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TGP Monthly
Volume 1

February 2005

God's Goal For Tough Times: Learning to Trust God When Life Hurts

Adversities will come - things that you cannot control, that are overwhelming, that hurt, that are unfair, or that you don't agree with or understand. Trouble and sorrow are a part of living in a broken world.

God does not cause pain, but allows it to come for a reason.

Someone has said, "Everything that enters into your life is Father-filtered." This means you are in God's care and that he allows you to experience adversity only as he will use it to accomplish his plan for you. (This means, also, that he is mostly protecting you from trouble. In fact, in Heaven when you will understand more fully than you do now, you will know how truly faithful God has been in this life to watch over you and to protect you from hurt numerous times every day, even when you were not at all aware of it.)

Your pain is not because God is punishing you.

Some pain that you experience may be the result of the wrong and unwise choices you have made for your life. God does not always circumvent these consequences, but allows them for the purpose of discipline (training leading to growth).

But he is not punishing you. All of God's judgment against you was taken care of at Calvary by Christ's death on the cross. There is no outstanding judgment against you to be punished.

"There is therefore now no condemnation remaining for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1

God's purpose for allowing troublesome times in your life is ultimately for your benefit:

1. They give you an opportunity to recognize your weakness and desperate need for God's intervention into your life to guide and strengthen you;

2. They give you an opportunity to surrender your concerns to God and to practice trusting that whatever the outcome, it will be according to his will and for your good; and

3. They give you an opportunity to experience his care and faithfulness to always meet your needs.

Counseling for faith-based guidance and support during difficult times is beneficial to healing and recovery.

Faith-based counseling will help renew your confidence concerning God's unfailing love and passionate care for every detail of your life. It will also help guide and support you through the growth process as you are learning God's purpose for the difficult circumstances you are experiencing.

Christian counseling is faith-based and from a grace perspective - and is different.

The Christian counseling format is unique in that it supports a step-by-step spiritual journey that begins with trusting Jesus Christ as Savior, is sustained by vital union with him through his Word, and leads to renewed responsiveness to the strength he provides for increased health and happiness.

Don Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #502

April 2005

You Can Know: The Certainty of Heaven

You can know that you are going to Heaven: God guaranteed it with a promise.

"God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began to give us eternal life" - Titus 1:2.

Jesus said about Heaven, "I am going there to prepare a place for you and I will come again and take you to be with me" (John 14:3). The promise of eternal life, however, is conditional. According to the Bible, it is received through Confession, Conversion, and Calling.

CONFESSION: Agreeing with God Concerning Your Need - and His Provisions

To confess means to "agree." The meaning of the word is illustrated by two people who are in a debate. Finally, one is persuaded, has a change of mind, and agrees that what the other is saying is true. Confession, then, means to agree with what God says in his Word concerning the following:

1. Everyone is born into the world separated from God because of Adam's disobedience.

God created Adam and Eve in innocence, but because of Adam's disobedience, God separated them from himself resulting in spiritual darkness and moral ruin for the human race.

"...through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners" - Romans 5:15-19

2. No one can be reconciled to God by trying to obey the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments, which is the summary of God's law, was given by God to define a moral standard and to describe a way of life leading to health and happiness. It was not given as a means to earn eternal life because no one could obey it perfectly.

"God's way of putting men right with him has been revealed, and it has nothing to do with law. God put men right through their faith in Jesus Christ" - Romans 3:21-22.

3. Jesus Christ died on the cross at Calvary in order to provide a way for you to go to Heaven.

In his infinite love, Jesus Christ, God's Son, came from Heaven to provide a way for you to be reconciled to God. According to God's plan, he died voluntarily on the cross at Calvary to pay in full with his shed blood the penalty of God's righteous judgment against all mankind because of Adam's disobedience.

"What the Law could not do, because human nature was weak, God did by sending his own Son to be an offering for sin" - Romans 8:3.

"...we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" - Romans 5:10a.

