drunkards. Christians aren’t openly living with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Christians don’t actively encourage others to continue in their ungodly lifestyles. Christians aren’t disconnected from the church.

Christians are sinners who are trying to sin less. Sin is something they want to be rid of, not brag about. Sin is a very real thing in the life of a sinner. Sin is the reason they need Jesus. Sin is the reason I need Jesus. I cannot be a Christian apart from the church any more than a finger can live severed from the rest of a body.

I am not perfect, and I am sure you aren’t either. I receive the forgiveness of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Holy Spirit guides my life, but if I’m continuing to openly, unashamedly live a sinful lifestyle then I’m not following after the Holy Spirit. I’m following after my flesh, and that is easily influenced by the evil one. It’s even easier for the evil one to be in control when I’m not strengthened by the encouragement of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you’ve been living this kind of lifestyle then the good news is that Jesus offers new life today! Repent! Turn away from your sin and turn to God. Get involved in church. You won’t be perfect, but your heart turned toward Him is reflected by your actions. You’ll see change in your life, and others will too. And God honors that.

Jesus didn’t die so that we could continue to sin. He died so that He could show us the way out of this sin-led life, and He gave us his church to help us live the life He called us to through encouragement and fellowship. If you’d like to come back to Jesus in a real way, then I’d love to visit with you. You are invited and welcome to be a part of His family – it is not full of shame regarding the way you used to live – it is full of celebration that you left that life to live the life He intended for you to live all along.


Hats Off Please!

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I recently shaved my head…again. I’ve been bald several times over the last few years, and I like it. It is wonderful to not have to worry about bed head or the wind messing up my hair. I like to wear hats, so no hat hair, but I do have to watch the rings on my head after wearing hats.

It’s easy to maintain. There are no barber fees just the cost of shaving cream and razors. It’s almost therapeutic to shave each day. But I DO have to worry about sunburn.

I don’t like to wear sunscreen. There’s something about that lotion that makes my skin feeling oily, and I’ve never liked the feeling. The ones that don’t leave my skin oily leave it feeling silky smooth. I don’t like that either – I’ve always associated skin like that with women. Plus, I tan normally and don’t burn, so it’s ok, right? I know I should wear sunscreen, and now that I’m bald I am very careful about how I take care of my exposed scalp. When I’m not wearing sunscreen I make sure I’m wearing a hat.

There is one time, though that wearing a hat is a bit confusing. It is when I pray. Do I take it off or not? Why do people take their hats off during prayer? Where does this idea come from?

I’m pretty sure it comes from 1 Corinthians 11:4

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.

On the outset it looks like this is exactly speaking of wearing hats during prayer or not. However, verse three gives a bit of context that is necessary for understanding verse four.

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Here in verse 3 the writer, Paul, defines who/what the head is. The head of man is Christ. Then he talks about covering the head. If verse three was written elsewhere then verse 4 could be easily explained as speaking of physical head coverings. But Paul gave a definition then used the terminology he just defined in the next verses. Verse 4 could read that “every man who prays or prophesies with Christ covered dishonors Christ.”

So, are we to pray without our hats or not? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us we should “pray without ceasing”. Seems to me that prayer time is not determined by our physical circumstances. God lives in us and not a temple. Therefore physical environments such as removing a hat cannot keep our prayers from reaching the Father.

Even though it may not be a problem to take off our hats during prayer time, there is still a large part of Christian culture that believes this should be done. Many people are taught in military and in other cultural circumstances that there are times to take off your hat to show respect. Even though taking your hat off during prayer is probably not what 1 Corinthians 11 is talking about, when with a group it is best to do it out of respect for those around you.

We have freedom in Christ. God is everywhere – especially in our hearts. Hats don’t stop that, but in all things respect for those around you shows love for them.

1 Corinthians 10:23
“Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.


Parents, Please Read Part Two

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It’s that time of year again, time for the yearly – as I heard one mom recently call it – “bikini battle”.

Last week, when we were on our camping trip, I took our group to Pedernales Falls State Park. We explored around the falls in the morning, then went over to the swimming area after lunch. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, and the temperature was over 80°. For early march this was above normal for the hill country of Texas, but we were enjoying it.

On the way to park at the trailhead that leads down to the swimming area we had our own “bikini battle”.

I had already declared that anyone who had a bikini would have to wear a t-shirt over it while they swim for modesty’s sake. Then I was asked about tankinis. If you’re not familiar with that – it’s a more modest bikini. Then I was asked if the guys could go without shirts. Finally the decision was made – if one group has to wear a t-shirt, then the rest of the group can wear them to make it fair to everyone.

I got a mild groan out of that decision.

