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The American Rewakening Series At:
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Pastor Skip Heitzeg of Ocean Hills Community Church, formerly of Calvary Chapel, Albuquerque NM, taught an excellent lesson in Jesus Foretold and Stage Center, detailing how the many circumstances surrounding the first century period when the Lord Jesus walked the earth modeled the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4) in Gods calendar. The Roman Empire ruled the known world, Greek was the dominate language and unified communications for the masses, and the roads developed by the Romans crisscrossed the expanse of developed mankind, all which provided a unmatched environment for the early Church to impact the world for the Gospel at that time. What is more, the anticipation in the Jewish world for the coming of the Messiah was prevalent in many circles and subsequently came to pass in the arrival of Jesus Christ on the scene. It is a fascinating lesson in the times which surrounded the first coming of the Lord, and the lesson is available from the ConnectionOnline.org store.
What was striking was that as I was listening to it over two days on the radio, the many comparisons to the global cultural, political, and military influence of the Roman Empire, as compared to the greater global influence of America today, was remarkable. It was remarkable because it further mirrors the unique, and indeed extraordinarily critical position, the Spirit-filled Christian Church in America is in today.
Like the ancient Roman Empire at its zenith, Americas global military influence since the end of WWII and the breakup of the Soviet Union is unmatched at this time. We currently have bases and troops stationed in all quarters of the world, a stabilizing influence much like the Roman Army in the first century, and further encouraged in strength in response to the war on terror. The American government's response to the Islamic terrorist attacks on 9/11 by effectively deploying our military has sent the enemies of America and the West reeling, and combined with the effective work of domestic Federal and local law enforcement, prevented any mass casualty attacks in-country since then. So the Spirit-filled Church in America serves secure for nowthank God. The American economy is still at the forefront of global commerce, even as emerging markets in China, India, Indonesia, continue to rise as viable competitors. And American political leadership in the global arena continues to be a mitigating factor in numerous fields.
Let me illustrate to the reader how and, more importantly, why, Evangelical Christianity in America is in a singular and historically critical position to impact the nation, and indeed, the world, today, and why, following the early Church, we have indeed come full circle and are once again in a spiritually strategic time with opportunity that cannot, and indeed will not, be lost.
The Global Influence Of America ~
English has been, up to this time, the dominate world language because of the American economic engine fueling the global economy, and even though the rising influence of China in the global economy is making knowledge of languages like Cantonese necessary in the corporate and international community, Western born technologies that translate speech are becoming more prevalent.
And the new "Roman road" system, the vehicle which supported the free flow delivery of the Gospel in the first century, is now reborn in the global Internet, which was birthed by American developed technology also.
In the CIA's National Intelligence Council (NIC), "Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Councils 2020 Project," (a government publication I recommend to anybody in leadership of any type today for its insights) the writers detail the growing influence of the Internet in the next ten/fifteen years. Quote:
The Internet in particular will spur the creation of global movements, which may emerge even more as a robust force in international affairs.
This U.S. Government publication focused much on technology and communications and the potential for negative elements exploiting it in the future, likewise, Evangelical Christianity in America, especially those churches and organizations which have already exploited the opportunities offered through Internet communications, still expanding in content and presentation potential through broadband and other high-speed access capabilities, will continue to be in a prime position to impact, not only this country, but the world with the Gospel in a sphere of limitless proportions. Especially those operating with a global mindset and multilingual outlook, understanding how the Holy Spirit is moving through all this in creating a digital/virtual church.
Thus fulfilling in a contemporary way "...And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:14)
But first, onward to some other factors in play right now.
America's Purpose in God's Plan In History ~
The one crucial factor in this American Evangelical "rewakening," which was already partly underway at the time, were the Islamic extremist attacks of September 11, 2001. In its shadow, millions of Christians across America were praying and engaging in some serious self-criticism. Why did God permit this to happen? Indeed, Professor Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard University, in his book, " Who Are We?," published in the wake of the war, reflected that deep self-examination as America began to review who we are as a nation, and the role of Christianity in that. In the initial years, President George Bush, modeled an American form of leadership much like the "Greatest Generation" of WWII, which quickly provided a breather so this could take place. Going deeper, what was, and still is, God's purpose and plan for America today, and American Evangelical Christianity's part in that; our purpose; our "mission"? After all, the American Nation, unequivocally the most powerful and influential nation in recorded history, is mentioned no where in the Bible, especially pertaining to "the latter days."
