Saturday, 13-May-2017

If your wife is angry and domineering, it may be her fault. But it's probably you, her, and Jezebel.

If you are living with a contentious spouse, we have several steps you can take:

  1. Understand what is going on spiritually
  2. Enlist professional help
  3. Seek God about this specific issue

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What the Bible says -- concisely.

The Bible makes it clear that once an embryo reaches the biblical stage of unformed substance, adoption, not abortion, is the proper way to avoid a grievous sin and minimize the effects of unwanted pregnancy. The precise time of unformed substance is not specified in the Bible, but it is surely early in the pregnancy. Further, the Bible is full of encouragement for loving parenting of young children. Remember: God is for you. He loves you beyond measure.

The Gospel

The Bible Gospel message is very simple: God loves you so much that He died for you on a cross, gaining victory over sin and hell on your behalf.

This good news is found throughout the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments. A concise summary appears in I Corinthians 15:3 and 4, the Apostle Paul speaking:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures

Sometimes human teachers take away from the Gospel saying, for instance, that our sin is not the reason Jesus died. More often they add rules and regulations to it, furthering their own agendas. But the true Gospel is very simple, and believing it brings new life.

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Pending Question

Chuck M asks: Where do we go when we die? When I went to a Catholic grade school many years ago, the Sisters taught us that when we die, we go to purgatory. I don't see anything about purgatory in the Bible.
Question about A General Question: Meaning of a passage
Motivation - Curiosity: Sincere curiosity
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 248, Sunday, 26-Mar-2017]

Hi Chuck -- That's a KEY question, isn't it? All religions have an answer for it. Many religions teach that we are re-incarnated, i.e., brought back to life in a different body. Some say we become infused into the cosmos in an mysterious, enlightened state. Others say we simply cease to exist. Since you believe the Bible, the important answer is the one from the Bible.

First, the Bible teaches that mankind is fundamentally different than the animals. Man is made 'in the image of God' (Genesis 1:26) and animals are not. There are many distinct differences between man and animals. Attributes such as wisdom, compassion, truthfulness, faithfulness, love, abstract reasoning, mercy, acting counter to instinct, use of tools, written communication, pursuit of happiness, righteousness, creativity, burying of dead, wrath, free will, art, music, humor, morality, rationality, trade, and a sense of beauty are 'supernatural' attributes that do not occur in animals, only in mankind. We call the supernatural part of of man or woman his or her 'spirit,' which is distinct from his or her body.

The Bible says that when we die, our body rots away, but our spirit continues to live. The most understandable passage about what happens when we die is found in 2 Corinthians:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:8

This scripture says that when our spirit is not with the body, it is with the Lord, in His presence. What is not clear in this passage, or any other passage, is the precise timing of the event.

Most Protestants say that the absent-then-present event happens immediately, and there are scriptures which support this view. Most Catholics say that there in an intermediate state between absence and presence, known as Purgatory, and there are scriptures which support this view. There is no sure-fire way to tell which is correct, because the Bible does not have a sure-fire answer.

I am a Protestant. I respect my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, and I know personally many Catholics who demonstrate their love for Jesus more than I do. Therefore I will not completely dismiss Catholic doctrine. But I will tell you why I believe the doctrine of Purgatory is faulty.

The Catholic doctrine of Purgatory stems from the Catholic doctrine of venial and mortal sin. Venial sins are ones that are not so bad, and these can be cleansed during a stay in Purgatory. The idea of a sin that does not fully condemn immediately, or is not fully cleansed by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, is foreign to the Bible. Sin is breaking God's Law, and God's Law is a unit. If you break it at one point, you break it at all points:

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. - James 2:10

Hence, to my way of thinking, Purgatory does not exist. But there are many Christian people who subscribe to the idea.

Seeking Bible truth is a good thing. But arguing over religious doctrines holds questionable value. Better is demonstrating love for God and love for others, for

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. - Matthew 22:37ff

Does the Trinity doctrine stand up to reason?

otis asks: what is the belief of water baptism in Jesus name only? Hear it taught in our church.
Question about A Point of Doctrine: The Trinity
Motivation - Curiosity: General interest; Curiosity: Sincere curiosity; Curiosity: Discussion with friends; Guidance: Not sure, confused
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 223, Saturday, 13-Feb-2016]

Blind Faith and Reasonable Faith

By and large, the Bible does not ask us to accept its precepts on blind faith. Instead, the Bible presents reasonable faith, that is, personal belief that stands up to reason. If the Bible operated solely on blind faith, it would be rejected by every person with discernment, and it would be rejected by science. Science requires that reason be applied to observed data. Many biblical precepts align with reason and with science. For example, consider the fifth Commandment:

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
- Exodus 20:12 [KJV]

Biblical faith is reasonable faith, not blind faith.
For the most part, biblical faith is reasonable faith, not blind faith. There are some circumstances where blind faith is required, as discussed in this article.