4. The blood of Jesus Christ is the only payment for sin that God will accept.

No amount of human efforts to perform good deeds is adequate or can add in the very least degree to the merit and power of the blood of Jesus Christ to satisfy God's righteous judgment against all mankind because of Adam's disobedience.

"In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" - Ephesians 1:7.

CONVERSION: Turning from Self-Effort to Christ

To convert means to make an "about face" or a 180 degree turn. It is a turning away from going in one direction to go in the opposite direction.

"Unless you turn around and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven" -Matthew 18:3.

Conversion, then, is choosing to turn away from trying to go to Heaven by trusting in what you can do, to trusting instead in what Christ has already done for you by his death on the cross. (What conversion is not: conversion is not turning from the "sins" that you think will keep you out of Heaven; it is turning from trusting in the "good works" or religious rule-keeping that you think will get you into Heaven.)

CALLING: The Prayer of Confession and Faith

You can make the following prayer your Prayer of Confession and Faith:

Dear Heavenly Father, I believe Jesus Christ is your only begotten Son; that he died on the cross at Calvary to provide a way for me to go to Heaven; and that his blood is the only payment that will satisfy your judgment against me because of Adam's disobedience. I turn from trying to go to Heaven by trusting in what I can do, and will now trust wholly and alone in what Christ has already done for me by his death on the cross. Thank you for your love, and for giving me eternal life. Amen.

"Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." - Romans 10:13

Don Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #504

May 2005

Finding Help for a Hurting Heart: A Faith-Based Plan for Meeting Unmet Needs
I. The Pain

The hurt we feel is not really the result of the adverse circumstances or people in our lives, as we may think, but the result of our unmet needs - the normal, in-born, multi-dimensional needs we have that have not been met.

II. The Problem

This means, our pain is not really the problem, but the symptom or result of the problem. Also, the problem is not what is present in our lives that hurts, but what is missing in our lives that helps.

To illustrate: Stress, commonly thought to undermine good health, is not really "the problem." In fact, stress (defined in the dictionary as "a weight or demand") is a good thing! That's why gym weights are heavy.

Instead, the problem is the absence of strength sufficient to support the stress or weight (in which case, the health risk is not stress, but "strain").

For example, if a demand is made of a muscle greater than its strength to bear it, it can tear or rupture. Also, what we sometimes call a stress fracture of a bone is actually a strain fracture.

Injury, then, is the result of a weight or demand in our lives that is greater than the strength we have to support it. This is true whether it is physical, emotional, financial, or relational.

III. The Provisions

The distinctive principle guiding Christian counseling is that God has provided adequate resources in creation (the soil and atmosphere), community (support relationships in the home and church), and especially Christ to meet every human need - physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

For example, in creation God stored minerals and fuel in the earth, gave fertility to the soil, provided sunshine and rain to maintain geological and other processes, wind and lightning for energy, and placed the earth in relation to the sun at just the precise distance and tilt, as scientists now know, to provide just the right atmosphere - without which life would be impossible.

In his book, "Mistakes God Did Not Make," R.I. Humbred noted that God colored the grass green and the sky blue, instead of red. He placed our eyes on the front of our heads instead of the back. He also put our noses above our mouths so that we can smell the food we eat - before we eat it.

God also vented our noses downward. (Favorite old joke: A man accidently cut his nose off, and it was sown back on upside down. He said he got along okay - except when it rained, he drowned, and when he sneezed, he blew his hat off!)

Also, God created our bodies with the capacity to increase strength through exercise (called "training effect"), to heal from injury and sickness, and to sleep. God also created the family unit in order to meet our affection needs. "It is not good," he said of Adam, "that he remain alone" (Genesis 2:18). The Bible also says, "He puts the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6).

And, most importantly, God made provisions through Christ to meet our deepest and greatest need, which is spiritual (to experience God). By dying on the cross for us, Christ provided a way for us to go to Heaven. By living his life in us, Christ provided a way for us to be healthy and happy (Romans 5:10).

