Men of Redemption

Restoring a Life of Purity – One Day at a Time

Archive for August, 2013

Following Jesus – What Does it Look Like?

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 28, 2013

As a child, following Jesus

Following Jesus sounds so simple, but to some it is a confusing concept. Following Jesus consists of:
The desire to follow Him
* Having faith in Jesus and who He is
* Accepting the offer of eternal life He extends to us.
It is that simple. Once we do so, we are agreeing to submitting or surrendering ourselves to Jesus, to pattern our lives after Him and to place our relationship with Him above our own will and desires. Following Jesus is a life-changing commitment to be taken seriously. What does all of that mean?

Following Jesus

Following Jesus is making a very personal, individual decision. It is a choice every human is offered and must choose through faith. Following Jesus is not about religion, since different denominations or religions tell us there are dozens of different ways to follow Him. Being followers of Jesus Christ is associated most with Christianity, but God never intended Jesus to be for a select group of people. God intended for everyone, from every nation, to accept His Son.
Following Jesus – What does it mean to accept Him?
How is following Jesus possible? What does it mean to accept His Son and how do we do it? The only way is through surrendering our all (no matter our nationality, gender or bloodline) to the one who surrendered himself for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

Have you ever truly loved someone so much that you would be willing to do anything for them? Many of us have said we would. Jesus not only said it, but proved it. He paid the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus gave His life for us. In return, He only asks that we follow Jesus. In John 8:12, the scriptures say “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’”

Has your life been a mess? Have you felt like you are walking in perpetual darkness with no hope? Are you willing to submit your destructive ways to Him and follow Him? If your answer is yes to these questions, you have the opportunity to surrender it all to Him. He can lead you into a better, hope filled, and blessed life.

Following Jesus – Can I be a disciple?

Once you have made the decision to follow Jesus, you can become one of His disciples. The word disciple actually means to learn or follow. You may be thinking that you are not good enough or worthy to become a disciple of Jesus. But the Bible tells us that He loves us all equally as Peter says in Acts 10:34-36, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear [honor] him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”

Making disciples of men
Following Jesus doesn’t mean we are without trials. In fact, a great many followers of Jesus have suffered tremendous persecutions. Paul addresses this in 2 Corinthians 12:1-9. He said, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That is why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God can demonstrate His might, mercy, and sovereign grace through our worst times. And He says that trials make us stronger. But as His follower, we now have Jesus to help us, guide us, and comfort us through our trials — large and small. Following Jesus brings comfort and reward beyond our comprehension.

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Our Manna for This Morning

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 28, 2013

Manna in the Morning
“A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O Lord, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright. You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip. I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech. Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You From those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, From the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me. They have closed up their fat hearts; With their mouths they speak proudly. They have now surrounded us in our steps; They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, As a lion is eager to tear his prey, And like a young lion lurking in secret places. Arise, O Lord, Confront him, cast him down; Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword, With Your hand from men, O Lord, From men of the world who have their portion in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure. They are satisfied with children, And leave the rest of their possession for their babes. As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” – Psalm 17:1-15

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Our Manna For This Morning

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 27, 2013

Manna in the Morning(Continuing from yesterday’s devotion)

“lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you. “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do–to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him– then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you. “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” – Deuteronomy 11:17-28

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The Tares Among Your Wheat Field

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 26, 2013

Tares in your wheat fields

Okay. So now, here I am on this journey to restore what I allowed to be taken from me through selfish behaviors and addictive mentality.
I have accepted exposure, which truly revealed my heart to everyone including those that I really love and loved me. The truth is out; I was embarrassed and shameful of the lifestyle I portrayed; now it’s time to make amends for my actions. This is a big step for a guy who had centered his life and thinking on himself for pretty much most of his existence. I mean, everything was all about me. But it didn’t last very long, and with severe consequences I might add.
As I surrounded myself with men of integrity and accountability I found myself having to share, to talk, to communicate my feelings and thoughts with these guys, something I had never done in my entire life. It was hard for me to do that. It was challenging, yet, I wanted freedom and was willing to do whatever it took or cost me at this point in my life, so I complied. After several months of this, consistently, I finally got it! It was, as still is, a part of my life just as oxygen and blood are needed for survival. I have my foundation laid and set for success in my recovery. This is my field that I have planted and I wait patiently for the fruits of my labor.
During my labor of waiting I learned that I needed to keep focused on the task at hand by watching my recovery with a fine toothed comb. I had plenty of accountability, and the men of integrity I surrounded myself with continuously stayed in my face to make sure I was following my plan for freedom. But I had to be aware of is those that didn’t want to see me succeed in my endeavors. I never thought that there were those who wanted to see me fail or fall right on my face. I discovered that these individuals were people who were doubters of my intentions, unequally yoked friendships and unbelievers.
The doubters were pretty obvious. They came at me with a vengeance proclaiming “You’re never going to make it in your recovery man. It’s too much for you!” They didn’t shy away from me but came right in my face with no shame. These were friends and family members. I was shocked, but after the pain and deception I caused, can I blame them for their honest feelings?

