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What is this?


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

Sparta, MI 49345

 

Has anyone ever given you something and the first thing out of your mouth was, “What is this?” This happed to the children of Israel. The Israelites had just been brought out of Egypt, from a time of slavery, which was a very difficult season in their life. They found themselves in the middle of the wilderness in need of food. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this white substance appears. Exodus 16:31 says, “The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.” They called the bread “Manna.” The Hebrew word used here for “manna” was a compound word established from two words. The first was the word “man” meaning “what.” In fact, it is known as an imperative what, implying a question. The second was the word “huw” which is used for the word “this.” So, when you combine the two words together, it is literally translated “what is this?” The reason they said this was because they had never seen it before. This was the first time they had seen this white stuff.

Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Notice it says that God fed them with manna, which they, nor their fathers had ever known. So, what was this stuff called “Manna?” It was the provision of God! It was God meeting their need. It was God’s answer to their problem. Yet, their reply was, “What is this?” Why? Could it be it was because it came in a way and form unfamiliar to them? Could it be they just did not see it for what it was? I remain intrigued by the fact that the Israelites called it manna, not God. They named it, “what is it?” God didn’t. How many times do we name something for God? Have you ever rejected something from God because it did not come the way you envisioned? The Israelites did just that. In fact, after a while, what God provided was no longer good enough. So, they complained and asked for something different. Does this sound familiar?

You may ask, what is so important about this? It is important because this lesson remains true for us today. God’s provision and direction often comes in ways and forms you may not understand. You may have never seen or experienced them before. The question is, will you receive it, as from the Lord? You may have lost a job, been struggling with your health, your marriage. You may be depressed and wondering if anyone cares. Is there a God and does He even care? The answer is, Yes He does! He sees your need in your “wilderness” experience, just like He did the Israelites and He will provide. Just realize He will probably do it in a way you do not understand. In fact, your current situation, as difficult as it may seem, may just be what is needed for you to trust Him and not yourself. Notice the end of verse 3 in Deuteronomy.  God did this to “teach you that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He did this so that they would learn to trust God, not just for their daily needs, but for every area of their lives. Will you do that today? Will you give him every area of your life? Will you trust Him with your money, your marriage, your children, your problems? The test is to trust Him with everything we are and everything we possess. As I close, I leave you with a few other verses that encourage and challenge us to trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-10: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

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Confident Grace


By Pastor Craig Carter, North Kent Community Church

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16 NIV).

What’s so amazing about grace? If we are honest, the longer we live and serve the Lord, the more we realize that God’s grace is simply amazing. One of the most profound things about God’s grace is that it invites us to God’s throne with confidence. Notice that the throne we are invited to is not one of judgment, but of grace. The writer of Romans gives us this same picture. He writes, “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:15-17). God provided abundant grace for this life. Now that’s a confidence builder in us all! God says this grace assures us we can reign in life. We can live confidently that if God is for us, who can be against us?

I think it is important to remember that grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is a favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that same person deserves. That is why we are invited to come to this throne without hesitation. In the above verse, we are instructed to come to this throne with “confidence.” Another translation says that we may “come boldly” unto the throne of grace. This word “boldly” is the Greek word parrhesia (par-rhay-see’-ah), which literally means to come with an all out-outspokenness, frankness and bluntness. It also implies that we can do so, without fear of some repercussions.

Let me ask you this question. When was the last time you went to God and spoke your mind honestly and openly, without fear of some repercussions? You may be uncomfortable with this, but that’s exactly what God’s grace allows us to do. I find it interesting that people harbor all kinds of thoughts in their heart that they would not even consider speaking with their mouth. Yet, they fail to realize God already knows their thoughts! They act as if they were to verbalize them to God, he would punish them with some consequence. They think a lightning bolt from heaven is going to strike them because they had the audacity to speak their mind to God. I frequently remind people, God is a big boy, feel free to tell Him how you really feel.