IV. The Plan

Faith-based Christian counseling discerns the unhappiness (the pain), diagnoses the unmet needs (the problem), discovers appropriate resources for meeting those needs (God's provisions), then develops a strategy for healing (the plan).

Other strategies exist for meeting counseling needs but typically do not identify God's provisions. They are "Plan B" solutions (I call them)which minimize or deny man's fallen human nature, and are based on a strategy of heroic self-efforts to "work on ourselves" (a strategy of striving) with disregard for our need of God's enablement. This means our hope for recovery is, at best, rooted in a position of weakness (our fallen human nature).

Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

He said, "Come to me, all you who are broken, and I will restore you" (Matthew 11:28 paraphrased).

He also said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in the resources he has provided through me to meet your needs" (John 14:1 paraphrased).

Don Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #505

June 2005

An Open Letter to Newlyweds

Dear (Newlyweds),

This is a happy day! - for you and also for your family and friends. We can easily see how very much in love you are. We see also your love for Christ and his Word and are happy because we believe, as you do, that your relationship to him will be the foundation of your marriage and the source of your strength in your relationship to each other.

Dear (Husband), remember the central theme of our counseling sessions together: God's plan in the home for you is to serve and support your wife. You are not the authority over her, but the support beneath her. You are not an enforcer, but an influencer. This means: You propose, she accepts; you pursue, she responds; you knock, she opens. You cannot go where the door is not open. Be patient. As your wife grows in her confidence and trust in your love and care for her, she will begin to give you increased opportunity for influence in her life. We see this pattern for the role of the husband in Christ's love and care for his Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Of course, the husband and wife are in the home for each other, but you are the "fountainhead" of the home, and it is mainly your role to care for the needs that supports her health and happiness.

Dear (Bride), the central theme underlying your role in your relationship to your husband is trust. We see the Scriptural pattern for this concept in your relationship to Christ as his spiritual bride (also in Ephesians 5:22-33). This means, your husband has opportunity to be involved in your life only as you allow through trust. But don't expect your husband never to be a knucklehead, especially at first. (We husbands, I can tell you, grow in our understanding of our role in the marriage almost every day it seems.) Be patient. As he matures in his relationship to Christ, he will increase in his enablement to love you, to give himself up for you, to live for you, to support you, and to encourage you. Give him time to win your confidence and to establish a basis for your trust in him.

Dear (Husband and Bride), listen long and hard to each other's points of view. Sometimes one will be wiser and more perceptive than the other in the consideration of decisions. Suppose you cannot come to an agreement, what then? You should wait. Pray, talk, and wait until both of you have peace. Otherwise, do nothing. God will give peace to both of you concerning his will for your home. Do not try to control or insist on having your way. Be very patient. Take time daily for Scripture meditation, confession of need, and prayer so that your faith to trust God and each other will increase.

I pray for your continued growth in your understanding and experience of God's grace and for your happiness. Also, I welcome the opportunity to be included with those you have chosen and trust for guidance and support.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #506

July 2005

Grace Parenting: Building Children To Be Their Best

Grace Parenting guides a process for parents that begins in vital relationship to Jesus Christ, is sustained daily by the Holy Spirit through his Word, and results in a nurturing home environment for children.

The concept recognizes that healthy children are the product of a healthy home. For this reason, counseling for children always begins with an evaluation of the family system (the home) and includes individual counseling for parents.

Twelve words will provide an overview of grace parenting: portrait, pathetic, priority, pastoral, parameter, peremptory, positive, patient, parallel, persistent, protective, and planned. (I tend to use words that start with the same letter - even if they don't make good sense. Someone told me [corny joke!] that everyone in his family drove a car that began with the letter P. He said his granddad had driven a Packard, that his dad drove a Pontiac, his uncle drove a Plymouth, and he drove "one of them there Puicks.")

Portrait Parenting

The view parents have of God's relationship to them as their Heavenly Father, either that he is cold and judgmental or loving and attentive, will manifest in their parenting.

Pathetic Parenting

Pathos, the ability to understand or feel a child's fears or pain, may be the most important missing element in parenting. "I know" and "I understand" and "I'm sorry" are among the most important words parents can express to their children.