I shared with them my intentions and how I was going to accomplish this but they weren’t really trying to hear it. I guessed when my behavior had negatively influenced them straight into not trusting me at all I shouldn’t have expected them to believe me anyway.
I didn’t give it any attention so I trusted God to give me strength, and obeyed His Word; “But Jesus looked at them (His disciples) and said to them, with men, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.(Matthew 19:26)

Your tares
Then I learned about those who were unequally yoked with me. These were the guys who gave me the impression that they wanted to be in my corner and support me throughout my journey. These guys said to me “Hey Ernie, we’re recovering too. So we’ll help you in any way we can.” But as I continued in my journey and requested prayer, or adding an accountability partner some of them were still involved in their mess and deviant behavior so their support couldn’t do anything for me, let alone for themselves. But I said to myself, wait a minute. They are trying to seek freedom themselves, how can they help me if they’re struggling with their own issues? Then I discovered some of them pretended to support me. They appeared like they wanted to help; they looked like they wanted to help; but in reality all they wanted was to look like they wanted to help me and caused a stumbling block in my efforts. In essence, they really didn’t care about recovery at all. It was just a facade of friendship, pretending they wanted recovery and never really intended to help in the beginning. This reminded me of the Parable Jesus shared about the wheat and the tares. (Matthew 13:24-30) Jesus was sharing how the kingdom of heaven was like a man who sowed good seed (my recovery) in my field (life). But while he was asleep his enemies (unequally yoked folk) came in and sowed tares among the wheat. Now tares resembled wheat (guys who say and look like they’re here for recovery) but are thorns in my side. These tares look like wheat but when their fruit appears you see a huge difference in appearance.
And then there were unbelievers who I had to understand. These were people, family members, who never believed I could change. They saw the task I set before me but never encouraged me or asked me if there is anything they could to help or support me. When I told them what I planned to do they acted in disbelief and appeared as though this task is unbelievable in their eyes. So I couldn’t rely on certain folks because they never believed me in the first place.

But you know, I never cast blame on any of these people for any reason. I realize the pain, the mistrust. the deception, the hurt I caused and I knew it was going to take me a long time to make this up to everyone. I trusted God, His Word, His Spirit, and I kept focused on my task of seeking freedom through God’s redeeming love.
And now, many years later, many of the very same people have a very different opinion of me today. They see my diligence and concentrated efforts in allowing God to transform me into whom He intended for me to be. They saw the change in life, in my marriage, my family and other areas of concern in my life. The fruits of my labor were blooming. But I didn’t rest there. I wanted more of God and I knew He had more for me.
Today I’m still just as hungry for freedom as I was then, if not more. I want to remain pure in God’s eyes and in my marriage. The only way that’s going to happen is if I continue doing what I’m doing and not give up! Trusting God in all things for His sole purpose of glorifying Him, and Him alone.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7)

(A re-post from May 2011)

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Our Manna for This Morning

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 26, 2013

Manna in the Morning
“Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the Lord your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm– His signs and His acts which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land; what He did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots: how He made the waters of the Red Sea overflow them as they pursued you, and how the Lord has destroyed them to this day; what He did for you in the wilderness until you came to this place; and what He did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, their households, their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel– but your eyes have seen every great act of the Lord which He did. “Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year. And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.” – Deuteronomy 11:1-16

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A Weekend Prayer For You . . . .

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 24, 2013

For Health and Healing in Your Home

Father, in the name of Jesus, I come before You asking You to heal me. It is written that the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if I have committed sins, I will be forgiven. I let go of all unforgiveness, resentment, anger, and bad feelings toward anyone.
My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I desire to be in good health. I seek the truth that will make me free—both spiritually and naturally (good eating habits, medications if necessary, and appropriate rest and exercise). You bought me with a price, and I desire to glorify You in my body and my spirit—they both belong to You.
Thank You, Father, for sending Your Word to heal me and deliver me from all my destructions. Jesus, You are the Word Who became flesh and dwelt among us. You bore my griefs (pains) and carried my sorrows (sickness). You were pierced through for my transgressions and crushed for my iniquities, the chastening for my well-being fell upon You, and by Your scourging I am healed.
Father, I give attention to Your words and incline my ear to Your sayings. I will not let them depart from my sight, but I will keep them in the midst of my heart, for they are life and health to my whole body.
Father, You pardon all my iniquities; You heal all my diseases; You redeem my life from the pit; You crown me with loving-kindness and compassion; You satisfy my years with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Since the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in me, He Who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to my mortal body through His Spirit Who dwells in me.
Thank You that I will prosper and be in health, even as my soul prospers. Amen.

