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Archive for the ‘Acceptance of Others’ Category

by Jim Gordon

Over the past few months, I have watched with displeasure the discussions and comments on social media. The interaction among people seems to be taking a turn that is more divisive, argumentative and sometimes hateful. Social media has become the common way of communication these days and it is very easy to be unkind and bolder than usual. We express our thoughts and feelings in a much meaner way than we would if we were face to face.

I think most people find that sitting in front of a computer screen gives a sense of boldness and openness to express themselves in ways that are not always a good thing. There is something about not being in the presence of someone or seeing their face that emboldens us and allows our mean side to come out.

To me it is the same feeling you can get when you get behind the wheel of a car. All of a sudden, we seem to be in attack mode. We blow our horn at others, yell and curse and flip people off, yet if we walked by them on the street we would smile and say hello.

There is something about face-to-face communication that usually changes the way we talk to and treat others. Face to face communication seems to take away the meanness we usually find with social media communication. Looking someone in the face, being in their presence seems to soften the way we talk and respond.

Why is it that we cannot see the human person behind the computer screen? Why is it we feel the meanness, this emboldened power to treat others with contempt? Remember Jesus said to love not only those who love you but to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.

There is nothing wrong with social media and communicating through it. Just keep in mind that there is another human being on the other end, and even though we are not in their physical presence, the things we say and the way we react have an impact on them. Let us make it a point to have a positive, encouraging impact when we communicate with others.

The way of Christ is the way of love. Whether it be online or in person we are to love our neighbors. In our world today living in love is becoming rare. Yet by doing so in the power of the Spirit, it will be noticed and it will make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and so desperately seeking love and acceptance.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

With all the changes happening in Christianity these days, such as Christian Nationalism, exclusion of those who are LGBTQ, seeing the separation of church and state slowly disappear, and those in the church seemingly becoming more hateful toward those who believe differently, my wife and I question whether we should still call ourselves Christian or not. Basically, it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

If being a Christian is being part of a religion that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on what denomination we belong to, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other religions and only accepts those who believe like we do, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with excluding those who are LGBTQ, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with treating women unequally, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with discrimination and segregation, then no, we are not Christians.

Actions that do not show the love, acceptance and good works that Jesus showed while on earth are not part of a Christianity we want to be associated with.

In Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. They were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian, then we are all in.

There are many ways we can describe ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, people of faith, Christians. Yet, the name itself does not really matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, being called a Christian means nothing, and may actually be damaging to others.

When people see us, they should see Christ. He lives within us by the Spirit. We really do not need to worry so much about the label we use. We are to be known by our actions that show the love of God and share that love with our fellow man each and every day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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That is the Question

by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the church, I know we are taught to be a witness for Christ. It seems we are made to feel we have to use every opportunity to tell others about Jesus or we have not fulfilled our obligation to lead others to salvation. Sometimes, we are even told if we do not witness to people, their blood will be upon our hands.

Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation?

Quite frankly, I disagree with all of the above. I feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact with each day. I can remember a few instances when I met someone while shopping who seemed extremely nice and pleasant to carry on a conversation. They made me feel good and I actually thought I might have a new friend. Then, later on in the conversation I would find out they were selling Amway. Now, nothing wrong with Amway, but when I found out they were not the nice, caring people who were interested in me but only interested in recruitment, I was very disappointed.

I think it is the same with us Christians. When we use every opportunity to force a conversation about God, we are not being real. We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love. There is no need to force conversations, just be genuine and care about people.

Anyone can speak words…words of condemnation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, but words themselves have no strength in themselves. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. When we consistently live what we believe and say, it has more impact than thousands of words. Forcing conversations and friendships for ulterior motives just turn people off. 

We should remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to God. It is not our job to be judgmental, condemning and trying to prove to people that they are sinning.

God’s word says that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine, minding your business, living a peaceful life, but be ready at all times to give an answer about salvation and God’s love when someone asks. The important part is when they ask, we do not force anything upon anyone. Only when the Holy Spirit is leading the opportunity and the words, will it make an impact on the person anyway. Apart from that, just love people, be genuine and caring.

By living this lifestyle, and not forcing our views on others, the words we say will have more meaning to those who are wondering what the hope is that we have within us.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

It seems that our world is fast becoming devoid of people who want to work together for the good of others. What is missing in our world today? The same thing that is missing in the Christian world today… love, concern and acceptance of others.

Most people and groups are more concerned about their goals and purposes and what is best for them. Many seem unwilling to compromise or work together for the good of others.

Where are the followers of Jesus and his teaching from the Sermon on the Mount? Where are those who allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives, thus producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Seems like everyone has started taking sides and creating an us versus them world. We seem to take a stand rather than try to understand the other side. We dig our heals in and would rather fight, degrade and hate rather than love one another.

