H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Friday, July 29, 2005
Moise Amyraut was a seventeenth century French theologian who had a problem with Calvin's understanding of limited atonement. I mention Mr. Amyraut because my dear friend Bryan, over at theology, Doctrine, Theology, and all that Jazz has been razzing me suggesting that I do not hold to the doctrine of limited atonement, and am in fact an Amyraldian.

I, most certainly, am *not* however.

The sheep, figuratively spoken of by Jesus in John 10:1-5, hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him because they *belong* to Him. To understand this fully, one must understand that at the time that Jesus gave this example, it was customary for a shepherd to bring his flock into a sheep fold for the night. There his flock would mingle freely with the sheep from other flocks, and soon his flock was entirely mixed in with the sheep who were already in the fold at the time that his sheep came into the fold. When the shepherd came back to get his own sheep, he would call to his sheep - and they would came to him - they themselves were already his sheep, and hearing his voice they would separate themselves from the other sheep in the fold and answer their master's voice. They didn't do so until they heard their Master's voice - nor did they become sheep by hearing his voice - the only reason they responded to the voice of the Shepherd is because they already belonged to the shepherd. This pictures how God's call works - the sheep already belong to Christ (the elect) and that is *why* they respond to Christ's call. Christ associates Himself in this example as the good shepherd - that He and He alone is the one through whom the sheep come and go out of the fold - and that He, being the good Shepherd dies - not for all the sheep in the fold - but only for His own flock. The Pharisees, to whom He was speaking, Christ likened to sheep that were not of His flock - explaining *why* the Pharisees didn't respond to his call (that is to say, why the Pharisees didn't believe).

Likewise in Acts 20:28 Paul (in instructing the elders at Ephesus to shepherd the church of God) remarks that this same church was purchased with "His [Christ's] own blood." In Ephesians 5:25 Paul says that Christ gave Himself up ...for the church. Jesus Himself made a distinction in His so called high-priestly prayer (John 17:9) between those whom God gave to Christ, and the world.

From passages like these I conclude that Jesus didn't come to atone for everyone - but rather to atone for the elect whom He foreknew and had determined to redeem before man had fallen - indeed - before the world was ever created.

Notwithstanding, I fail to conclude from this that God loves only the elect, or that God’s love for the elect differs in quality from his love for all mankind. There is no suggestion or evidence in scripture that God’s sovereign decision to elect is based upon a superior love for the elect. God’s love for the world is genuine and his offer of salvation is made in earnest to all mankind. But scripture says that all mankind reject this same offer - that no one comes to the Father, except through Jesus Christ. Thus no man of himself comes to God - all reject God.

The result therefore is that while I hold firm to the doctrine of “Limited Atonement” – I do not do so in such a way that the offer of atonement is made to all mankind, but the atonement is limited to the elect. God offers salvation to all, and all reject it; but God only provides atonement for those who are going to be saved - that is, only to the elect.

Moise Amyraut, that 17th century theologian, suggested that Christ’s sacrificial death provided a “hypothetical” atonement for everyone – that is, the atonement was for no one in particular and was offered indiscriminately to everyone – but since everyone unanimously rejected the atonement, it was given only to the elect, who were elected in spite of the fact that they would reject the atonement otherwise. His logic falls apart however because if the atonement was provided for all, then all must be atoned for -- whether they come to Christ or not!

My take is not like Amyraut’, but I suspect I am driven by the same understanding that he had - that is, I believe that God’s offer of salvation is universal and seek to couple this with my understanding that Christ provided atonement for His church and only His church.

So in formulating a cohesive model of how this might work, I have separated the atonement from God’s offer of salvation, such that God’s offer of salvation was made to all, and rejected by all - had even one person in all of history come to God of his own free will who knows what the atonement model would look like. Rather than speculate, I choose to stick to what is revealed. Atonement was not offered to those who came to God for salvation, because no one came. As universal as the offer for salvation is - it is just as universally rejected.