Priority Parenting

The goal of grace parenting is the child's well-being. It recognizes that children are not in the home to serve adult needs, but to have their needs met.

Pastoral Parenting

Children have multi-dimensional needs, including for affection, acceptance, affirmation, approval, attention, answers, and authority. They will gravitate to their parents when these needs are met, but will drift away if they are not.

Parameter Parenting

Grace parenting teaches children impulse control and about boundaries. It is a kindness to teach children how the world works - to drive on the right side of the road - before giving them the keys to the car.

Peremptory Parenting

Small children simply do not have the cognitive ability to understand parents' intellectualizing the rationale for expected behavior. Grace parenting 1) chooses for small children the behavior that supports their health needs and 2) expects them to comply because the parents who are the adults say so. The happiest children have the confidence that someone else is in control. Parents do not make their children happy by giving them their own way; instead they risk creating for them a miserable, insecure existence.

Positive Parenting

Grace parenting teaches children desirable behavior by clearly defining and practicing the process. It doesn't focus on failures and penalties, nor does it provoke, interrogate, intimidate, or threaten.

Patient Parenting

Grace parenting patiently endures. Parents may need to gently define and practice the same expected behavior "a hundred times" the same night.

Parallel Parenting

Mom and Dad must be in agreement. A united front will help support their agenda for the home.

Persistent Parenting (How do you spell "consistent" with a "P"?)

Consistent parenting will leave no room for confusion and will build confidence and cooperation for the behavior that is expected.

Protective Parenting

Children must feel safe from harm, but also to express their disappointments and fears and to make and learn from their mistakes.

Planned Parenting

Successful parenting is not accidental; parents must have a strategy. Good resources for parenting skills are available for research and thought. Sometimes the wisdom of older parents who may have parented by trial and error and failed is overlooked, but can be an invaluable resource to consider when developing a strategy for parenting.

Don Whisnant, DCC, LCPC
The Grace Perspective #507

August 2005

The Grandest Part of Getting Older

Grandson, Jay (Joseph, as he likes to be called), is a great kid! He's a compliant, quiet child. His teachers have found him to be thoughtful, artistic, and intelligent. He's a parent's dream and a grandparent's delight. I have memories of our walks along the park trail or in the neighborhood when he was a small child. Jay would walk alongside holding my hand or ride piggyback, laughing and asking questions - lots of questions!

God and Jesus: A Child's Perspective

Jay's a gentle soul. When he was six years old, he came to his mother and said, "I think I would like to do that." "Do what, Jay?" his mother asked. "You know," he said, "what you were saying about going to Heaven." So they prayed and Jay trusted Jesus as his Savior. "After that," his mom said later, "Jay began to pray a lot, but for some reason he liked to pray to ‘God and Jesus.'

"Sometimes when driving him home from school," she said, "I could hear him in the back seat talking to ‘God and Jesus.' One day, I heard him talking quietly and I glanced back at him. With his eyes tightly closed and his little hands clasped together, he was praying again to ‘God and Jesus.' He prayed for friends and family and then he said, ‘And God and Jesus, I sure love you guys.'"

Jay is the kind of child his dad says "makes you want to have another one. So his parents had another one. Wesley is also a great kid. He's loving, creative, and entertaining.

Arriving for a summer visit to our home, then three-year-old Wesley made it to the top of the stairs just as I came out of my bedroom. He was nearly out of breath. When he saw me, his eyes got big. I just looked at him and grinned, but said nothing. Then he asked, "You doing great?" I smiled and nodded my head yes, but remained quiet. Finally, he took a big breath, put his hands on his hips, and said, "Are we going to hug?"

He's a Hoot!

Everyone has a story. His mother called recently to say she and Wes had just shared applesauce for lunch and had taken their last bites at about the same time. She smacked her lips and said, "Thank you, Lord, for such good applesauce!" Wesley also smacked his lips and said, "You're welcome, Lord."

