Sprinting is fine, but life is a marathon

I walked briskly for almost 7 minutes and I’m winded. This is both comical and sad as I reflect on just last year running two miles no problem. What happened Jeffrey? Sprain your ankle? Have some really bad circumstances in your life that anybody would understand you not working out? Nope, just got lazy one day. (I think a pack of dogs is fighting a bunch of turkeys; who could focus?) 

That was just a brief paragraph that doesn’t back up the point of my post and only relates in as much that it had to do with running. The point I want to make is that sprinting is a great way to gain ground quickly, but it can be your enemy if you are in a long range situation. This just in: “Life” found by new study to be a long range situation. 

Attacking while you’re wounded (next blog topic) and sprinting after your enemy can both be detrimental to your health, just ask Asahel (2 Samuel 2:18-23). Our finite life spread across a timeline of eighty years of your blessed to see so many is a small thing compared to eternity, but in light of a week or a day it is quite the journey. 

Have you ever just sat back and thought, “Lord Will I ever be the person you want me to be? Will I ever walk out the personal purpose you have for me in this life?” I have asked those things. I so easily forget that God isn’t a genie and I’m not in a movie. After three weeks training in the snow, a cut scene of me with the family, and some inspirational music while I laugh with my mentor I won’t be ready for the battle. Walking this life out with the Lord is a journey and it’s going to take years to get where I’m going, but I’m going.

Sprinting is hard of course and has its momentary merits, but sprinting comes to an end. You tire and you faint. I started this blog sprinting. Anxious to simply “DO” something, anything for God. As I’m wearing down and panting He’s trying to say, “Son, you don’t have to do anything, and what you’re trying to do there is all wrong anyways. Stop, calm down, come over here and let me heal you up and love you. Love me, and the doing will handle itself.” If you are trying to get fruit to show up on the branch of your Christian walk you may be like me, missing the point.

Heard a guy say he was tithing his time, this can be more precious than money. A person can write a check or drop some money in a plate and then go on about their life without a thought of God. Give Him your time, that is what He wants and that is what we need.

“No no, not those sticks there, they burn too quickly.”

Man’s Man

The most noble of titles, one of the highest ranks of achievement for any man in the community…..”he’s a real man’s man.”

I will not take the time to speak to the generation that is at present in a crusade to dismantle the sexes as though they were a child’s play thing to be torn apart and placed back together in any mix and match style that you choose. Perhaps one day that group will have to struggle with the concept of a real human’s human; for the here and now though I will speak to those of use who still understand an objective male and female.

The MM title naturally will vary across different cultures and landscapes. Hunters, bankers, soldiers, actors, kings, villagers, captains of the sea, miners of the ground; all different, all the same. There is an overarching theme that comes up. Identity of the man based on what he is able to do. One can fetch food, one can fetch power, one can kill, one can play dead, one can rule lands, one is ruled. His identity is derived from his position or performance.

The problem isn’t for the man who does well or is in a high position. The problem is for the man who does not perform well, or who does not have such a high position.  More so even for the man who never learned some of the time-honored traditions of “manliness”.

You contemplate such things as your wife drives off to have the oil changed on your vehicle you can’t find the oil filter on. You also contemplate such things as setting your lawn mower on fire after the minor task of changing blades has taking the fight out of you. (On a side note, after borrowing the tools I needed the stupid blades finally came off and were changed.) I find more often than not simple “man of the house” tasks and anything mechanical are the bane of my existence.

Now I have to look into the magic bag of self-worth and find something to quickly paint over top of these recent gaffes of ego. Let’s see….money? No, that won’t do I’m neither particularly poor nor particular rich. Maybe strength? No, I’m neither particularly strong nor particularly weak. My career? My tasks at work while needed, tend much more towards the mundane and unimportant. I am for all intents and purposes average. This presents a bit of an identity conundrum for a man. Perhaps the men who sat atop a throne and have lost their knack have it worse. The men who were great athletes, and fell prey to injury. Men who were great leaders and fell prey to scandals, betrayal, or assassination. Men who were incredibly strong and suffered a debilitating disease. Men of great wisdom know for the wonders of their minds suffering a stroke. They may have it worse, but at least they have their stories of bygone times of greatness.