God however, in His infinite mercy, determined beforehand to atone for some of mankind. Those whom God predestined to be with Him God elected unto salvation - they are the sheep who answer Christ's call, not in order to become elect, but because they are already elect. Not because of their own merit - they are sinners and deserve hell as much as anyone else - but because God has ordained it so - they respond to that ordination, and come to Christ. Left to their own, they would never come to Christ - but chosen by God - and it is only for these and these alone that God the Father provided the atonement (Jesus Christ).

Therefore when we offer salvation to a sinner, we giving them God’s genuine offer of salvation – though only the elect will ever answer God’s voice, the offer is legitimate for all.
posted by Daniel @ 11:52 AM   0 comment(s)
Thursday, July 28, 2005
You ever have one of those days?
Have you ever had one of those days where you are riding your mountain bike home after a long day at work, and some lady drives her van into you?

Me too, yesterday.

First, let me say, that if you have to be nailed by a motor vehicle while riding your bike, mini vans are the way to go.

I should mention that the accident falls perfectly in line with God's will for my life. As an avid cyclist (I have over 1000 miles put on this summer), I am often tempted to behave as other cyclist on the road - that is, I prefer to slow down for stop signs, rather than come to a complete stop - and on occasion have even sailed through a four way stop sign when I see that no cars are there. I have been under conviction about this, and have been making a point to stop for every stop sign - no matter how inconvenient and arresting to my momentum it may be.

As it happens the accident took place in an intersection - I was traveling eastbound and she was traveling southbound, wanting to turn west (right) on her red light. Her attention was therefore on the westbound traffic, and she didn't see me. She was slowing down as she was approaching the intersection (having a red light), and looked as though she saw me, so I rode into the intersection to cross the street. At that moment there was a break in traffic, and she determined it was a good time to make her right turn. Splat!

It was over in less than a heartbeat. The impact took me on the left shoulder, forearm/elbow, ribs, and thigh, and striking all places at once, the force of the impact was thankfully spread out enough that I didn't break any bones. I was up and on my feet before the driver was out of her van. She was far more worried that I was, but I assured her that I was fine. The bike took it harder than I did, I will likely have to replace some parts on it.

Now, had I been a little more attentive to the conviction of the Lord, this would not have happened. I know that legally I should not be on the sidewalk - but as it is one of the "non-enforced" laws I was ignoring it - having convinced myself that it was okay (in hindsight I marvel that I could suffer myself to be so deceived on this point). So when it happened, I immediately understood that as many as God loves he chastens and rebukes.

When the Lord puts his hand on you for correction - you just know it. All you who have been so corrected will testify - the world might say this or that was chance - but you know deep in your innermost self that God has allowed this very thing to get your attention.

So I couldn't help but praise and thank God for it! Here I was -a sinner- and God who lovingingly had given me ample conviction (which I allowed myself to ignore) in His profound mercy allowed me to reap some of what I was sowing. Did I learn my lesson? The goodness of God leads a man to repent - I rode to work this morning, and I stopped everywhere I was supposed to.

Praise the Lord!
posted by Daniel @ 8:41 AM   3 comment(s)
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Blog Spot Strumpets

Phil Johnson's blog (pyromaniac) over at phillipjohnson.blogspot.com is a fun read. I don't spend a lot of time there, but I like to flip through his blog spotting section when he posts them. This is just a collection of links to people who either mention Phil or something Phil said or wrote in their own blogs. I like the eclectic nature of those lists, it makes for fun surfing.

I find the material at the other end of some of these links is sometimes well thought out and articulate, and whether the author agrees with Phil or not at least he or she is able to express himself or herself with a civil dignity that befits the medium. On the other hand there are many blog spot whores - or, as I prefer to say, blog spot "strumpets." This variety of "blog spots" amuse me because I am the sort of person that finds shameless pandering amusing. They are sort of a cross between band groupies and little children who cry out "look at me, look at me" everytime they go off the diving board. This is no reflection upon the individuals - except for the distinction between being blog spotted because you have something to say, and being blog spotted because you want to be adored for your dive.