Sir Thomas Hodgkin, in his extensive work, Huns, Vandals, and the Fall of the Roman Empire, written almost a hundred years ago, addresses some of these things, from what caused the fall of the Roman Empire, the Lords reasons for bringing Rome on the scene, comparisons to his homeland England, and counsel to America. He writes, in part:
"Why did the Roman Empire Fall? An adequate answer to that question would fill many volumes, and would need to spring from a deep and minute knowledge of the Roman mind, and Roman laws, and the Roman armaments, to which no pretension is here made. The answer suggested in the following pages will be confessedly imperfect and inadequate, but even the fragments of a reply to such a question can hardly be quite devoid of interest.
The Roman Empire of the West fell because it had completed its work, the time had come for it to be cut down, and to cumber the ground no longer. Its rise, its extension over nearly the whole civilized world, had been a vast blessing to humanity; its prolonged existence, even had it been governed by an endless succession of Emperors like Trajan and Marcus, would have been a bane as great as the blessing. To all the nations around the Mediterranean sea it had brought peace, discipline, the reign of law, the preparation for Christianity; but it had robbed them of liberty, and as century was added to century, the virtues of the free man were being more and more effaced by the habit of blind submission to authority ... In short, both as to the building up, and as to the pulling down of the world-Empire of Rome, we have a right to say, 'It was because the Lord God willed it so.'
... Meantime, therefore, we hold the two unreconciled beliefs, in the Almightiness of God and in the existence of evil which is his enemy. To discard either of these beliefs, or to harmonize them, we find equally impossible, and therefore we desist from the attempt, and let both grow together till the harvest. If this be true in the Universal, of the whole scheme and constitution of things, we may reasonably expect to find in the Particularfor instance, in the course of European historysome events of which we may confidently say, God brought them to pass in order to promote the welfare of Humanity, and others of which we can only say, Why this irretrievable ruin, in which apparently there lurked no germ of benefit to the Human Race, was permitted, is a mystery. To apply these general principles to the case before us, we assert with confidence that both the arising and the fall of the Roman Empire were blessings to the human race, and that we are justified in regarding them as the handiwork of an Unseen Power, the Maker and the Friend of Man.
And America's purpose; why this nation has been brought to pass? It has been the American Nation's singular history to be recognized as a Protestant Christian Nation, indeed her history and founding based in Biblical ideals of personal freedom and liberty, and accountability to none but the Lord Jesus. Mentor and friend, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Pardue Sr. US Army (Ret.) states in a personal interview:
...As someone has noted culture is religion externalized and made specific. The historical background of American Christianity is instructive and must be considered for its influence on politics. Historian Mark Noll reported that in 19th century America "Evangelicalism held sway across almost the entire landscape before mid-century." Our friend Steve Wilkins, Pastor and author, has noted that before The Great Unpleasantness of 1861-65 America was known internationally for sending Christian missionaries world wide. This aspect of the fruit of 19th century Evangelicalism is confirmed also by Noll.
...With the rise of the influence of the United Nations after WWII foreign interventionism has become normative. At some point when the false gospel of the UN became dominant, the mitigating influence of what remained of the influence of Evangelical Christianity vanished. The Social Gospel with a genesis in the Second Great Awakening was co-opted by humanists. Thus, the UN gospel now has completely supplanted any other influence. Now, men completely ignorant of the fact that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, seek to export liberty to other countries. They are hostile to the fact that liberty developed in this country only because the Gospel of Jesus Christ was brought to this country by the Puritans. They think erroneously that freedom and liberty have been created by men alone and not the fruit of the Gospel.
I will not fatigue the already informed reader with countless quotes from the American Founding Fathers and documents instrumental in the birth of this nation. The evidence is overwhelming Americas purpose, her very tone and character, reflected in her short history and meteoric rise to global domination, has been to both model the truths of and deliver the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and quickly dying world. A shining city on a hill, as President Ronald Reagan once said. And even more so today, as we will explore later. Has she always fulfilled this commendably? No, as we, as citizens, are still sinful people.
Still, as Rome was brought forth and her cultural, military, and political influence instrumental in preparing the way for the genesis of Christianity, so too, in these latter days contemporary Americaand the mission of American Evangelical Christianityis mirrored in Romes influential first century saga and Divine purpose.
In short, it was Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States and speaking on an unrelated matter, who said, "I have the feeling that God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose. And up to now we have been shirking it."
But, no more! Why is this important?