Let me challenge you today. Go confidently or boldly to God’s throne with whatever need you have. Do not be afraid to speak your mind to God, because mercy and grace await you. Grace invites you to its throne because it longs to help you.

North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, Church Phone #: 550-6398

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Glory to God and peace to men


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, MI 49345

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

This passage of scripture in Luke 2 is one of the most read verses in the bible this time of year. There is so much here, it is often easy to overlook the powerful, yet simple message of Christmas found in these verses! We see from this passage, the angel’s message was one of good news about a specific day in history, in a specific city, about a real Savior, who is Christ the Lord. While this news was being proclaimed, immediately there was a response from heaven. The heavenly response declared two very distinct purposes that God had for sending Jesus to earth.

The first was to declare the Glory of God. Notice it took one angel to announce the savior’s birth, but a multitude joined with the angel to praise God! This word multitude is a military term, also translated host. It meant an army. An army of angels came to sing and proclaim God’s glory. It signified how important this event in history was. It signified how important this Savior was. It was a life-changing event that would forever change the course of history. What did it mean? What did it proclaim? It proclaimed how much God loved the world. We are reminded in John 3:16, that “God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son…” It declared to all of humanity that God alone deserves all our praise. It was intended to grab all of man’s attention and direct it to the one who was worthy to receive it, Jesus Christ! Christmas is designed and celebrated to turn the world’s attention to Jesus.

Secondly, the multitude of angles declared that peace was now available to all mankind, through this sign, this Savior—Jesus Christ. Often, we declare this peace, at Christmas, as a universal one. Meaning everyone can have peace on earth. This is true, but only to a degree. Meaning, this peace is available to everyone on earth, but only to those on “whom God’s favor” rests. Who may that be, you ask? God’s favor rests on those who receive Jesus Christ as savior, as the one who forgives us of our sin; as the Christ, the one who provides hope; as Lord, the one who defeats our enemies and makes us secure; and the one who provides us peace. Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he himself (Jesus) is our peace…” In the current days we are living in, everyone is ultimately looking for and pursuing peace in their own ways. We would love to see the world at peace with each other. However, apart from Jesus Christ this will never occur. Christmas says that Christ is the answer for peace in the world. That’s why many are anti-Christmas. They ultimately are opposing Christ. The message of Christmas to the whole world is that there is peace through a relationship with Jesus Christ! The angels sang and declared this good news of peace. The greatest gift this Christmas is personal peace with God through Jesus Christ. Will you receive it?

Merry Christmas! Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men!

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North Kent Pastors got talent


Pastor Craig Carter, of North Kent Community Church, rapped for the audience. Photo courtesy Wise Photography.

Pastor Craig Carter, of North Kent Community Church, rapped for the audience. Photo courtesy Wise Photography.

Local clergy sang musical parodies, danced righteous medleys, rapped with soul, and dazzled with Tae Kwon Do on Thursday, September 24, to raise funds for individuals in need throughout northern Kent County.

The second annual North Kent Pastors got talent event featured a spirited, yet friendly, competition of church leaders, from Rockford, Sparta and Cedar Springs. Close to 500 spectators and dozens of sponsors came to cheer on the pastors and pledge contributions to North Kent Community Services (NKCS).

More than $65,000 was raised, after expenses, for food and educational programs.

Pastor John Huizenga, of River Rock Church, tried some moonwalking. Photo courtesy Wise Photography

Pastor John Huizenga, of River Rock Church, tried some moonwalking. Photo courtesy Wise Photography

“We are grateful that these talented pastors graced the stage to help us raise these funds for families in our community,” said Claire Guisfredi, executive director at NKCS. “North Kent Pastors got talent continues to bring together a host of area leaders and generous community members to make a difference for so many of our own neighbors struggling simply to get by.”

The pastor that won the Judges’ Pick was Pastor Jon Huizenga, from River Rock Church, for his rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”

The pastor that won the popular vote was Fr. Mark Peacock from St. Patrick Parnell for performing a musical parody about Pope Francis.

North Kent Community Services is located at 10075 Northland Drive, at 12 Mile. For more info on NKCS, visit them online at http://nkcs.org/ or call 616-866-3478.