So the crux of the problem is this; a man needs greatness. He needs something large and purposeful, full of meaning. He needs a destiny. The problem is that we cannot find that within ourselves. Many of us try to do so, and through perhaps God’s grace or for his own amusement have some success. Ultimately though a man will reach a limitation. Perhaps it will be physical, maybe mental, or maybe even the mere passage of time will overtake him. I won’t leave you in such a dismal state though, for there is hope, and I know Him.

You see, my identity is in Jesus Christ. This cannot be shaken, this cannot be taken. There is no physical limitation, no mental set back, not even the passage of time that can change who I am in him. I am an ordinary man as much as I perceive myself; I am an extraordinary man as I am perceived by Him. He has made me unique, a masterpiece in His hands. Of all the things I could set my heart to do in this world, there is but one that will satisfy. What is that one thing? What is that meaning in life? To know Jesus Christ. All other stations and pursuits in life a void of meaning if not pursued in light of who you are in Him.

A small comparison of correct pursuit of the “manly” task of painting a picture in light of who you are in Christ and painting a picture in light of who you are in the world, the man’s man painter if you will. The latter paints and revels in what he has created only to lose his identity when an accident removes his ability to paint. The former revels in the fact that he has been given an imagination and that even though his brush may be taken he is still a work of art; his Lord the master painter, and he the paint.

As it seems I generally do, I have once again strayed a bit from the original idea of this post; however I hope that perhaps just one line in it somewhere will encourage anyone who has ever thought they weren’t good enough to turn to their father who deemed them good enough to create, love, and die for.

Da Best!

Color the eggs, bake the bread, feed me more of the ham I said! Another trip around the sun has brought us back to the most monumental holiday in the Christian religion; Easter. I apologize to the folks who can’t handle me calling it Easter. Pagan religion, fertility goddess, bunnies and eggs equal lot of reproduction; got it. I just so happen to not equate the holiday to any of that unless the bunnies are chocolate and the eggs are painted. If you do then you probably want to avoid it all together because anything not from faith is sin.

Now that I’ve got past the word police I can address the fact that this holiday is the most amazing of any we could celebrate. This is the moment that all humanity must address and decide how it will impact their present and their future. The day that Jesus conquered death and walked out of the tomb. The risen Christ. This is the crescendo of life’s symphony. The cross is foolishness to so many though because they don’t have a foundational concept of creator God.

I heard it explained in such a way as this; America was founded on Christian principles that guided our laws and education system. The bible was taught in school, this was common place. Our society as a whole understood the concept of original sin from the first human Adam bringing death to our entire race through our very nature. We inherit the sin nature because we are of that very same nature; any one of us in the garden under the same circumstances would have eaten from the tree and disobeyed God.

We lack any means to make ourselves righteous no matter how desperately we try. We have more in common with Hitler than Jesus when it comes to righteousness. This is why we need a savior. We tend to minimize God’s eternality. When you sin once against an eternal God the punishment must be eternal for their to be justice. While hell was not created for mankind, it is the only fitting place for us to be sent when we sin against God. Otherwise God would not be a just judge. The equivalent of giving a murderer a two month sentence. It just isn’t right. (Note right and wrong have no bearing if God doesn’t exist)

Our Messiah took that death-blow, that punishment for our sins upon himself on the cross so that we could be reconciled to a relationship with God minus the barrier of sin. He took on our sins and gave us His righteousness. This is the free gift that God offers each of us, to take our place upon the cross and endure God’s wrath.

Now if we put our faith in Jesus and that was the end of the story I suppose we would all thank Him for that enjoy our lives and return to dust at the end of it. This isn’t the end though it is just the beginning. This same Christ that died on the cross for your sins by the power of God was raised from the dead. He conquered the power of death. That same power that raised Him up from the dead will raise us from the dead also. In this we take comfort, in this we take hope. Our loved ones are not gone forever, we are connected to everyone throughout history that has believed in the work of our resurrected Lord on the cross and we will know them all in the life to come. He has promised us that we will live forever with Him and not perish.