The Spirit-filled Church In America ~
The Spirit-filled Church in America, especially exemplified in the Evangelical community, is, compared to the Spirit-filled Church in other parts of the globe, completely free under our Constitution to preach the Gospel, without risk of being persecuted, arrested, or murdered outright like many other places in the world. Likewise, the Evangelical Christian community in the U.S., although small, is free of denominational bureaucratic restraints and interior corruption that has hobbled much of christendom. From the corrupt Televangelist scandals of the 80's and 90s, to the pedophile Priest and child molestation disgrace which has shattered the Catholic church, to the mainstream christian denominations which are debating whether homosexuality is Biblically normative and should they be accepted and even ordained, much of which has been recognized for Christianity in America is simply side-lined and out of the game in impacting the culture. It is tragic, not meant to be mean and judgmental, but is simple fact. They are essentially hollow religious shells devoid of any influence, ...Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2Ti 3:5)
Contemporary Evangelical Christianity, on the other hand, represented in many of the new national mega-churches, is experiencing and modeling a Holy Spirit generated revival that is impacting the culture in all quarters, the empirical evidence in a contemporary dominance that continues to be a subject concentrated on and acknowledged in all aspects of present-day society. It indicates an uncontestable new Holy Spirit inspired work in American Christianity, in response to the corrupt rebellion of the counterfeit clergy which have over-run the old. And it is even today rising out of the vacuum of the spiritual need of the younger generationbecause God is gracious.
He also has a wider purpose in this contemporary revival, as first century Christianity comes full circle, after we address one other important subject.
Anticipation Of The Coming Messiah ~
Pastor Skip Heitzeg also addressed in fascinating depth, an objective historical account, the Messianic anticipation which was prevalent within the world and Jewish society at that time. This, too, is evident again in many aspects of modern day Christian and Jewish faith. Organizations like Chabad.org and TempleMountFaithful.org. reveal the further strengthening of observant Jewish culture. The Jews are indeed back, and they again await their Messiah.
Richard Landes, with the Center of Millennial Studies at Boston University, in his essay, What Happens When Jesus Doesnt Come in 2000? Reflections of the History and Future of Jewish and Christian Millennial Expectations, critically reflects on past millennial fervors that have transpired since the first century, the conflict between Jews and Christianity, and today maintains:
"... Right now Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and their fellow pre-millennial dispensationalist believers abjure any connection to this world of Christian identity, and point to their love of Zion as their guarantee. And many are not only sincere, but honest. How many, however, are only sincere? Five years from now, the Rapture not come, the Middle East engaged in political compromise rather than the millennial politics of temple building, their hopes for sweeping Jewish conversions crushed, how many, leaders and followers, will find the lure of conspiracy and hate irresistible? How many will turn to those who can recharge their apocalyptic energies with a war to convert or destroy the enemies of God, among whom we find, traditionally, the Jews? And how many others, not enraged but nonetheless angry and hurt, will allow these people a public voice they should never have?"
In my contacts with this Professor, I articulated my incredulity at his positions; he assured me he was simply addressing the possibilities of disappointment and Post-apocalyptic rage that it might be challenged. Nonetheless, his position, like most, fails to include the biggest qualifier in his research of this history: The modern day rebirth of the Nation of Israel, which the Bible clearly predicted, and which took place on May 14, 1948.
"And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God." (Amos 9:14-15)
The trend is, and continues to be in many intellectual and political circles; Christian and seculareven some Jewish onesto ignore outright or desperately delegitimize the existence of the modern day Nation of Israel. From those Christians who hold a particular prophetic world view; the extremes of Preterism and reformed theology to hyper-Dispensationalism; to certain Jewish groups who simply don't believe the modern nation of Israel was Divinely brought forth, the rising tide of post-Holocaust hatred by the enemies of Israel is meeting little opposition, again, globally in any Western cultural institutions (except Born-again Evangelicalsespecially American).
But, nonetheless, the opinions of mere men aside, Israel is there, surviving by clearly miraculous means under Divine mandate and protection through numerous past wars where they were greatly outnumbered, daily global political attacks through world bodies such as the U.N. and the European Union, and daily targeted by terrorist groups of every kind sworn to Israel's destruction at all costsand not fitting in with the world views and pre-conceived futures of many.