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The Power of Purpose


Pastor Craig Carter 

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345

 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Why am I here? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself this question? If you are like most people, we live our lives with no real sense of meaning or purpose. We can easily live as if we are just a victim, or the by-product of the life events happening around us everyday. Sometimes the events are so serious, or life altering, that we finally stop long enough to ask ourselves this question, “Why am I here?” “What is the purpose of my life?”

The above verse found in Ephesians chapter 2, gives us some powerful insight into this serious life question. If you and I lived in the days of the Apostle Paul and spoke Greek like he did, we would know that the word workmanship means work of art or one of a kind creation.  In fact, the Greek word used is POY-ay-mah, which means something that has been made and is where we derive our English word poem. Paul is saying, you and I are a one of kind creation, a work of art, a poem, with a very distinct meaning and purpose. From the day you were born, you were His Masterpiece. There is and never will be another one like you!

The first step in finding your purpose in life is acknowledging and never forgetting that God created you!  Every created thing has a purpose. That is how God designed it! Psalms 139:14 says, “I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.” God’s work of art was revealed in your life the day you were born. To many people bemoan their lives. They fall victim to life’s circumstances, forgetting that the very God of heaven created them and he did so with a purpose!

Step two in finding power in your purpose, is realizing you were also created to live in relationship with God’s son, Jesus. Notice the second part of this verse. We are his workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus.” This is reason so many lives lack meaningful purpose. They do not live in connection to, or in significant relationship with, Jesus. They may acknowledge Him, but never enter a real personal relationship with Him. This is what the Bible refers to as your second birth, or your new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” It is taking the next step in life. You first acknowledge that your natural birth was accident, but was by God’s design. Then out of gratefulness to Him, you enter a relationship with Him through his son Jesus Christ.  You acknowledge Jesus loves you and died for your sins. You receive His forgiveness for you and acknowledge He has a plan, a purpose for your life.

Lastly, You will find power in your purpose when you see that Jesus has good things for you to do, that His plan for you is good. Do not just dwell on all the negative in life. Learn to see and know that God has created you for good things. The prophet Jeremiah learned this truth when God said to him, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). In fact, the end of Ephesians 2:10 says that God has ordained you to walk in them. Meaning they were a part of His plan for your life from the day you were born.  So, go live your life. Live it with power! Live it with purpose and meaning! You were born into this world as a work of God’s art. You were born to have relationship with Him and live it blessing others with the good God had blessed you with. So, start walking in them!

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Your attitude determines your altitude!


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd.

Sparta, MI 49345

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-).

Last week, I was in a meeting with a couple good friends. We were mentoring a group of 7th and 8th grade boys together. One of my friends was sharing this principle, “your attitude determines your altitude!” He encouraged all of us to check our attitude about others and life in general. He pointed out how our attitude truly does influence how far we will actually go in life.

Since that meeting, I have not been able to get that thought out of my mind and heart. Recently, life has brought a number of difficult circumstances and situations in my life that have certainly affected my attitude. I have realized again, that it’s my choice about how I decide to react. The above verse found in Colossians 3:1-2 came to mind. I was reminded how important it is to “set” my mind and my heart on the “things above.” This means to be heavenly minded, or to think on what the Word of God say’s, not on the things of earth, or the circumstances around me. So how have I found this verse helpful to me? First, I noticed Paul said, “If you have been risen with Christ…” That means “if” you are a Christian, or you have been born again, you are a new creature and you have a new nature! Your old nature and self, no longer control your life or thoughts. You have to power of Christ living in you and can “rise above” above a negative attitude. These circumstances do not have to get me down!

Secondly, Paul said to “Set” our mind and heart on things above. The word “set” means to determine or purpose to do it. It is a decision of our will. We can, as Nike says, “Just do it!” No excuses, purpose to set our mind or thoughts on godly things. Purpose to focus on truth, scripture that encourages and build us up, not on the negative thoughts of the world or our circumstances. Philippians 4:8 reads, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Paul says change what your thinking! Change your sights, aim higher!  Increase your altitude by changing your attitude!