Recently, Wesley traveled with his aunt and uncle in the family van for a visit to their home several hours away. When he became restless, his uncle gave him a bottle of orange soda pop. ("I didn't know he had never had a whole bottle of pop before," his uncle said later when telling this story.) Wesley settled down with his orange soda pop, and for a long time, he was quiet. But then he moaned. "Are you okay, Wesley?" his aunt turned quickly to ask. "I don't feel good," he whimpered. A moment later, he rubbed his stomach and began to cry. "Oh, no!" his uncle thought, expecting the worst, "I'll be cleaning this van for a week." Then it came - a long, thunderous burp. "My fine now!" Wesley celebrated, "My fine now!"

Seven Great Guys Just Getting Started

Jay and Wesley have a brother, Thomas (Tater) and another one on the way. Carole and I have two other grandsons: Brandon, the oldest grandson and a fine young man, and Jonathan (Boomer, I call him), who also has a brother on the way. Seven grandsons! We pray for their families, their health and safety, and their future fruitfulness in redemptive service to others.

Don Loy Whisnant, DCC, LCPC
The Grace Perspective #508

September 2005

God's Guarantee of Grace: "I Will Give Your Rest!"

(Excerpt from sermon given in Akron, Ohio)

Scripture Text: "Come to me all you who work hard and are over burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28


Since the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden God has been calling the lost and weary to himself. He called through Isaiah, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters" (55:1). He called through his Son and through those who followed him. He used the woman at the well in John chapter 4 to call the people of Samaria to "come see." And God is using the church today to call troubled hearts to himself. It is the mission of the church and the work of every believer to call others to Christ.

"All Who Are Burdened"

He calls to those who are burdened by unmet needs. In John 7:37, Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty let him cometo me and drink." In Revelation 22:17, Jesus said, "Whoever is thirsty, let him come and drink of the water of life freely." In John 6:35, Jesus said "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes on me will never be thirsty."

He calls also to those who are burdened by the consequences of their wrong choices, to those who have been deceived and hurt by sin. Sin can thrill, but then it kills; it can fascinate, but then it assassinates. Sin makes bold promises, but then it results in big problems. Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death." James 1:15 says, "When sin is finished, it results in death."

God also calls to those who are burdened by the guilt and shame of personal failure, to those who are deepest in sin and furthest from righteousness. In John 6:37, Jesus said "Whoever comes to me I will in no way, under no condition, turn away." Man is not lost because he is too far from God. He is lost because he fails to accept the invitation God has extended to him to come and to drink of the water of life freely.

God also calls to those who are burdened by grief and sorrow. There's no night too dark, no burden too heavy, no problem too hard for God to solve. There's no wind he cannot still, no storm he cannot calm, no hunger he cannot satisfy. There's no troubled heart he cannot heal, no broken home or life he cannot restore.

"I Will Give You Rest"

Jesus said, "Come to me and I will GIVE you rest." He did not say you can earn it, or pay for it. God's guarantee of grace is "I will give it to you!"

Romans 6:23 says, "The GIFT of God is eternal life."

John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

The hymnwriter wrote:

"Come every soul by sin oppressed, there's mercy with the Lord. And he will surely give you rest, by trusting in his Word."

The destination of your soul for eternity and the renewal and restoration of your health and happiness in this life depend on whether or not you accept that call.

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #509

October 2005

GracePoint Counseling for Renewal and Reconciliation

I. An Appropriate Mission

GracePoint provides faith-based counseling for
  • Divorce Intervention
  • Family Reconciliation
  • Parenting Support
  • Temperament Counseling
  • Fitness Renewal
Its mission is to provide long-term guidance and support relevant to the unique needs of hurting people through individual counseling and group sessions.

Faith-based counseling is from a grace perspective and nurtures a step-by-step spiritual journey that begins with trusting Jesus Christ as Savior, is sustained by vital union with him through his Word, and leads to renewed responsiveness to the strength he provides for increased health and happiness.