It wasn’t long before we were strolling down the trail to the water where everyone had a great time. We waded the rapids. We splashed and dunked each other. We even swam, and everyone had a grand time. I didn’t hear one complaint from anyone about having to wear a t-shirt. They were having too much fun to care.

Every year I question whether or not this battle is worth fighting. Sure, I can control their modesty when they are with me, but they are going to go to the beach with their friends, and who knows what they’ll be wearing then?!

Parents, this article is primarily for you. You still have these kids living in your home. You. Have been given the right by God Himself and the responsibility to guide your children in all areas of their life as they continue to develop the ability to make good choices.

Our culture has pushed sex and the sexualization of the human body to limits beyond what is healthy. When our teens are looking for swimsuits to wear at the beach and other places their mind goes to “what will make me look hottest”?

Parents, if you have a teenage boy, the statistics show that he has probably seen pornography, and now more than ever, the chances show he may even be addicted. If he has access to mobile Internet on an iPhone, iPad, or android phone then the chances of him accessing pornography on a regular basis go up.

There have been a couple of times over the last year or so when I went up to a teenager and simply said “when are you going to quit looking at the porn?” I didn’t know whether or not they were, but I knew that the chances said they were. In each case the teen didn’t deny it. In fact, their demeanor changed as if it was a weight that had been lifted that an adult finally knew.

I talk about guys and pornography (female viewing or porn is on the rise as well) because it changes the way they view our daughters. If your daughter is wearing something that shows more skin than it covers up, then what do you think is going on in the mind of these boys? Most bikinis cover less than the normal underwear that a girl would wear. They won’t go out in public in their underwear, but they’ll go out in a bikini.

When our girls are scantily clad they are sending a message about who they are. It sends the message that sexuality is prevalent in their thinking. It sends the message that they are interested in guys drooling over their bodies. To many guys it sends the message that they are an easy score. I’m not even going to talk about the fact that the teen guys aren’t the only ones that see them. What about the sexual predator that is on the same each or at the same lake. That reason sees your daughter as well.

My daughter knows our rules about modesty in swimwear, and she doesn’t fight it. She knows we are doing it so that her inner beauty is shown more brightly. We don’t even let her wear pants with words on the buttocks because we don’t want attention to be drawn to that area. She doesn’t wear tight fitting clothing.

One teen girl magazine tried to help its readers see this recently with an article that declared that boys think that. “modest is hottest”. I appreciate the effort of this magazine, but I don’t even want my daughter to be regarded as “hot” because it’s a sexual term. Sure, I’m a protective father, but I love my daughter and want her future husband to know that she was kept pure. I want him to know her for her inner beauty and not be focused on her outer beauty.

When the inner beauty is the focus, then the relationship lasts much longer.

This isn’t just a suggestion from me, a dad and youth minister. It is a directive from the apostle Paul to his young preacher, Timothy. I Timothy 2:9 says, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…” Paul doesn’t want homes to dress like prostitutes. If you look at the trends, many women today go to church on Sunday wearing less than prostitutes did in the days of Jesus.

Let’s start a trend of modesty.

Mothers and fathers, may you set the standards for your children in the area of modesty. May they be raised to have a healthy self-image that sees that they really are beautiful, and they don’t need to dress a certain way to show that. May you help them overcome pornography and it’s influences – even the pornography that is on television and in movies. And may the generations coming up change the direction of the sexualization of America.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other issue, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can comment on this article directly at http://www.mrdobbs.org where I keep all my articles. God bless you, and have a great week!


Do You Approve of the Disapproval?

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We are all very opinionated people. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t feel strongly about at least a few things they are involved in.

Maybe you are passionate about your opinion of politics. Maybe you are passionate about the environment. Maybe you are passionate about whether or not it is ethical to use live bait for fishing (yes, there are some strong opinions out there about this).

Whatever our opinions, we tend to actively try to persuade others that our opinion is not only valid, but right. In fact, I’m writing this column in the “opinions” section of the Matagorda Advocate. Of course, my opinion is right, and you should heed my words. See what I mean?

Mass media has been actively trying to persuade us to take on different opinions about various topics through the years. If you believe in global warming, then it is not because there is good science supporting it. The biggest supporters of global warming are government agencies and mass media.

Our culture in which we live also persuades us. If we spend enough time around a group of people we tend to think the way the group thinks. It’s sad, actually, because we as people give up our right and ability to think for ourselves when we succumb to such influence.

Over the years, the influence of culture has changed the minds of the masses – even the masses in the church. For example, when I was born, the “d” word and the “c” word were absolutely forbidden. When I was a teenager, they were commonplace on the television and in movies, and they became more commonplace in the language of the Christians I was around. Then, as television adopted the “a” word, it has become culturally acceptable. Many people are still holding out, but an entire society has changed its mind about the severity of these three words because of the influence of popular culture.