The promise 'that thy days may be long upon the land' is not always seen in individuals, but, in terms of human civilization, there is plenty of scientific data that indicate strong families lead to enduring societies, but weak families lead to societal turmoil. It is very reasonable to put personal faith in the fifth commandment.

There are, however, two important areas where we have little to go on:

  • The existence of God: the Bible assumes God exists
  • God's essential being: it cannot be described in natural terms

From its very first verse in Genesis, the Bible assumes that God exists. The question is not even brought up, nor are any explanations given. To believe that the God of the Bible exists requires some blind faith. Plenty of scientific data points to God's existence, especially the magnificent complexity of the Universe and its obvious need of a First Cause. But, without a small amount of blind faith in a person's life, he or she will never subscribe to the idea that God exists. It only takes faith the size of a tiny mustard seed (Matthew 17:20).

God's Essence: Both Personal and Infinite

Like the existence of God, the nature of God's essential being is never fully explained in the Bible. There are plenty of references to God's characteristics, e.g., His omnipresence, His omnipotence, His love for all people, and His eagerness to communicate with us, but nothing explicitly about His very essence. The closest the Bible comes to describing God's essential nature is this:

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
- John 4:24 [KJV]

God is like the wind
In John 3:8, Jesus likens God to the wind: you can see the wind's effects, but not much else. Aside from 'God is spirit' (John 4:24), the Bible has very little to say about the essence of God's nature.

The word spirit comes from Latin spiritus or breath. It has many different meanings and connotations, but most of them relate to a lively, non-corporeal, immaterial substance, as contrasted with a living, physical, material body. Hence 'God is a spirit' means 'God is alive but without a body.' The Bible goes no further when it speaks directly about God's essential nature.

In their quest for knowledge, theologians analyze the biblical text to uncover God's characteristics in an effort to understand His essential being. Per Dr. Grudem in Systematic Theology, Bible-based attributes of God are:

  • He is independent from creation (Job 41:11)
  • He does not change (Psalms 102:27)
  • He is eternal (Psalms 90:2)
  • He is everywhere (omnipresence) (Jeremiah 23:23)
  • He is unlike anything else (Exodus 20:4)
  • He is invisible (John 1:18)
  • He has all knowledge (omniscience) (1 John 3:20)
  • He has all wisdom (Romans 16:27)
  • He is true and faithful (John 17:3)
  • He is good (Luke 18:19)
  • He is love (1 John 4:8)
  • He is full of mercy, grace, and patience (Exodus 34:6)
  • He is holy (Psalms 71:22)
  • He is a God of peace, not confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33)
  • He is righteous (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • He is jealous of His own honor (Exodus 34:14)
  • He acts with wrath (John 3:36)
  • He does what he pleases (Psalms 115:3)
  • He is all-powerful (omnipotence) (Genesis 18:14)
  • He is perfect (Matthew 5:48)
  • He delights in Himself (He is blessed) (1 Timothy 1:11)
  • He is beautiful (Pslams 27:4)
  • He is glorious (Psalms 24:10)

Some of the attributes in this list are easily related to human personality (e.g., goodness, mercy, patience, jealousy), while other attributes apply to God alone (e.g., independence, omnipresence, holiness, glory). This means that God is both personal and infinite: a clearly unreasonable proposition from a scientific standpoint. He is unlike anything else we know. He defies description in terms of natural science today. He is supernatural.

The infinite and personal God of the Bible
Unlike every other religious system, the Bible portrays God as both infinite and personal. He upholds personal relationships and He pervades the entire universe, both at the same time.