That is why this is the most amazing of all the possible holidays in the world. It combines our greatest need (payment of our sin debt to a holy God); with our greatest want. (A life that knows no pain, nor sorrow, nor evil, nor sin, nor ending) This all comes together between the cross and the resurrection. Please, please, please take some time to stop and think on who this man was and what this event means if you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  -Jesus

Foul Weather Friend

Fair weather fans are chided for their lack of dedication when the going gets tough. Is the team down and out? Call them bums and distance yourself until they get on a hot streak. When they start winning again quietly slide back in and claim you had been there the whole time. I want to postulate that we do this in a bit of reverse fashion with God, we are indeed often a “foul weather friend”.

In the book of Luke chapter 17 verses 11-19 there I a story about Jesus healing 10 men of leprosy. When He enters the village they are standing at a distance and cry out to Him for mercy. He tells them to go show themselves to the priests. As the men are on their way to do so they realize they are cleansed of their leprosy. Only one of the ten returns to thank Jesus; the Samaritan.

There are many things we can pull from this story, but I just want to focus on one….nine really. Nine foul weather friends of Jesus. They were all, “Hey buddy take mercy on us; life as a leper is rough.” Jesus being the wonderful God that He is did just that. The only problem was these nine guys never showed back up to say thanks or give Him glory for the miracle He just performed in their life.

How many of us today treat Jesus the same way? Life is hard. I think I have mentioned before that it baffles me how people get through life without the Lord to do the heavy lifting. No wonder so many people are crushed under the weight and turn to all kinds of worldly sources promising relief. We just weren’t designed to handle the effects of sin.

Now to get back on topic, I was describing life without God, but what about those of us who believe in God and choose to live like the nine lepers? Foul weather comes our way, the storms of life begin to rage and we are in great turmoil and despair. “Jesus, have mercy on me; life is so hard and I am so weak, I need Your help.” The Lord steps in and rescues us from our situation. Do we go back and thank Him? Or do we say, “Now that I’m back on my feet and settled I’m ready for whatever comes next.”

We might pay homage to the Lord a time or two, but all to soon we fail to recognize any sort of real need for Him in our life. The adversity we were facing at work is gone, the troubles you were having in your family have gone, the financial pressure you were under has been relieved. The things that were bringing tears and driving you to your knees to call out to God; all the pain and pressure has been removed. Do we shout out praises and thanks or do we go right back to our busy lives now that we don’t have anything tripping us up?

I can only speak for myself and I know far too many times I have found myself in the company of the nine. Let us today decide that we will dive deeper into the free-flowing living waters. Lets make serving God and seeking Him a way of life and not the result of circumstance. If we will prepare our hearts and minds to know Him in the sunshine; He will be our umbrella in the rain.

photo credit: jaci XIII <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/34700343@N08/32653079762″>Rain and wind</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

 

Humble Christian or Comfortable Coward?

I have viewed this topic from generally two viewpoints in my life. I’m sure they aren’t the only two, but they are the main two that I often come back to. How to handle sharing my faith with others. Do I go about it in a manner that is the quiet church mouse, no pun intended. Or banging the alarm until there is bleeding of ears. I often hear people say things like; I don’t need a t-shirt to let people know I’m a Christian. I  understand that, I really do. It can also be a good test for yourself if you are living out your faith. Are you bearing fruits that go much deeper than words? Would the world recognize your Christianity if your tongue were cut out? I respect this position and view of impacting others; but I seldom take it.

I know a lot of our approach can be personality. I’m naturally outgoing. You would think going out and just talking to any old Tom, Dick, or Harry about Christ would be a breeze for me, but it’s not. I have all the same hang ups as every other person. I turn into the worlds biggest introvert. In these instances, I prefer the quiet; let my “actions speak” method. I’m not trying to say every person who operates under these pretenses is a comfortable coward; but from my own experiences at times that is an easier road for me.