Jesus said to love God and love one another. I do not think we are to judge, condemn or hate anyone. This does not mean we cannot have our personal views and opinions on things. None of us will ever see eye-to-eye on everything. The problem is when we refuse to see any other view or opinion other than ours.

Here in the United States, it seems people are getting meaner and meaning and refusing to be open-minded on various topics and events. This seems to be happening often in regard to politics. So often people of opposing political parties want to fight and be hateful to others rather than push for change through the voting process. We are fortunate to have the option to vote for people who back our views. If the majority of the people are dissatisfied with the way the government is going, they can vote for new leaders. The sad thing is that when their particular candidate or political party does not get elected, rather than regroup and get ready for the next vote, they will do anything to attack the other side, cry foul and disrespect the election progress.

Rather than continuing this sad path we are on where we are mean, exclusive and hateful, let us love God, love others and seek the good of all people rather than for just a select few.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

I’m no expert but one who is anxious for others to avoid my failures. I can assure you my marriage hasn’t lasted 40 years so far as of today because I am some saint. Divorce can happen and doesn’t doom one as a failure for life. Relationships aren’t that complicated, just hard. Many marriages can succeed when both partners adhere to a few essential attitudes and actions to better relate. I am going to keep this less than a five-minute read in hopes more read provoking ideas if struggling. Success isn’t an exact path. We all have a chance if strive to treat our partner like a best friend!

The Right Attitude – Accepting Differences 

Good luck finding a partner that always agree. Marriage is about living happily incompatible. There are no perfect matches. Relationships often start off well because reality hasn’t set in – sharing closets, bathrooms, in-laws, children, etc. You still have in common why you began the relationship, but now you have to work out your differences. Other friendships don’t have the 24/7 challenges. Naively, I assumed in the beginning I would be happily married 100% of the time. Now, I realize being pleased 75% of the time is a pretty good marriage. Strive to treat your partner like you want to be treated when not agreeing. Marriage isn’t agreeing but learning to disagree. 

The Right Actions – Fighting Fair 

After accepting we don’t have a right to expect everything we desire, we still have to solve such differences to live peacefully together. When handling differences in other relationships it usually is out in public with others around eyeballing your actions. In a 24/7 relationship differences can happen more in private. There is less accountability to behave. Kids, we know the rules in solving differences – keep your hands to yourself, don’t raise your voice, stop interrupting, etc. When such rules are violated, give each other permission to stop and restart when acting more civilly. Couples who say they are no longer in love have stopped treating each other in loving ways. Happy couples expect problems and solve differences in a positive manner so solutions can be discovered. 

Identify A Specific Plan And Persist 

As you strive for the right attitude and actions – develop specific steps each can take, evaluate success in a time limited fashion, and do it all over again. Keep trying until finding what works. Judge the relationship not on feelings that depend on circumstance but judge the relationship on specific actions that can bring about desired feelings.  Couples often give up too soon because they attempt a “hit and miss” approach to their problems. Couples often argue, “they have tried everything.” Develop your own list of habits such as below:

  • During conflict both ideally ask “what can I do differently” not “why can’t you”
  • Assume good will of you partner unless you married the devil
  • Focus on solutions than problems
  • Persist unless one partner is being abusive
  • Run from temptations that can set you up for failure
  • Get third party help after remaining stuck
  • Try doing what you would tell your friend if they asked for advise
  • Identify 2 or 1 thing you wish each would do differently once a day that is observable and you can acknowledge genuine appreciation when it happens
  • Focus on being the right person rather than your partner
  • Happy couples’ ratio of encouraging than criticizing is at least 6:1

Spiritual help can be invaluable in marriage

Maybe you are just a good person without any help. Personally, I need help being the best version of myself for the sake of my partner. I need to be willing to say sorry. I need to recognize I am being selfish. I need to be willing to forgive when my partner takes responsibility for their actions. Great marriages aren’t about being good enough or not as bad as other partners. The best goal of marriage or any relationship is aiming for perfection. My view of God inspires me to pursue perfection in my relationships without being paralyzed by guilt when failing. I have the “want to” to be perfect. I believe that motivation comes from God!

John and Julie Gottman, who have researched marriage relationships for years to identify important factors that lead to success, state something so true: “Every marriage has perpetual issues – conflicts based on personality differences or lifestyle differences that never go away. Common examples include how much intimacy there should be in a marriage, as well as disagreements over money and household chores. But as longtime marriage therapists, we’ve found that partners can live peacefully with perpetual issues as long as they talk about them in a open, productive way.” 

How The Heck Do You Have A Good Marriage?

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

When thinking about all that is going on in the world today, one main issue is about gay and transgender rights and equality. It is obvious that those who are LGBTQ are being seriously discriminated against and not being treated equally as they should. There seems to be a growing amount of discrimination, exclusion and hatred toward them and even within political decisions as well.