One of the fun things about the blog spotting is the graphics. Phil has a good sense of color balance - I am no expert - but I like that he generally sticks to the primary colors.

I say this because when I saw the above image - the king snake ("Lampropeltis Pyromelena" - and maybe it was the pyro thing - maybe just the colors - I am not sure) I immediately thought of Phil's images, and with tongue firmly in cheek I determined to make a quick homage post today just for fun.

I like the fire truck thing too, but I had to look for that.

posted by Daniel @ 3:45 PM   0 comment(s)
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Why do we obey God?
This is in answer to a question asked elsewhere: Are are deeds like filthy rags or what?

Isaiah 64:6 tells us not that our "deeds" but rather our "righteousnesses" or if you prefer to keep the deed thing - our "righteous deeds" are as filthy rags in the eyes of God.

When we think that through, God is saying that the best of our best is still not righteous enough. He isn't saying our every day swill is like a dirty rag - rather he is saying the very best any of us has to offer by way of obedience is to him an "unclean" thing.

How then can we please God? Our knee jerk reaction is to "obey the law" - certainly we know that when we obeyed our own parents there was praise and not punishment - but Jesus tells the parable of the servant who works all day, comes in after his day of work, but still has to wait on his master until his master is fed and satisfied - then the servant is allowed to look after his own needs. Christ taught that this same servant was not worthy of praise, but was doing exactly what was expected of him.

Likewise, if we are perfect in our obedience we will have only done what is expected of us - and we will not have done anything worthy of praise.

How then, I ask again, do we please the Lord?

Scripture tells us that we are accepted by God in the Beloved (that is, those who are in Christ are pleasing to God because they are in Christ - and not because of their own efforts.)
There are ways for us to be "not" pleasing to God - certainly without faith it is impossible to believe God, we have to believe that God is whom He says He is, and we have to believe that God gives of Himself to those who seek Him diligently.

We cannot fellowship with God however, if we are fellowshipping with sin, and there is no relationship with God outside of holiness. So in order to have fellowship with God we walk in the light as He is in the light (God certainly isn't going to walk in darkness just so that we can fellowship with Him!).

So Christian's are obedient because they love God and want to fellowship with God. Knowing that God cannot fellowship with those who practice and embrace their sin - Christians begin a life of repenting, and in so doing God sanctifies them - just as we might cleanse a dish before we eat off of it, so too God sanctifies us through continued repentance so that eventually He can fellowship with us. The purpose of our obedience is not propitiatory - that is, we do not appease God by obeying Him, the purpose of our obedience is a desire to fellowship with God. The bible calls that desire "love" - and as many as truly love God, the same obey God. Not out of compulsion to fear God - but out of a desire to truly know and fellowship with God.
fear might make a man obey in the flesh - but love can make a man want to obey - that is, to worship God not just with his hands, but in spirit and in truth - such is God seeking to worship him.

So yes, our righteousness is as filthy rags indeed, but praise the Lord, our righteousness has nothing to do with pleasing God, we please God by our faith. When we understand this, we begin to turn from our works as a means of pleasing God, and start to receive freely what we were trying to earn beforehand.
posted by Daniel @ 10:03 AM   0 comment(s)
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Our church this year, this week in fact, is (for the first time) hosting a daily vacation bible school. As a member of our church leadership and the chair of the Christian Education Committee - not to mention the father of two of the children who will be attending - it was a forgone conclusion that I would "volunteer" my time to this ministry.

I will say outright, that I do not feel comfortable dealing with unparented children. When I say "unparented" I am referring to that growing percentage of children who are being brought up more by society than by their own natural parents. This is of course a sad reflection upon our times. That Post Modern mindset that seems to have gripped the first world has taught the secular world to tolerate poor parenting. Surely it isn't the parents fault - the parents are "victims" who "have no choice" in the matter. Society has handed them a poor job, or a bad marriage - the excuses that justify allowing television, daycare and public school to rear this generation of children are many, but are they valid?