Other people see keeping God as a background in the conversation as a polite way not to be too forceful with their religion. What if it was like this with your family? What if you came into work and started talking about your days off and the fun you had with your spouse/children/parents and I said knock that off you’re really offending me with the way you’re forcing your family on me. Would you comply and then separate conversations about your family out of your everyday work life? How can we be expected to do the same with our creator; the one who loved us enough to die for us, the one who suffered and was judged guilty so that we could be pronounced blameless?

I’m not saying we should be pestering people twenty-four seven at work or public spheres about accepting what Christ did on the cross and reconciling their relationship with Him so as to give Him glory and spend eternity in heaven……..but can anyone tell me why on earth you would never bring up the matter of where a person is going to spend eternity? Ultimately any approach is better than no approach, but in a culture where Jesus has to be eradicated from the public square make sure your audience doesn’t mistake your attempts at displaying Christianity for mere “niceness”. Occasional dialogue about the cross of Christ is only offensive to those who parish.

 

photo credit: twm1340 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/89093669@N00/1543680219″>The Wizard of Oz</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Is the Truth Worth It?

There are fights worth having, and there a fights that you just walk away from and let go. I’m wondering if the truth is worth having a fight over. Will you stand on an island and be bombarded by enemies for the cause of the truth?

Our society at present appears content on ripping its face in half. We are a house divided and we will not stand. People apparently are ready to set fires, assault one another, loot stores, and pepper spray those of differing viewpoints. Not the worst thing happening in our country today, but a sad sign of things to come none the less.

I am not going to make this post political. I don’t really care if you are a democrat or republican. Perhaps you are the noble independent who doesn’t play into partisan politics. Great, each and every one of you people need to stop and think about what the truth means to you.

Regardless of your particular thoughts on the political atmosphere of today; there is a truth that transcends left and right, gay and straight, black and white, pro-life and pro-choice, legal and illegal. That truth is Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. What does that mean for those of us that know the truth? Lets look at a few examples from the bible to see what is in store for someone who wants to rally behind that truth, for someone who isn’t willing to allow man to dictate to him what he must think or say, but someone who will freely worship Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

“Yea, and all that live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12)

strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith. “We must endure many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:22)

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:9-10)

Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are being beaten, tortured, and killed by their governments and countrymen. We have an incredible freedom of religion in this country, but it doesn’t keep itself intact.

Regardless of the enemy of liberty, be it the left with their continual replacement of God’s moral judgements with their own; or the right trading freedom for the hope of security via an interventionist military across the globe…..someone should stand up for it. When our liberty is gone, so too is our liberty in religion. On the current path; within a generation or two we won’t have to worry about making it to church on time, because church will be a crime.

photo credit: Ben Ledbetter, Architect <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/53041695@N00/32149647430″>Let’s just hope your meeting doesn’t go too badly.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Thank You

I was so hungry then. I was naked, destitute. I was a total stranger. I didn’t know you, you didn’t know me. Everything in my life was just so dark. You though,you are amazing. You took me in close to you. You fed me, you clothed me, you brought me out to see the light. I knew nothing without you. Now while I do know pain; I also know joy and contentment. Look at us now….look how close we are. It feels like we have been together for a lifetime, and I guess we have. Thank you for leading me into this new world, and leaving behind an empty womb.

For Mommy, from London.

Heed the Red Flag, or Face the Jolly Roger

We are all prone to failures in our lives. We give in to the demands of our environment, and to the demands of our own internal desires. Most times these are various vices spread out across our lives and while they are a problem, they are not a continual debilitating problem. Then there those of us who have vices that consume. They elevate themselves to a position of authority in our lives and command our attention. Habitual sins, addictions, human nature on steroids; whatever term you use the outcome is the same. You make choices that you wish you hadn’t and hurt yourself and others in the process.