One of the things that concerns me as I look at the state of the church around the nation is the change in the church’s perception of sin.

Within the last ten years I have seen a trend in teaching shift from dealing with the hard issues of sin and it’s consequences to become more about love and peace and non-threatening topics. Because of this shift there has been a loss in the church’s understanding of the severity of sin.

The other night I listed 48 sins for my teenagers to rate in terms of the severity of the action or thought. For about 20 minutes I had to explain what several of these sins even meant. Then, as I looked at the lists they had ranked, many of the teens listed several of the items as “not a sin”. When we start talking about these sins and pointing them out in public we get attacked as hateful from every side. So, we shrink back and hold it in.

What I’ve noticed is that the generations coming up do not understand what many sins are. They do not understand how the scripture places equal consequence on each sin – “the wages of [all] sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Each day I see teenagers that actively sin. But what concerns me even more in the masses of the church as a body is the acceptance given by the church to others who actively sin. I see people singing songs about being drunk. I see people posting about sex and drugs and homosexuality on their Facebook posts. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see them say “I am in 100% support of Insert sin here“.

Romans 1 says this: “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Not participating in a certain sin is important, but in this passage we see that we are called to go beyond mere action. It says we aren’t acting right when we not only do the sins but also when we approve of others who are doing those sins. If you’re wondering what kind of sins are being talked about read Romans 1. There’s a pretty good list there.

We approve of things with our words. We approve of things with our money when we buy, or rent, or give money to them. We approve of things with our actions when we stay in places or do things that show support of something immoral.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we shouldn’t support the people that are sinning. What we can’t do is support the sin. This is difficult though, because our culture has equated the sin with the sinner, so if you disapprove of one you are perceived as rejecting the other. I do not approve of alcoholism, but there are many people that I love that struggle with this sin.

It’s time for a change. It’s time for a cleansing. It’s time for a refocusing of the morality of the church.

May you be the kind of person who initiates this change in your life. As we work together we can once again be a people who actively pursues God and all things righteous. As we fudge our morals the Adversary move closer in to our lives.

I’m praying for this in my life and yours as well. Please pray too that God will cleanse us and refocus us through His Holy Spirit as we recommit our character to being in submission to his good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives.

If you’ve never given your heart to Christ in the first place, then you still have sin in your life. That sin separates you from God in a severe way. You need the healing that can only come through the blood of Christ. If you’d like to know more about having a relationship restoration with God, then feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. I will not chastise or ostracize you. Jesus invites you. He’s re-inviting his church as well. God bless you all as you refocus on what’s needed.


This IS My Sunday Best

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Do you like traditions? Some traditions are good and useful, but I enjoy finding those traditions that have need for change and addressing them.

I see some traditions like the daughter who always cut the ends off her roast before putting it in the oven. One day she finally wondered why she was doing it. So asked her mother, but her mother simply said, “that’s the way my mother always did it.” So they went to the grandmother. The grandmother chuckled and said, “my oven wasn’t big enough for the entire roast, so I had to cut the ends off to get it to fit.”

The daughter had been a part of a tradition that was no longer useful nor was it relevant.

Do we have traditions in our churches such as this today? Yes we do. In fact, new obsolete traditions pop up every year as cultures change. The trick is making sure we understand what is a tradition and what is scripture. Many people raise the traditions to the level of scripture and err in doing so.

If you are handy with Google search, you can find out what happened about 150 years ago. Before the industrial revolution there were basically two classes: the haves and the have nots. The haves were able to afford the nicer clothing due to the fact that everything was being made by hand to that point. The have nots had to settle with usually two outfits per person. One they wore to work and the other they wore to town. There was little difference in the style of these articles of clothing. One was simply cleaner than the other.

The haves would wear their nice clothes especially in public to make sure that there was a difference between them and the have nots. It was a status issue. This practice crept into the churches and there was still much division within the family of God as the two classes were still being encouraged through dress and action within the walls of the churches.

Then came the industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class.

With the invention of the Spinning Jenny, clothes manufacturing became less tedious and therefore more affordable to this middle class. More and more people had access to nicer clothes. The upper class began to push the lower classes to conform to their practice of wearing their nicer clothes to the Sunday assemblies. This idea was resisted for several years.

Finally, around 1850, the last of the denominations began to accept and practice this idea of coming to the assembly dressed to the hilt. The term “Sunday best” was coined shortly thereafter, and the rest is history.

Today we still have many people in churches as well as many church leaders who think that dressing your best on Sunday is the only proper way to attend. In this culture, however, people are dressing up less and less. Even business men and women are dressing more casually. The days of dressing to the nines are gone. It was merely a tradition, and a relatively recent one at that.