Of not, one particular family brought their children to the VBS, and in one night the youngest son (five years old) ran away from his group - found a knife in the kitchen, and proceeded to find a lemon in the kitchen, and trying to cut it, ended up cutting his own hand. The lad had no boundaries or understanding of boundaries. He walked away from every single activity, paying attention to none - and towards the end of the evening - after pulling the fire alarm (no less), he continuously tried to run out of the church building. His older sisters were no better. The eldest of the three was perhaps the best behaved - she was only disinterested and difficult, having no real interest in what was going on. The middle child, a girl, shared the same disinterest, but made a point of going into the woman's washroom and making a deliberate (and near impossible) mess there. Later she too left her group to roam about the church - running through the sanctuary and leaping over pews, before trying also to run from the church building.

Now, praise the Lord! These kids need to be there - it is for such as these that we put on the bible school. But I confess, were I obedient to my flesh in this matter, I would be a hundred miles away!

We did well enough, and the next day (yesterday) was much better. (I suspect that it was because there was --much-- prayer that night for this particular family!) The middle girl was "medicated" and the young boy was given one on one attention all night. They were like a different family! Different in the sense that they were not "crazed" seeming. They were not quite as disrespectful as they had been the day before, and perhaps a little less disinterested.

I believe my gifting is primarily a speaking gift - that is, teaching, preaching, and leadership. My "comfort zone" (Oh, how I loathed to use hackneyed psycho-babble of this church age!) does not include working with unparented children (have I mentioned that?).

Anyway, my role in this VBS is sort of the "drama" guy - that is I put on a different topical skit every day. The skits are all scripted out, but frankly, I haven't bothered to memorize them, but have read them through to get the gist of what is supposed to be being taught, and I just go with the group and the moment and see where it takes us. I have had fun with it - and having my own penchant for being a class clown, I love to ham it up. The first night we were doing the scene where the angels come down and speak to the shepherds (who were keeping watch over the flocks by night.) My first line was "Don't be afraid" - the kids were "recruited" to be angels and help me deliver the message. To make it informative, we were to sneak up on the shepherds and listen in to their conversation, and when they ran out of script I was to deliver my line and tell them of the birth of Christ. So I made a big show of preparing the children - "These shepherds have never seen an angel before, and they will likely be terrified, so we have to be very careful not to freak them out too much" etc. Then we led the kids into a darkened Sunday school room where the shepherds were sitting around a pretend fire acting - the kids had flashlights (We called them "angel lights"), and we all snuck in so quietly - once or twice I reminded them that we have to be careful not to "over-scare" the shepherd's. When the time came to deliver my line, I turned the lights on and jumped into the midst of them, and while I towered over them the most imposing posture I could muster, I demanding of them in a suddenly exaggerated and booming voice that they "not be afraid." The effect was quite comical - the guys were not expecting me to jump at them like I did, so I got some genuine reflex cringing from them, and it was comically obvious to all the children that in spite of my apparent concern for the sanity of these shepherds, in reality I was doing everything I could to frighten them to death.

It went over well with the kids - five seconds of uncontrolled laughter, put the kids at ease for their part - delivering the message with me to these shepherds about the child that was born in a manger.

Anyway, the point is as much as I didn't want to enjoy the time - as much as I felt in my flesh that I didn't want to be there, I had a great time - what can I say? I love the Lord, and -any- opportunity to minister ends up being awesome.
posted by Daniel @ 10:19 AM   0 comment(s)
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
A quick thought on parables.
There are some in the church who think that Jesus used parables to help explain complex truths. I would even venture to say there are many who imagine such. But we see in scripture that the parables were not told to enhance or explain the truth - but rather to obscure it - so that seeing they might not see and hearing they might not hear.