The other day I heard a story about a military pilot who was testing a new plane. The inside of the plane was not finished out, and one of the face panels was off. While in flight, he noticed a big fat rat gnawing at the wires. He knew he had a problem. So he radioed down to the control center, “Hey guys, we have a problem.” One of the commanders replied, “This plane is designed to fly at high altitudes, so immediately drive the plane high in the atmosphere, the rat will not be able to stand the pressure and will pass out or die.” So, that’s exactly what the pilot did and the rat immediately stopped chewing on the wires. The pilot saved both his life and the plane. The moral of the story is, drive the plane of your life higher! Set your mind and heart on godly principles and God’s Word. You want to rise above the negative circumstances? You want to “kill the rats” gnawing at your life? You want to avoid an emotional crash? Drive your plane higher! Instead of staying mad and angry about life and its circumstances, forgive and trust God.  Instead of being selfish because things are not going your way, be generous and bless someone else who is worst off than you! Instead of being stubborn, admit you were wrong and seek forgiveness and restoration in your relationships. Instead of complaining about the government and politicians, pray for them. In essence, stop stooping down to the behavior of others, choose to rise above it. Take the high road, be godly and set your mind and heart on things above.

In close, I leave you with this thought from my former pastor and mentor. He often asked,“Why do choose to walk with turkeys, when you can soar with the eagles?” Remember, your attitude will determine your altitude!

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PATRICIA LENNOX WEAVER


 

C-obit-WeaverSeptember 7, 1956 – March 26, 2015

Please join family and friends of Patricia Lennox Weaver as we gather in a celebration of life, Saturday April 4th at 11:30am. Patty has not only blessed us with the memory of her mischievous smile and laughter, but also her loving family, Tom Sanders, Vallerie Merlington (Ross Merlington), John Weaver (Jenny Weaver), Amy Weaver, 8 grandchildren, and husband Darrell Weaver.

“Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us” – Meister Eckhart

Memorial to be held at the North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd. NE Sparta 49354.

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Past pain turned into present purpose


 

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. | Sparta, MI 49345 

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NKJV). 

This verse tells a story about an amazing person. There have been many sermons preached about this man called Jabez, and his prayer to the Lord. Here are a couple thoughts that I think may be helpful to you.

First, Jabez was said to be “more honorable than his brothers.” We read after this that his mother named him Jabez because she bore him in pain. The name Jabez in Hebrew literally means pain. From birth, Jabez was given a “label.” Every time his mother called him for dinner, chores or other things, he was reminded of what she thought about him. When anyone used his name, he was identified with pain. Yet, Jabez was “more honorable than his brothers.” What does this mean? It means that despite the label placed on him, Jabez refused to be defined by this label. He rose above it. He trusted God. He prayed, and he walked in forgiveness. Jabez accepted God’s word, feelings and thoughts above the opinion of others.

How about you? Have you been labeled? Have you lived a life of pain or difficulty? Has it defined who you are, or have you risen above it? The bible tells us that even “though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalms 27:10). Also, God has adopted us “by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:5-7). Through a personal relationship with Jesus, you are accepted and loved. Do not allow the labels of others or the pain of life define who you are. Know that you can, like Jabez, call out to God and he will hear your prayer and change your life.

Secondly, Jabez was known for his prayer. What he is remembered for is not some outstanding achievement, but a prayer. He did not win a great battle or erect a large building. He prayed a simple prayer and God answered it. When moving from the pain of your past to a purpose in your future, never forget that God hears your prayers. Jabez was praying that he might now be a blessing to others. He wanted his territory enlarged, so he could influence others with the same love and comfort he received from God. He wanted to be kept from evil and live a godly life, so he did not cause undue pain to others. Jabez’s prayer was never just about him. He was living in victory and wanted others to experience it, too. This is our purpose, too. God brings us through our pain, our past, and our troubles, and reminds us that they were never just about us. God wants to use you to bless others.