In the church what this does is continue the mindset of the haves and the have nots. I have known several people who do not attend worship anywhere for fear that the “don’t have anything nice to wear”. What a shame!

In 1 Corinthians there was an issue of the haves not treating the have nots as equal, and it came to a head concerning the Lord’s Supper in chapter 11. The haves could get to the assembly quicker because of horses and the like, but the poor had to come from the edges of the area and on foot. The rich would go ahead and feast at the supper, but when the poor got there no food was left.

If we continue this idea of “Sunday best” in our churches we harbor that same attitude distinguishing between the classes. Church is supposed to be a collective of unity. God does not show favoritism. God was fine with David dancing in his underwear before God. Where was his Sunday best? God didn’t seem to care.

In Joel 2:13, God says, “Rend your heart and not your garments.” God is more interested in your heart and attitude than he is in how you dress. If you have nice clothes, then church is for you. If you don’t have nice clothes then church is for you too. In fact, how awesome would it be if those that are haves dressed down a bit just so they could show their desire to commune with those that have less.

I know of churches that do just that. They minister to homeless and other poor, and the leaders dress down to keep from flaunting their wealth before the poor. It’s an attitude of acceptance and unity.

Remember, as long was your heart is totally dedicated to God, then no matter what you wear, you are in your Sunday best.

May we be a people who promote unity in our churches as we love each other no matter what they wear. May we humble ourselves a bit – remembering that Jesus, the King of kings, humbled himself and became a man…just like us.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this, please feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. God bless you!


Freed Men Living Like Slaves

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Culture is changing rapidly. It used to be that the technology we use was the fastest thing changing in our culture, but I see that the ways we talk and act are keeping in step with the pace of technological change.

Churches, too are changing, though most church leaderships do not want to admit it or do what it takes to address the change.

The thing that alarms me most, however is that the culture of the lives of Christians looks almost exactly like the culture of the lives of non-Christians.

I spend a lot of time on social media and talking to people of various Christian faiths throughout my week. As I interact in those various places I hear and read as much profanity as I would expect from the world. I see the same negative attitudes. There is just as much alcohol abuse and drug addiction. The divorce rate is the same as that of the world. Disrespect is just as rampant.

Why is this? I think it has to do with a couple of definitions that have been skewed over the years.

The first is “Christian”. It is a word that has come to mean anyone who professed a belief that Jesus is the savior. This is NOT the biblical case. A Christian is supposed to be a Christ-follower. The scripture says that even the demons “believe”, and they even tremble at the thought. We claim belief, and so many of us don’t even give it a second though much less have any emotional or intellectual feeling about it.

The next definition that has been morphed over time is the word “grace”. Grace is a gift given to someone who doesn’t deserve that gift. It is paired with “mercy” which is not getting the negative consequences that we deserve. Our society has taken this idea and soaked it in to the point that it has become a license to live just like the world. This is completely different than the idea that Jesus presented. He wanted to make sure that we lived in the world, but he wanted us to look nothing like the world. Jesus never promised you happiness. He never promised you peace. In fact, he said he didn’t come to bring peace.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul makes a statement that is mentioned twice in that book: “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (6:12; 10:23). The idea behind this is that we can do all those things, and we will be able to be forgiven of those deeds, but that doesn’t mean they are good nor should we do them.

I can cuss a blue streak, and I can probably be forgiven of that sin, but the path of destruction left in the wake of my tirade is a much longer lasting consequence than I should have caused.

In the book of Hebrews, the writer reminds us that anyone who knows the good he or she ought to do, and doesn’t do it sins.

We are called in Romans 6 to be done with the life of sin. Completely. Totally. Holistically. Done.

What the culture of the church has done, however, is cuddle up with sin as its marriage partner. Jesus made it pretty clear that you must choose your bridegroom. Jesus is not willing to be in a relationship with us where we are living as his bride on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, but we are cheating on him with our girlfriends Selfishness and Sin.

Church, it’s time for a wake-up call. It’s time for the church to rise up and show the world what it means to truly be forgiven for good. We need to show the world the saving grace of Jesus that heals us of our hang-ups and addictions. We need to show the world that Jesus truly is the Master of our lives.

It has been said that the whole world is a slave of sin, but we who are in Christ have been set free from slavery to sin. It’s time to stop living like we are still slaves. You are free! Live in the freedom that comes from living the life God has called you to.

There is much work to be done. Would you join with me In praying that this church culture can change so that the world can be turned upside-down? Would you also pray, as I do, that the change would begin in each one of us?

Thanks. God bless you. And if you need anything, as always, you may contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611.


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