The God of the Bible is Unlike All Others - Only in the Bible is a personal and infinite God found. Other religions have no such concept. In Greek and Roman Pantheism, for instance, gods are personal and interact with people frequently, but they are weak and frail gods, with many moral failures, far from infinite. On the other extreme, Deism portrays an infinitely powerful god who is so removed from the world that he has no dealings with humanity. In contrast, the God of the Bible interacts personally with individuals, societies, and nations, while, at the same time, creates, sustains, and pervades the Universe.

Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
- II Samuel 7:22 [KJV]

The Trinity: An Attempt to Explain God's Essence

Trinity
The concept of the Holy Trinity defies natural logic and reason. No attempt at drawing it or explaining it is fully satisfactory. Nevertheless, this concept appears in the Bible and can be used to refute doctrinal errors.

Early in the history of the Christian church, religious leaders and theologians undertook the task of trying to explain the unexplainable. In an effort to separate biblical Christianity from other religious structures, they tried to explain the essence of God's being as both personal and infinite. Various meetings and councils were convened and, at the council of Nicea (325AD) and the Council of Constantinople (360AD), a formal definition of the Holy Trinity was devised. In summary, per Dr. Grudem, the doctrine of the Trinity says:

  • God is three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
  • Each person is fully God
  • There is one God

This springs from many Bible references to God's distinct personalities as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These references are very clear, especially in the New Testament. Jesus, God the Son, was sent in the power of God the Holy Spirit by God the Father to solve mankind's sin problem by shedding His blood on the cross.

The three distinct personalities are completely explicit in the New Testament: Jesus prays to the Father, the Father is pleased with the Son, but He also forsakes Him at the cross, the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost and indwells believers, and all three are present at Jesus' baptism by John. These, and many other passages, point to God's three-ness. But, at the same time, His one-ness is seen in the baptism formula of the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
- Matthew 28:18ff [KJV]

The baptism formula says 'name' of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not 'names.' This is an explicit reference to the unity of God, as forcefully put forth in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
- Deuteronomy 6:4ff [KJV]

Without proper interpretation, the doctrine of the Trinity can be misunderstood as polytheism: three gods, not one God. Any polytheistic implication, however faint, can immediately squash the effectiveness of Christian testimony to fiercely monotheistic people, such as Jews and Muslims. This may be why a second baptism formula is found elsewhere in the Bible, most notably in Acts 2:38:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- Acts 2:38 [KJV]

Since both 'three-ness' and 'one-ness' baptisms are found in the Bible, both are valid formulas for Christian baptism. The two biblical formulas reinforce the essential nature of God's being, as follows:

  • Matthew: God is personal, with three distinct personalities
  • Acts: God is infinite, as one spirit being

The Matthew baptism formula emphasizes God's personal nature, and the Acts formula emphasizes God's infinite nature. Both are consistent with the biblical principle that 'God is spirit.'

Is the Trinity Reasonable?

There was a time when many scientists believed in the God of the Bible. They saw Him as a masterful designer, and they considered it their job to uncover the intricacies of God's creation. This has changed. The majority of scientists today to not believe in any aspect of the supernatural. To ask such people to swallow a 'Trinity pill' is completely unreasonable.

However, since its inception, the doctrine of the Trinity has been brutally attacked by religious people. Today's Internet is replete with Bible-quoting articles about errors in trinitarian doctrine, and these attacks are a good indication that the Trinity has much theological truth to it. For instance, the doctrine of the Trinity refutes doctrinal errors such as:

  • the idea that God changes His personality to suit the occasion
  • the idea that Jesus is a created being
  • the idea that Jesus is subordinate to the Father
  • the idea Jesus was adopted by the Father
  • the idea that there are three gods

To most scientists, the Trinity is unreasaonable. To most theologians, the Trinity is reasonable and valuable.

Rejecting the 'Trinity Test'

Today there is a significant downside to Trinitarianism: religious leaders use it as a 'yes or no' test for Christian standing. Some leaders say that one must fully subscribe to the Trinity to be Christian. Others say precisely the opposite, i.e., that Trinitarians are not Christian. Both sides represent straight legalism, as strongly condemned by Paul in epistles such as Romans and Galatians. It is a good idea to reject simple 'yes or no' tests for personal Christian standing.