It seems that many who are Christian seem to think it is best to come against those who are LGBTQ as a way of showing that they are in favor of Christian values and want to take a stand for God. The main problem for this way of thinking is the many misinterpretations of biblical verses and not understanding meanings and customs at the time the Bible was written. Many Christian people go so far as to think if you are LGBTQ, then you cannot be Christian.

Personally, as a Christian I think this way of thinking and acting is completely wrong and so against what Jesus taught and lived in regard to how to treat other people. He accepted and spent time with all kinds of people, mostly people who the religious crowd would not want to spend time with or get to know.

Why is it many Christian people think that by taking a stand against someone or something they do not agree with is the way to show true Christian love and acceptance? Why is it in a world with so many diverse people and various beliefs that they feel the need to openly defend their way as if it is the only way?

As a Christian I do believe in living for God and showing His love to everyone. After all, Jesus told us to love God and love one another. There is no need to do anything other than love one another. It is not our job to change people, convict people or judge people.

None of us are going to have everything figured out, none of us are always going to be right. That does not mean we should pick and choose who we love and accept. No matter what we choose to believe or how we choose to live, everyone deserves to be treated equally and loved just as they are.

A good friend of mine is a firefighter and he shared a paragraph from an ethics class he recently attended. It reads: Equal Services for All. Always ensure that the services you and your crew are providing are equal for everyone on the scene. Never discriminate because of race, color, religion, age, sex (gender), or disability. If you become aware of another firefighter discriminating against someone, rectify the situation immediately and report it to your chief. Discrimination should never be tolerated.

To me this sounds more like it came from Jesus telling his followers how to treat others.

I believe that standing up for our Christian values should be positive, not negative. It is not showing what we are against, being mean, condemning, unaccepting, judgmental and discriminating. It is showing what we are for in Christ, which is showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is showing love to our fellow human beings no matter who they are or what they believe.

We certainly are not all going to agree on everything. We are all going to make our choices on what to believe and how to live based on what we feel is right or best for us. Yet in those differences there is no reason we cannot respect, accept and love each other knowing that God loves each and every one of us. As Mike Warnke said many years ago “if you’re good enough for God, then you’re good enough for me”. That might be a simple way of saying it, but God loves us all, and we should love each other and treat others equally.

It is time to set aside our differences, set aside discrimination, set aside prejudices and doctrinal beliefs and show the love of God to everyone we meet. We were all created in the image of God and we are all to love one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and to tell why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt that since I was pretty open by saying I hated the sin but loved the sinner, I was doing better than most. Yet, either way I was saying being gay was a sin.

I never treated those who were gay in a bad way. I never treated any of my friends or relatives who were gay any different than I treated anyone else. I saw them as normal everyday people, except for a great sin in their life.

Things changed on this subject, and amazingly it was after leaving the institutional church. I started to see that God loves people, all people. There was no ‘I love you but’ when it came to God. I started to read some on the subject (something I never dreamed of doing before). I read Justin Lee and Matthew Vines. I really thought about a God of love and how could that God condemn people for the way he made them.

I finally began to see those who are LGBTQ for who they really are….people, normal, everyday people. Take away the labels and you have human beings like everyone else. Just because they were born with different sexual views does not make them second class citizens and does not make them deserving of the awful ways they are treated, especially by the christian world. They are doing nothing more than being themselves the way God made them.

Today I have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all straight people who call themselves christian are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between straight christian people and those who are LGBTQ, whether christian or not. I can no longer say I believe being gay is a sin. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the church and evangelical christians.

I recently read a book by Amber Cantorna called Refocusing My Family. It is such an interesting read, telling of her questions, struggles and hardships in her walk with God and her family. Her traditional christian upbringing and her dad being an employee of Focus on the Family made it extremely hard on her when she came out as gay. What terrible struggles and treatment she received. It is so hard for me to understand how parents can disown their children, yet I know it happens all the time.

I also believe that christians who still believe being gay is wrong are handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love one another. We are to love, not judge and condemn. I have read so many articles about the abuse the gay community takes: beatings, exclusion, disowned by their family, suicides…it is terrible. No matter what stand we take on the issue we are not to judge and condemn. As followers of Christ, we are to be known for our love and for treating everyone equally.

I personally am tired of the way the christian church has treated those who are LGBTQ. Whether they agree or disagree they should be treating everyone with love. For me, I have concluded that being gay is not a sin and I fully love and accept all people just as they are. I hope I can show that love and acceptance to others in some way.

I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. I pray that I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet who are LGBTQ and letting them know they are loved just as they are.

Following are a few good books I have read on the subject with links to Amazon:

** Is God a Gay Basher by Jan Liebegott

** God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

** Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

** Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians by Amber Cantorna

** UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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Our common focus is Jesus

Colossians 3:14 — And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity

by Jim Gordon

With all the different thoughts, ideas, interpretations, denominations and versions of the Bible, how is it possible for us to get along and have unity among the brethren?