This post is for those of you who have gotten free of a particular vice. Was it superstars of sin like drugs/sex/rock and roll? Or is it the more mundane inability to keep from talking about people behind their back or perhaps gambling your family’s wealth away? No matter what the problem is, Jesus is the solution. He doesn’t solve all these problems in the same way. Some are cured at the drop of a hat in a miracle moment, others are a long process of failing more than you succeed. The point is, once he has brought you to a place of freedom, how do you avoid going back into chains? The Jolly Roger is the skull and cross bones flag of many pirate ships that I’m sure you are all aware of. There are other flags that come up before you find yourself a captive of the enemy, red flags.

Red flags are the still small voice of the Holy Spirit prodding us away from temptation. The Lord doesn’t want us living in bondage to sin. Most people these days think that freedom is their freedom to do whatever they want. They fail to recognize that living in that manner leads to bondage. True freedom is in the fact that  you are free to say no to these sins. You are not under their power. That is the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, the freedom to say no.

The trouble comes when you have been saying no for quite a while and start to forget that it is the power of the Lord that allows you to say no and not your own. This is when the red flags start for me. If you find yourself trying to rationalize away your red flags you will find the enemy boarding your ship and taking you hostage again.

I know a major red flag in particular for myself is when I start to think, “Oh, I can handle that situation.” The second you find yourself thinking this do me a favor and run to the Lord in prayer, or to a friend to ask for help. That is the whole point, we are supposed to comfort one another and help one another overcome sin. If we don’t heed the red flag because of pride though, eventually our own strength will fail and our tireless enemy will conquer.

Don’t be a victim of a lack of attention to red flags. They are warnings to guide your life in the right direction. They are there to help you have life and have it more abundantly. Our Lord desires that we have the best in life, and the best in life is life without sin. Strive for that and trust His strength and not your own. Stay focused on the Lord and encourage a brother or sister.

 

photo credit: Free Grunge Textures – www.freestock.ca <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/80497449@N04/7377925440″>Jolly Roger Pirate Grunge Flag</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

3 Reasons I Left Facebook…You Won’t Even See #5

Happy New Year, and God bless. I hope your 2017 is starting out great. How are you doing with your resolutions? We are only a week in so I imagine the diets and gym memberships are still holding strong. How about you smokers? Stress got you down yet? Hang in there, the fight can be won.

2015 was my smoking resolution and if I made one in 2016 I’d say I didn’t achieve it because I don’t recall what it was. This year my resolution is to exit Facebook. I haven’t made up my mind if it will be forever or just for the year. If you made it to this blog off of Facebook it will be because I had my wife share it. Am I allowed to criticize the almighty blue “F” without everybody getting defensive?

People are funny. When you put it out there that you are a Christian and pleasing God is your goal; you’re actions and motives are suddenly suspect. Do the wrong thing and you’re a hypocrite. Do the right thing and you are ok, unless you take it too far and then you clearly think you are better than everyone else. For instance; when I say I haven’t drank since 2008 (All glory to God, by his grace and not my goodness) I usually hear, “Well that is good, but remember the bible just says not to be drunk; there isn’t anything wrong with a few beers.” These are the same people who will have to be sure I know that they aren’t on Facebook too much, and they just use it to stay in touch with family/friends, and to stand up for God against the army of wicked memes. This isn’t about any of you fine  Facebookians or the way you choose to spend your time. It is simply about a decision for me. I would encourage you just to ponder the reasons I’m leaving and ask yourself if you might want to curtail your usage any at all.

With all that being said, why the exit?

Reason #1: Time. I didn’t realize just how much time I was wasting mindlessly scrolling along.  I have been able to get a ton more productive things done this past week. Obviously it hasn’t been very long, but the difference is noticeable and I’m liking where it’s headed. Between this change and my wife’s knack for knowing what I need to be doing this looks to be a productive year.

Reason #2: Sensory Overload. I have found that I sometimes can’t silence the onslaught of memes, comments, and clickbait article titles bouncing around in my head. When you spend so much time connected, sometimes putting the phone down long enough to charge isn’t enough to disconnect. When I can’t quiet the noise even when going to pray or read my bible I take that as a good indicator I should probably just walk away.