It is not likely that anyone would call John MacArthur a liberal theologian. He is very conservative, and he does not use a 'yes or no' Trinity test for Christian standing. Instead, in Pastor MacArthur's book Saved Without a Doubt, he lists eleven interlocked tests for personal Christianity:

  1. Have you enjoyed fellowship with Christ and the Father?
  2. Are you sensitive to sin?
  3. Do you obey God's word?
  4. Do you reject this evil world?
  5. Do you eagerly await Christ's return?
  6. Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life?
  7. Do you love other Christians?
  8. Do you experience answered prayer?
  9. Do you experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
  10. Can you discern between spiritual truth and error?
  11. Have you suffered rejection because of your faith?

Of these 11 tests, only number 10 is doctrinal. All the other tests are moral or experiential. The doctrinal test is not about the Trinity, but about the person and work of Jesus Christ, as developed in 1 John 4. This doctrine is known as The Deity of Christ, that is, Jesus is God:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
- 1 John 4:1ff [KJV]

So a better doctrinal test for a person's standing as a Christian is 'Do you believe Jesus is who He says He is?' rather than 'Do you believe in the Trinity?'

One Person or Three?

In addition to the obvious source of confusion in the Trinity (God is three and God is one, a simple contradiction), the use of the word 'person' puzzles most Westerners today. Repeating Dr. Grudem's outline of the Trinity:

  • God is three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
  • Each person is fully God
  • There is one God

calling God a 'person' implies (1) He is able to form inter-personal relationships within Himself and with others, and (2) He has a body like every other 'person' we know.

Those who formulated the trinitarian doctrine probably wanted to make the first implication about relationships, but they did not want to make the second implication about a body.

In fact, only God incarnate, that is, God with a body, who is Jesus by name, is truly a 'person' in the way the word is used in modern English. So it is reasonable in modern times to say that God is one person: Jesus Christ, while at the same time saying God is three persons: Father, Son, Spirit. The singular personhood of Jesus is the very important doctrinal feature of 1 John 4, the deity of Christ, as outlined in the previous section.

Wordsmithing - One solution to the 'person' issue is to use a different word for 'person.' This was done early in the formulation of the Trinity doctrine, and is still used today, at least by some Christian theologians. The alternate word is hypostasis, or underlying substance, so a better summary of the Trinity is:

  • God is three hypostases (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
  • Each hypostasis is fully God
  • There is one God

Some people substitute other words for 'person' to describe Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Words such as 'modes,' 'titles,' or 'manifestations' are sometimes used. These words bring their own problems to the doctrinal discussion. We favor 'hypostasis' since it has withstood the test of time.

Summary

From a theological viewpoint the doctrine of the Trinity is reasonable. Except for the use of the word 'person' discussed in the prior section, it is as close as we have been able to get to describe the essence of God: He is a supernatural spirit, both personal and infinite at the same time.

quantum physics
The study of quantum physics, where the classical laws of physics seem to be suspended, may one day make the personal and infinite God of the Bible perfectly reasonable.

However, from the viewpoint of the natural sciences, the Trinity contains an insurmountable problem: He is a supernatural spirit, both personal and infinite at the same time.

The Bible does not change, but science changes all the time. The scientific answer to the God of the Bible may lie in the realm of quantum mechanics, an emerging branch of physics that, for the past 100 years or so, studies the universe at the incredibly tiny level of atoms and photons. Scientists are reaching conclusions about quantum mechanics that are completely incompatible with classical science. Perhaps they will reach the conclusion that God is both personal and infinite. Time will tell.

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Every day is a good day to praise God. What about formal worship?

Rey asks: What is the correct day of worship and why? I was brought up attending sunday church, later in life i was told that it was not the correct day of worship, which is it and can you give me any evidance from the bible?
Question about A Point of Doctrine: The Sabbath
Motivation - Student: Doing research
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 25, Monday, 08-Aug-2011]

The Day of Worship

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16ff [KJV]

In the middle of chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul rattles off a string of commands to church goers. They appear in the box at the right, and they are commanded without regard to time frame. We are to execute these commands continuously, living a godly life and acknowleging His goodness to us at all times.

So, based on these instructions, and hundreds more like them in the Old and New Testaments, every day is the correct day of worship. We worship God at all times.

Men, as usual, tend to cloud the issue. If a person or a religious group makes a big deal over a single day of the week for worship (usually Saturday or Sunday), and if the issue becomes so consuming that it detracts from daily, continuous worship, it directly violates the Second Commandment:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. [Exodus 20:3, KJV]

Instead of getting hung up on 'correctness' of worship, why not praise God at all times, praying, listening, and obeying Him with your whole being. This, most certainly, is God's will for all his creatures.