Are you dealing with your past, experiencing pain, or fighting labels? With Jesus Christ you can rise above it. If God is for you, who can be against you? Through God, “all things are possible.” God has a plan and purpose, and you will use your experiences to bless others.

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Former Muslim leader to speak at North Kent Community Church


Rev. Deo Mwamba

Rev. Deo Mwamba

The Rev. Deo Mwamba, a former Muslim leader who is now a Christian, will speak at North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Road NE, Sparta, on Sunday, December 14, at 10 a.m.

Mwamba was both a Sheikh and Imam. He graduated from the International Islamic University of Medina–Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he received his Degree in Islamic Studies and Propagation of Islam. Deo was converted to Christ in 1998 and has since ministered and served with several ministries helping to reach Muslims for Christ.

He says, “I came to know Jesus through the Quran. I am so excited to know the truth and I decided to follow Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and was baptized on the 5th of April 1998. After that, I lived secretly for a while because of my position as a Sheikh and Imam. I also feared that my life, together with the family, could be in danger after confessing that Jesus Christ is God and He is the One who will come back on the Day of Judgment.”

Deo will share more of his amazing testimony and encourage Christians about how to reach Muslims. He will also lead a dedication of 20 audio bibles (treasures) that will be sent to the nation of India. You will not want to miss the great service, presented by North Kent Community Church and World Missions, so be sure to invite friends. A reception luncheon will immediately follow the service.

 

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Power of Prayer


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345

 

 

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness”—Martin Luther.

For the last several weeks, I have been drawn to a more committed and deeper prayer life. Often we think, as Martin Luther wrote, that our prayers are somehow needed to “move” a reluctant God. When in reality, we are simply acknowledging and “laying hold” of God’s willingness. Do you see God as a willing person? Willing to listen? Willing to answer? Willing to provide? Willing to reveal and show His love to you?  Is your “picture” of God one of a willing Father or a resistant and reluctant God?

You see, your “picture” of God is critical to understanding prayer. It is essential to knowing Him as a loving and willing Father. Jesus taught this lesson to his disciples when he taught them about prayer in Luke chapter 11. We call this well known teaching of Jesus, “the Lord’s Prayer.” Luke 11:1-4 reads, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us and lead us not into temptation.’”

Jesus had been with his disciples for some time now. They had witnessed him heal and deliver many people. They witnessed him repeatedly say, “I only speak what the father speaks,”  “If you have seen me, you have seen the father,” “I and the Father are one.” They also have witnessed him take time out of his demanding life and spend time in prayer. One day, upon returning from one of His prayer times, the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to teach them how to pray.  Their request was, “teach us how to pray, as John taught his disciples!” Notice this request? There was something different about how John was teaching people to pray. Jesus disciples knew about “prayer” but they wanted Jesus to teach them about the prayers that John’s disciples were praying. You see, up until this time, prayer was mainly one of reverence and adoration. Prayers, especially by the Pharisees and religious people, were known to be long and repetitious. In fact, Jesus warned us not to pray like this. So, what was different about these prayers?

As we read further in verses 2 – 4, we see that the Lord introduces the principle of praying to God as a Father. He includes in this communication our petitions and requests. We are encouraged to adore God as our Father and to share our requests and needs. In essence, He is saying, “please know you can ask your Father for what you have need of in your life.”

In fact, immediately following the Lord’s prayer, we see Jesus sharing a parable about a man who was rewarded for his persistence in asking for his need to be met. There was no rebuke, but a reward for his persistence! One translation says, he was rewarded for his “boldness.” As a child of God the Father, learn to communicate with him through prayer. Exercise your faith, your boldness, your confidence, during these times of pray. Make your requests and needs known.  For the Father’s ear is always listening. We are, as Luther said, “laying hold of His willingness.” Will you lay hold of it today? Will you be more consistent and persistent in your prayer life, because you know you have a willing Father who loves you. If so, you will begin to see the power of prayer in your every day life.

 

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