And good for them! Because in bringing physical Israel back into their covenant land, God has been raising up a banner which the nations hostile towards Him are unable to ignore, confronting the world with the reality of His eternal existence and His undiminished sovereignty. "It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left.... He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12) "And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. ... Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it." (Ezekiel 36: 23-36)
The Lords Purposes In Our Times ~
The current revival and rewakening in American Christian culture, expressed in the ascendancy of the Evangelical Christian community in the national faith community and the rise of the many mega-churches is, again, not without observable purpose in Gods plans. Whether one wants to argue it is filling the spiritual needs of the millions in America fed-up with the corruption riddling christendom in the nation or a national slick marketing campaign by profit motivated snake-oil salesmen promoting a particular brand of Christianity to exploit gullible and naive souls disenchanted with the superficial materialism of American pop-culture, there is only one logical conclusion that those who know the times can arrive at:
The Lord is a God of love. He is a God of compassion, and grace, and of forgiveness. The God of Isaac, of Abraham, and of Joseph, is a God of great patience and long-suffering, Who ...loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and it is His great desire that that all men through him might believe. (John 1:7) His love that "...shall cover the multitude of sins" (1Pe 4:8)
It would be against His very revealed nature; His nature revealed throughout the canon of scripture, that knowing what is to soon come upon the world as He has lain out in the Bible and the only One knowing the day and the hour, would not engage in an extraordinary and unprecedented effort by the power of His Holy Spirit to issue a forceful and definitive appeal to this self-destructive, lost, and dying world, before the events of the end times commence. And they are certainly beginning to commence. Such effort on His behalf is certainly not without Biblical precedent. And our Lord, a God of love, is unmistakably doing this within the structure of the Spirit-filled Church in America today.
Subsequently, this is not, nor should ever be misconstrued as a political movement within the context of the modern day American experience! In Exodus 20, when the LORD spoke directly to the children of Israel (and by proxy, the rest of the world), it was not a political movement. Likewise, when the Holy Spirit first descended on the nascent Church after the ascension of Jesus in Acts 2, this was not a political movement. It was, and is today, an event and period completely devoid of any temporal trappings; the LORD speaking directly to the world; intervening in the affairs of men; the continued execution of His plan of salvation.
This is also not meant to misconstrue the Church in America is better or more worthy than the corporate body of believers in this world; indeed, we are in many ways more culpable, having lived in such freedom and blessing in addition ...to whom much is given, much is required. Rather, as the Lord chides the children of Israel in Ezekiel 36 ...I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake.... likewise, the Church in America is a instrument of communication in a unique position today in this world, Divinely predestined to accomplish this modern-day mission. This is not because of us, or anything we could do, but in spite of us. We certainly deserve worse than this great privilege. But God is gracious, and in this writers view, His love is fathomless. Americas sins may reach to Heaven, yet His grace and patience towards us is higher!
Accordingly, this cannot but impact the temporal realm, as the light clashes with the darkness," in American culture; nonetheless, a friend forwarded me the much publicized list of TIME magazines 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America, and, although there were only a few I recognized, many are recognized to be politically connected. No, this isnt wrong, but former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrichs new book, Winning The Future, duplicates many of the same ideas that inevitably failed during the Republican Revolution of the 90s as once again top down social reform is promoted in Washington, rather than the ongoing grassroots cultural reform birthed in Americas pulpitsand guaranteeing Christians disappointment once again in fickle Washington.
Rather, it is Evangelical Pastors like Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA, and the Harvest Crusades, Pastor Jon Courson of Searchlight Ministries, Pastor Skip Heitzeg of Ocean Hills Church and The ConnectionOnline.com, Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, CA, and many others. These are the most influential Evangelicals in America today, because they are the ones single-mindedly spearheading this Gospel outreach to America and the world, knowing the times, and doing it very well.
Many, many voices and groups and organizations without number in the American arena of public opinion over the last three decades have been forecasting the demise of this nation, with honorable and genuine motives, or bitter dissatisfaction and fatigue with the status quo. Yet, after all this time and no subsequent substantial fulfillment of these portents of doom, we can only come to one conclusion: God isn't done with America yet. Specifically, God isn't done with the Church in America yet.
Going further, it was Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship who puts forward in his recent book, "Are We Living In The Last Days?":
"If the United States had a revival, it would have a far-reaching impact when the Rapture occurred. Think about it. The United States has a population today of approximately 285 million. Although some polls have suggested there are approximately 140 million Christians in America today, let's be realistic. Let's suppose that 25 percent of all Americans today are believers. This would mean that the United States has a population of some 75 million true believers. When the Rapture happens, don't you think that our country would be impacted if 75 million people disappeared? Imagine what would happen if people in every level of government, the military, the economic and business community, agriculture, medicine, and communications suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. It undoubtedly would have a crippling effect on our nation's entire infrastructure. Of course, once the Rapture has taken place, every nation will be impacted. Think about that for a moment. This could be the explanation as to why the Bible does not mention the United States in prophecies concerning the last days. Needless to say, I prefer this scenario.
I would only hope and pray that we will have some kind of revival in America and will turn to the Lord on a scale such as never has been known before. That is what we need to pray for in our country today. We, as the Church, need to do what we do best: pray and preach the gospel. We really need God in the United States today.