It sort of befuddles me then, when I see some in the church attempt to make up their own parables as "teaching tools" in ministry. In this case, imitation may be flattering, but it certainly isn't helping any!
posted by Daniel @ 2:42 PM   0 comment(s)
Gluttony - a real sin!
In April of this year, my doctor suggested that I lose some weight.

Can you imagine? Sure, my BMI was into the "obese" range, but frankly I am of a larger frame than most - even if I am somewhat diminutive in stature (5' 8") . As a member of our church leadership team, and as a deacon in the church - not to mention the father of three, and otherwise active member of both the church and my own family - I could not fathom the idea that I would have the time to exercise. Was it my fault that my job (a computer programmer) was a sedentary one?

Well, the sad reality is that I wasn't obese because my job was sedentary, nor was I obese because I was a good father or deacon. I was obese because I ate too much - in biblical terms, I was a glutton.

We don't like to use that word these days. Surely in the world of fattening foods and growing commitments, one can hardly blame a sedentary person for their portly posture? But I considered my own heart the moment I thought about losing weight. Never once did the idea of restricting my food intake enter into my head - that particular scenario was off limits. I had a right to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.

So like most people in denial about their gluttony, I harbored a genuine concern for my health with regards to the weight that I was carrying around - and so rather than restrict my eating habits, I looked into exercising. I decided to get a bike and ride it to work each day, five days a week (About 19 miles a day or so) - this would surely cause me to begin dropping pounds like crazy.

However, after the first week of effort, I was quite exhausted, and had lost hardly one pound of weight. It was at this point that I actually looked into how much work one had to do in order to both lose and gain a pound. The numbers work out like this: In order to gain a pound of fat, one needs to consume 3500 more calories than the body needs. In my case, consulting height and weight tables, I knew that I could safely consume about 2000 calories a day without putting on any additional weight. That worked out to like, a small breakfast, a tasteless lunch, and perhaps a child's portion of a half decent supper. If I were to say, drop into McDonalds at sometime during that day and order say, two big Macs, a large fries, and a large shake - (a total of around 3400 calories) - I could put on a pound of fat in just one day!

Losing a pound of fat however was something different altogether. For my weight and height, I would have to jog for eight and a half hours to lose one pound of fat.

I considered that carefully. One McMeal = 8.5 hours of physical punishment...

That was when I realized that I was never, ever going to lose weight through exercise alone, and it was at this point that I understood how much of a glutton I had been in the past.

You see, as I alluded to earlier, I didn't even consider reducing the amount of food I ate - not for a minute. Yet when I looked at the numbers I knew that I could not lose weight any other way.

At first I tried to get around the facts - you know, I could diet and lose a bunch of weight (Or better yet, have a "holy", yet ever so convenient fast....), but the more I considered it, the more I began to see that I was avoiding the real problem - that I simply and consistently was eating too much.

Scripture says that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. I don't think that Jesus was referring specifically to me in this instance, but something happened when I admitted to God that I was a glutton - I mean, I had done it many times before, but never in repentance - it had always been lip service. But this time I understood that I was a real glutton, and that I needed to repent of it just as one repents of any sin.

So I did.

It has only been nine weeks now, but I have lost 26 pounds in that time. I stayed away from all the fad diets and simply began to eat less of what I normally eat (and even started eating some healthy things) and began to exercise daily. The weight started coming off immediately!

Now, being a programmer, I am a numbers kind of a fellow, so I examined the weight I was losing - was it water? Real fat? ..Gulp... muscle? I had read enough to understand that many people starve themselves and in doing so lose some weight - but the weight that they lose isn't just fat - but a lot of it is muscle. In the end they end up being just as unhealthy as they were before they started - only now they have much less muscle. So I kept a close eye on what kind of weight I was losing. Apparently you need to keep your protein up - this helps you to maintain the muscle you do have, while losing the fat.