Reason #3: Digital Bar. Facebook is like a digital bar. There are some fine folks there who just want to have a few drinks and socialize. The problem is the plastered girl shouting obscenities, the guy sharing memes of half-naked women, the girl sharing memes of half-naked women that somehow opposes the guy sharing memes of half-naked women (I’m as confused as you are by it, only militant feminists get it), the man and woman locked in a verbal death match over political policies, clowns, gorillas, memes making fun of fat people, people threatening to kill people sharing memes making fun of fat people…….I quietly “unfollow” my way to the back door and in the quiet sanity of reality ask a few friends, “You want to meet up somewhere else? This place seems a little crazy to me.”

 

photo credit: Andrew Feinberg <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/24095119@N06/2325659252″>DSC_0022.JPG</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

The Nothing

Do we have any NeverEnding Story fans in the blogosphere? I loved those movies. I recently discovered there is a third movie in the series, so I’m going to be checking that out. You can tell I stay real current with the flow of culture. Anyways, there was this villain called The Nothing. He stripped all the life away from the people and the world in the movie, he just sucked them all in. It wasn’t so much a he, as much as it was a state. A state of dying dreams, apathy, and unbelief. The spark and wonder of life sucked in and extinguished. I feel that way sometimes with my life. I have all these bursts of energy, hopes, dreams. Fresh ideas of ways to serve the Lord, ways to influence people; to impact them. Then comes The Nothing.

I am sucked in to work, to mind numbing apps, to YouTube, Facebook, to anything this world can offer. Anything that can distract me from the mission. The mission of sharing the love of God. That is what we are here for; to share His love and glorify His name. I know I’m only capable to do things through His strength and not my own, but I am responsible for obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You know when God isn’t going to use you? When you are three seasons deep into a tv show to the point that you would rather be watching that than take a call from an old friend, or have some company over. Maybe if said company wants to not speak and quietly be entertained by our magic  box on the wall. The only way for The Nothing to be defeated in the movie was for Bastian to immerse himself in the story; to call out the reality of the good lands of Fantasia, and to believe in it.

How do we break the spell of The Nothing in our own lives? Are you ready for the quick and painless brand new sure-fire way to break it? Me too, but that just isn’t reality. The truth is that it is hard, full of pain, and as old as mankind. Drawing closer to God. It really is this simple….bible study and quiet time in prayer. I was talking to someone today about how easy it is to fall asleep when you pray or read your bible, but I can sit and play games or watch tv until the wee hours of the morning. I say this to my shame. These things shouldn’t be, this is the opposite of the intentions of being ignited for Christ.

Sit down and make a list of what you do with your time. I have listened to people complain so much about “religious” people for so long that I am sometimes afraid to combine anything about my relationship with God to a time schedule. If I make it a scheduled thing I feel like I’m turning it into a ritual and being religious. We need schedules, we need structure. I used to think it was kind of fake to force myself to pray for a certain amount of time, or force myself to read a certain number of chapters in my bible. This isn’t organic, this is just being religious I would tell myself. Is the athlete that pushes himself in the gym when everybody else has left after practice not genuine? Is the day shift dishwasher attending night shift courses for a nursing degree just trying to be something they are not?

No, these people are passionate and have a desire to achieve something. Well, my desire is to achieve a closer relationship with God. To know Him, to walk with Him more closely; to be close enough to hear Him whisper. To really see what it is he has for me in this life. I’m sure the fifty year old would say I’m a young man, but at thirty-two I’m feeling the clock. I guess I give myself a ninety-six year clock when I imagine it in my head. (I used to give myself to 110 but some poor lifestyle choices have led to lower that) Realistically I don’t even have a ninety-six day clock. Dig in and press in now. Help us all Lord to wrap our heads around the idea of storing up our treasures in heaven. I don’t want to invest all of my blood, sweat, and tears into things that won’t last. Jesus gave His blood for the things of God, and that is the example we have. Lets be the best little copy cats we can.

Oddly on Christmas Eve at 1:54 am my post has nothing to do with Christmas, but then again….maybe it has everything to do with Christmas.

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