The Future appears quite bleak. What gives me some sense of optimism, some kind of hope, is the knowledge that a revival could come to America. This has long been my prayer, and I would love to see itto see the people of our nation turn back to God. That is our only hope."
Could come? This Pastor is at the head of one ministry that is spearheading it!
…So Doing ~
Gary Demar at American Vision criticizes Pastor Greg's book in his article, Why Bother if We're "Living in the Last Days"? "If Greg Laurie and the folks at WorldNetDaily are right, then why bother trying to fix a broken world that is about to be thrown on the ash heap of history? Why concern ourselves with peace in the Mideast? It will never happen this side of the millennium. Israel must be judged one more-two-thirds of the Jews destroyed (Zech. 13:8)-before things can get better. The only event worth considering is the "rapture" of the church to rescue us from this mess. So then, why bother with anything?"
This is a standard criticism by those who hold to a preterist interpretation of Biblical predictive prophecy, as opposed to a futurist one, and with the anecdotal evidence lain out by Demar, ignores the whole counsel of God. Jesus said, "Occupy till I come…." [to busy oneself with, i.e. to trade /// a deed: business, matter, thing, work /// practice, i.e. to perform repeatedly or habitually]. That is, to continually "be about our Father's business."
Furthermore, in Matthew 24 and Luke 12 Jesus teaches his followers of those "latter days," Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come … Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find SO DOING [emphasis mine]. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods." He then warns those who think their Lord delays His coming and are living recklessly.
SO DOING. Wise and faithful shepherds and servants giving meat to His household in due season. Daily administration of the Church and preaching the Gospel to a lost and dying world, no matter the circumstances. And knowing America's salvation is in our Christian pulpits, changing hearts and minds, and by that, changing the country. Why bother? Because we are mandated to.
Tom Pardue Sr., once wrote me, "The American culture is obsessed with salvation by politics. We as a corporate body cannot comprehend any other way of changing the culture. They do not understand that God changes cultures by the preaching of the Word. Nineveh's culture was not changed by Jonah getting elected king or arguing that Nineveh stop socialism or stealing from her citizens. It was changed when God ordered him to preach."
And Americas future predestined.
Mapping The American Evangelical Christian Future ~
The Spirit-filled, Evangelical Christian in America, active in a nation with a global visibility, still has the original Biblical mandate, "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) The American nation has its cultural heritage founded in that mandate.
We have relatively sure safety and security from Islamic terrorism as global radical Islam is reeling on its heels under heavy-hitting national leadership and the effective onslaught of our patriot military, and Local and Federal law enforcement continues to patiently roll up terrorist cells both here and abroad.
We have the social and political freedom to operate on behalf of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without harm or relative persecutionnon-existent persecution in comparison with Christians in other parts of the world who are dying daily for their faithif not access to the highest halls of government. We have unprecedented opportunity as the Lord spiritually "plows the ground" in these very troubled times, both nationally and globally, as people look for answers to the challenges of our times.
We have the resources and technology to not only impact the nation, but the world, and as has been lain out here, we clearly still have a mission that is unique and exceptional at this time which is incapable of being completed by any other element of the Spirit-filled church in the world today. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses... we have only to ...lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1)
Therefore, the only thing get in line with Gods plans and purposes for our times; the mission of the American Evangelical Christian community today being really quite clear. From the individualwho can certainly choose to remain on the spiritual sidelines with those cold and timid souls who will know neither victory or defeatfinding their important place in this work (yes, you do have a place in it), to the smaller local congregation as both leadership and body, realizing they are now part of a global outreach, both pray and seek to be that "...light of the world," (Matt. 5:14), to the larger churches, shouldering their leadership responsibilities and high profile position and that have the abundant resources and access to the technology and reach to impact the globe, to get on this new America/Roman road with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the anticipation of a work that will resonate through time and eternity.
In II Kings 13 Elisha was advising Joash, king of Israel at that time concerning the Syrians. He directed him at one point to take his arrows in his hand and smite the ground. The king struck the ground just three times and stopped. Elisha was angry with him, saying, "Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice."
Likewise, the Church in America today, individually, congregationally, and nationally, will see the same great harvest and impact in proportion to our zealousness in both grasping and taking on this great mission; our arrows of the Gospel in hand striking the ground again and again until they are shattered and then grabbing some more! It is the American way that anything worth doing is worth over-doing, thus may we do this high-octane Holy Spirit filled, loud pipes, full-throttle, pedal to the metal, and no brakes!
We have the ball!
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"The American/Roman Road"
American Evangelical's Mission in the "Latter Days"
One in a series - An American Rewakening ~
Michael A. Baker - Copyright © 2005
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