II. An Appropriate Monetary Policy

GracePoint does not charge or accept donations for its services. This policy gives individuals and families the opportunity to receive counseling and support as needed without the conflict or burden of payment.

Also, this policy is consistent with the belief that God establishes faith-based ministries in the community according to his redemptive purpose as a resource for the flow of his provisions to meet counseling needs without expectation of return.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:8

III. An Appropriate Model

GracePoint embraces the principle that pure ministry does not exist for itself. This means that GracePoint was established to serve the counseling needs of hurting people and has no goals that would represent its own success, either organizationally or financially.

Jesus said of his own ministry: "I did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45).

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #510

November 2005

Why the Soup Gets Cold! It's a Law of Physics

Energy is not constant. That's why a runner cannot run forever. At some point he must stop to recover his strength. It's a law of physics: Energy must be renewed.

If energy were constant, motion would be perpetual. A golfer could hit the ball and never see it again. But as it is, he gets to hit and chase the ball, then hit and chase the ball again. Also, If energy were constant, you could eat one time and never need to eat again. Neither would you get hungry.

(True story: A man once told me that he could not feel hunger and neither did he know when he was full. I asked him how did he know when to stop eating. He said he didn't, that he just ate until he either got tired of chewing or ran out of food.)

Also, If energy were constant, temperatures would be constant and you wouldn't need a thermos jug. (Now you know why the soup gets cold: It's a law of physics.)

Energy cannot sustain itself; instead it diminishes or is depleted. That's why we die.

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall." - 1 Peter 1:24

We are all also like leaky buckets. In time, all the water (the life force) leaks out, and we die.

But not so fast! The rate of loss (aging) can be slowed. Although we cannot stop the leaks or live forever, we can be renewed daily to live longer and healthier. That because God has made adequate provisions for everything we need to be renewed in health.

This is true physically, but also psychologically (the soul - which is the mind, emotions, and will). Psychologically, we are renewed by the Holy Spirit through his Word (symbolized in the Bible as meat, bread, milk, and honey). That's why the Bible says,

"The Word of his grace is able to build you up." - Acts 20:32

"As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow." - 1 Peter 2:2

Don Loy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #511

December 2005

Brokenness: A Grace Perspective on Pain

Pain was not God's plan.

God created the human race to experience him. He had no plan or purpose for pain. But Adam and Eve made a choice to be independent from God and to have their health and happiness needs met in a way other than how he had provided for. As a result, they lost what he wanted for them, and began to die.

Pain is part of living in a broken world with broken people, and is unavoidable.

Since that tragic event in the Garden of Eden, every member of the human race has been born into a broken world filled with broken people. Pain is a pervading and unavoidable part of life.

Pain is also the result of personal choices.

Sometimes pain is the result of unwise choices. God does not always circumvent these consequences, but lovingly allows them for the purpose of discipline (training that leads to growth).

But God is not punishing you.

Your pain is not because God is punishing you. All of God's judgment against the human race (because of Adam's disobedience) was paid for in full by Christ's death on the cross (Romans 5:15-19). There is no outstanding judgment remaining for those who are trusting in the payment Christ has already paid.

"There is therefore now no condemnation remaining for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1

Pain is the result of unmet needs.

From a grace counseling perspective, pain is not really the result of the adverse circumstances (or people) that are present in your life, but of the essential needs you have that are missing. These needs are multidimensional: physical, psychological, and spiritual. They are also inborn. And there is no "getting over" them. Either they are met or the result is pain.

Grace counseling during difficult times is helpful for healing.

Faith-based counseling from a grace perspective is unique in that it traces the pain to the unmet needs, then seeks to identify the resources God has appointed (in creation, in community, and in Christ) for the flow of his provisions to meet those needs.

The focus and message of grace counseling is God's unfailing love and passionate care for every detail of your life. Its ministry is to provide long-term guidance and support for the healing process as you are learning God's purpose for the hurt and difficulty your are experiencing.

"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope." - 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (The Apostle Paul)

Don Whisnant/The Grace Perspective #512

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