It is by love. To put on love is to put on God. God is love and love lives within us. Even in all the differences we can be united in the love of God. Our common focus is Jesus. We can be one in Christ and still have different views and opinions. Because of the love of Christ, we can respect one another’s views and opinions and accept them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Love will bind us together and allow us to live in peace with one another. Many times, love is pushed out of the way for our own selfish desires. That is when disrespect, arguing, judging and condemning takes over, and it is not a pretty sight for those who profess to follow God, who is love.

Unity comes only in Christ. It is not through religion, doctrines, denominations or bible versions but through Christ alone. Unity through Christ looks beyond religion, doctrines, denominations, race, sexual orientation and nationality.

God is love and he lives within us. By allowing his love to flow out of us we can look beyond our differences and accept one another even when we disagree.

Only by loving God and loving one another through the power of the Spirit will others see a difference in those of us who are followers of Christ.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

In our world today there seems to be a lot of talk in the Christian world of standing up for our beliefs and doctrines. It seems we feel this is the best way to show our devotion to God and be a witness for Him.

I am not so sure we are going about this in the correct way. As Christians we are getting to be known more for what we are against and being unloving rather than showing the love of God to others.

As Christians, many people go to a church building on Sunday to sing and smile and listen to a sermon. By doing so, they think they have fulfilled their duties for the week. All day they are feeling good and close to God and think everything is good.

Then Monday hits and off they go to work with a frown on their face and feeling down. They may be in a bad mood and snap at fellow employees trying to make them feel as bad as they do.

It seems we forget that Christianity is not a religion or a one day a week life. As followers of Christ, we are to let Christ live through us in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We are to let his love flow out of us to touch those we come in contact with throughout the day.

Rather than try to win people to God by our words, or by pointing out their mistakes or condemning them, we should allow the love of Christ to touch them by actually being loving and kind in the way we treat them.

While Jesus lived in bodily form on earth, he constantly spent time with those the religious crowd would not even think of being around. He spent time doing things that the religious leaders’ thought were wrong and against their religious laws. They could not even accept him as the messiah because he was so different from them and what they thought was a godly way to live.

Jesus accepted people for who they were, just the way they were and did not show condemnation toward them. As followers of Christ, we are to do the same. It is not our job to be the judge of others, pointing out their sins and mistakes and treating them like second class people. We are here to be Jesus to all people, loving, accepting and treating everyone with love and respect no matter who they are or what they believe.

In our world today, with all the discrimination and unloving ways of the world and even of the church, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to love through us. We are to let the love of God touch others and let them know they are accepted and cared for. We are to remind them that in God’s eyes they are loved beyond measure. Love is the way of God because God is love.

Stop the unloving and condemning attitudes and let those you come in contact with each day know they are loved and accepted. Do not do this in word only, but in actions and good deeds.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

In our world today there seems to be a lot of talk in the Christian world of standing up for our beliefs, our doctrines and our rights. It seems we feel this is the best way to show our devotion to God and be a witness for Him.

I am not so sure we are going about this in the best way. As Christians we are getting to be known more for what we are against and being unloving and unaccepting rather than showing the love of God to others.

A lot of us go to a church building on Sunday and sing and smile and listen to a sermon and think we have fulfilled our duties for the week. All day we are feeling good and close to God and think everything is good.

Then Monday hits and we go grudgingly off to work with a frown on our face and feeling down. We may be in a bad mood and snap at our fellow employees and try to make them feel as bad as we do.

It seems we forget that Christianity is not a religious, one day a week life. As followers of Christ, we are to let Christ live through us in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We are to let his love flow out of us to touch those we come in contact with throughout each day.

Rather than try to win people over to our way of thinking by pointing out their mistakes and shortcomings, rather than condemning them and making them feel like outsiders we should be allowing the love of Christ to touch them. We should be accepting, and we should treat all people like we want to be treated.

While Jesus lived here on earth, he constantly spent time with those the religious crowd would not even think of being around. He spent time doing things that the religious leaders thought were wrong and against their religious laws. They could not even accept him as the messiah because he was so different from them and what they thought was a godly way of living.

Jesus loved people for who they were, just the way they were. He did not show judgment and condemnation toward them. He loved them and wanted the best for them. As followers of Christ, we are to do the same. It is not our job to be the judge of others and treat them like second class people. The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. We are here to be Jesus to all people, loving, accepting and treating everyone with respect no matter who they are or what they believe.

In our world today, with all the discrimination and unloving ways of the world and even of the church, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to love through us to touch others and let them know they are accepted and cared for. In God’s eyes they are loved beyond measure. Love is the way of God because God is love.

Stop the unloving and condemning attitudes and let those you come in contact with each day know they are loved and accepted just for being themselves.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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