I like to talk about the numbers, so forgive my boring tangent there - but the bottom line is that we in North America have overlooked gluttony as a sin. Even in our pulpits I see plus-size pastors everywhere (except in those churches where image is so important that a person would for vanity's sake do whatever it cost to look their best).

If we as teachers and pastors overlook our own gluttony, we do this church a disservice. I for one have been delivered out of it, and by God's grace, assuming I remain humble, I will continue to overcome this sin. My encouragement for those who are overweight and in the faith - repent.
posted by Daniel @ 1:07 PM   0 comment(s)
Monday, July 18, 2005
Fad driven churches...
In his post for July 16, 2005,
The worst of times: Evangelicalism in critical condition, Phil Johnson says, "That's why we have so many Fad-Driven® Churches..." I confess, this is an uncommon assessment - uncommon in that it is both brief and accurate! I even like the trademark sign - that was icing on the cake.

Phil is usually "bang on" - (you should read his blog entry for the fourteenth!!
posted by Daniel @ 11:41 AM   3 comment(s)
Indoctrination is not discipleship...
One of the saddest things I am seeing in many churches today is a lack of discipleship.
And among the few churches that have made any effort to offer discipleship, most are really just offering indoctrination.

Indoctrination is the process by which a new believer is spoon fed the tenets of their faith. In some churches this is quite an elaborate process - some even insist that new converts begin to memorize the various confessions of faith (Westminster, Belgium, etc.)!

Now, knowing or even memorizing one or many of the various confessions of faith is not a bad thing - and isn't to be discouraged, and that isn't the point of the distinction - that is, we are not saying that indoctrination is a bad thing, nor are we defining the best method of indoctrinating believers (bible studies, confessional statements, etc. etc.) We do however want to make the distinction between indoctrination and dicsipleship.

Matthew 28:20 says that the disciples must be taught to obey and practise every single command given by our Lord. This is the pathway of discipleship. Knowing what those commands are is very important - this is where indoctrination comes in. But knowing those commands and obeying them are not the same thing. Discipleship isn't the teaching of doctrine alone, it is the teaching of obedience to that doctrine - and this is the teaching that is sorely lacking in many churches today.

Jesus never said that his disciples would be known by the purity of their doctrine - he said that they would be known by their love for one another. One of the first mistakes made in discipleship is to try and fully indoctrinate another person (or worse, become fully indoctrinated yourself) before putting discipleship into practice. Is it correct to urge converts to strive for purity in their doctrine, while all the while neglecting practical obedience? Should they strive for holiness in a vacuum - without the fellowship of the Holy Spirit fellowship? I presume that the Lord will opens their eyes, even if they are entirely blind to it - but before that happens unless someone has to point it out.

When we disciple a person should we not place equal emphasis on the practice of the Christian faith as we do on the definition of Christian faith?

That isn't to suggest that we throw out bible study and sound doctrine, but it is to say that a person ought to be walking in fellowship with God during his or her foray into any Christian apology or theology. Study is either going to puff the student up with knowledge or humble the student in God's presence and thereby directly impact one's relationship with God.

Sadly though there are many who have been indoctrinated without having been discipled - whose heads are full of knowledge, whose mouths even swell with praise, but whose their hearts are far from God -- because they are still babes in their faith, having never put all their knowledge into practice. I speak as one who has walked this road.

One of the reasons this is so prevalent today is because we have learned to admire academia rather than faith. We look to biblical scholars and professors for their opinions before we turn to that godly man who sits in the center pew of our own church. We give glory to men because of their own scholastic acheivement - and ignore the people God has used to build His church.

Having made this distinction, we must guard against the pendulum swinging the other way - that is, we must beware of the possibility of dismissing all scholarly or intellectual pursuit. Such is as much a folly as the other. Academia only becomes an "enemy" when it is replacing spirituality.

Let us be on our guard - discipleship includes indoctrination - but that is not the end of it!

posted by Daniel @ 11:09 AM   0 comment(s)
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