In a passage known as doubtful things, the apostle uses an example of two Christians who regard different days differently:

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.
- Romans 14:5ff [KJV]

For those who follow Jesus Christ and the New Testament, it is biblical to set aside certain days for certain spiritual activities, or not, according to one's own personal preference. This is true, according to Romans 14:6, only if it is done unto the Lord, that is, through faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

So, Rey, if you go to church on Saturday, that's great. If you go to church on Sunday, or Friday, or Tuesday, or any day of the week, that's just as great. The New Testament gives you free leeway to choose one or many days of worship as you see fit. Be persuaded in your own mind that you are choosing your days in faith, and that you follow the commands of 1 Thessalonians without ceasing. And, by all means, do not choose zero days for worship each week. That's not great!

Such spiritual freedom was not always the case. In Old Testament times God's people worshipped according to a precise, God-ordained timetable of daily, weekly, and yearly celebrations. Jews and some Christians today operate on such a schedule. As long as personal motivation for the Jewish timetable does not cross the lines of Exodus 20:3 or Romans 14:6, everything is fine. There is a comprehensive explanation of the Jewish calendar at the Judaism 101 web site. It is fascinating and edifying to study the Jewish calendar. Every Bible student should do it.

Be careful, however, of any 'Bible professional' who wants you to prefer one day over another according to his or her Bible-based guidelines. One can easily interpret various passages in the Bible to make it look like you are falling short unless you tow the line and worship only on a particular day. Romans 14:5-6 is the passage that neutralizes such strategies, which often have hidden agendas on the part of the 'professional.'

No Bible-based discussion of days of the week is complete without mentioning God's wonderful gift of the Sabbath day.

God's Sabbath

The Sabbath Day (Friday evening to Saturday evening on our modern calendars) ties God's act of creation to all people, not just Jews or Christians, via the fourth Commandment:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
- Exodus 20:8ff [KJV]

Jewish commentator Dr. J. H. Hertz says Jews are to treat the Sabbath 'as a day unprofaned by workaday purposes. In addition to being a day of rest, the Sabbath is to be a holy day, set apart for the building up of the spiritual element in man (Philo). Religious worship and religious instruction -- the renewal of man's spiritual life in God -- form an essential part of Sabbath observance ... The Sabbath has thus proved the great educator of Israel in the highest education of all; namely the laws governing human conduct.'

Since Jews do not subscribe to the New Testament, they are not free to attend formal worship by their own preferences as allowed by Romans 14 (and several other passsages). Only under the New Covenant is worship more free. Nevertheless, one-in-seven days set aside for personal spirituality, which may or may not include formal worship services, is a strong biblical pattern, and Dr. Hertz's advice is well-heeded by all people, Jews, Christians, and everyone else.

The rhythm of the seven day week, i.e., the creation week of Genesis chapter 1, is also remarkable. Hertz continues 'The proportion of one day's rest in seven has been justified by the experience of the last 3,000 years. Physical health suffers without such relief. The first French Republic rejected the one day in seven, and ordained a rest of one day in ten. The experiment was a complete failure.'

Christian theologians analyze the Old Testament calendar in light of New Testament revelation. The daily sacrifices of ancient Israel tie to Paul's pray without ceasing injunction, the yearly Jewish feasts couple well with New Testament fulfilment of prophecy, and the weekly Sabbath ties directly to belief in Jesus Christ in Hebrews chapter 4:

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
- Hebrews 4:9ff [KJV]

Summary

Most Christians want to honor the Lord with the firstfruits of their time:

Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. [Proverbs 3:9, KJV]

To do this, they go to church on Sunday, the first day of the week. Some want to follow the Old Testament pattern of Sabbath (Saturday) worship. The important thing is to love and worship God, King of the universe. If you have placed yourself under the New Covenant by surrendering to Jesus Christ, your specific worship schedule is up to you.

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Buying Gold and Silver

Thoughts and words are the currency of the spirit

What makes mankind different from animals? It is our God-given ability to think rationally and communicate verbally. How, then, should we think and speak?

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Does the Bible prohibit collecting interest on loans?

Is it ok to charge interest on commercial loans? The Bible says 'yes.'

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Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:45:24 GMT, unknown: 642338 AB4dbPxJm2i3I
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