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Our Manna for This Morning

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 23, 2013

Manna in the Morning

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.” – Matthew 12:33-41

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Marital Intimacy

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 22, 2013

Intimacy ignited!

Marital Intimacy – A Definition

The phrase “marital intimacy” is frequently used only to refer to sexual intercourse. However, the phrase is actually a much broader concept and speaks of the relationship and connection between a husband and a wife. There is potential for a rewarding and deep connection between a husband and a wife that encompasses four main areas — emotional, mental/social, spiritual, and physical.

Marital Intimacy – Can We Obtain it?
Since marital intimacy can exist between a husband and wife, how do we experience it? How can it impact my life and relationships? It is accomplished as both the husband and the wife sacrificially love each other by concentrating on meeting the other’s needs. Of course, no spouse should ever be expected to meet all the needs of the other. Nevertheless, the marriage is a team that is made up of two puzzle pieces. When the pieces fit together, they will create a beautiful picture of what marital intimacy is all about.

Intimacy is accomplished as each spouse learns to connect with the other emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Men and women are designed uniquely, so these four aspects of intimacy will be experienced in a different way for each spouse. Women generally find fulfillment in the emotional connection with her husband and she wants to know that her feelings are both valued and shared. Women also enjoy mental forms of intimacy and mutual exchange of thoughts.

Men feel marital intimacy differently and often feel the greatest levels of intimacy through activity, companionship, and forms of physical intimacy such as sexual intercourse. The intimacy needs of women might be described as “being,” while the same needs in men can best be conceptualized as “doing.”

Marital Intimacy

Marital Intimacy – Spiritual Intimacy
The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes speaks of two individuals deriving warmth from lying down together (Ecclesiastes 4:9). The same passage provides a visual picture of a rope that is woven with three strands of cord to symbolize the intimate connection that exists in a marriage that is strengthened by God. From these verses in the Bible, we can understand that while marital intimacy is certainly about a physical connection, it is much more than that. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:31-31 about a mysterious union of a man who, by joining himself to a wife, becomes one flesh with her.

Where does God fit into spiritual intimacy? He waits to be invited to become the third cord spoken of in Ecclesiastes. God reveals Himself as Creator of the universe and of mankind. Here, we find that God has created human beings in His image. In other words, we have a human spirit that was made to connect with the Spirit of the Living God. God intends that we also join our spirits together within the covenant of marriage.

How do we achieve spiritual intimacy? We must first recognize God as the One who has created us and designed a spiritual life for us. Once we have entered into a personal relationship with Him, then we are ready to share our spiritual journey with our spouse as we seek all that God has for us within the beautiful covenant of godly marriage.

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Our Manna for This Morning

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 22, 2013

Manna in the Morning

“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” – Matthew 12:22-32

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Forgiving Infidelity

Posted by Men of Redemption on August 21, 2013

Forgiving Infidelity

Forgiving Infidelity – A Personal Story

Forgiving infidelity starts with admitting it. I know first-hand the anguish that marital infidelity can inflict, but not because I suffered from the pain — it was because I caused it. I was sexually unfaithful in both my first and my second marriages. Actually, “sexual unfaithfulness” is just a euphemism for “cheating,” and I definitely cheated on both my husbands.

My story of adultery actually began before my first marriage. I had my first affair with a married man when I was 19 years old, and my pattern of adultery and marital infidelity continued for many years after that. Ironically, I grew up in a fairly conservative household that frowned on premarital and extramarital sex, and I remember early in my teenage years wanting to remain a virgin until I got married. However, I also wanted to be noticed by members of the opposite sex, so I spent a lot of time making myself attractive and “sexy” for them. I felt empty if I wasn’t trying to attract a man, yet once I had gained his attention and had begun an affair, I soon grew bored and began looking for a new conquest.

I never thought of myself as the “other woman” type, but without a doubt, I was the other woman. There were times when I was even “friends” with the wife of the man I was having the affair with. My behavior was abominable, but I had myself convinced that everything was all right because I never intended the break up anyone’s marriage. I just wanted to see if I could entice a man enough that he would cheat on his wife to be with me. Although I know of only one wife who found out about me, I’m sure that I caused all of the other wives excruciating pain. For that I am truly sorry. “Sorry” doesn’t really begin to cover it, but unfortunately that is all I can offer at this time.

With my sexual history, I should have never gotten married. I cheated on my first two husbands before and during our marriages. I couldn’t seem to stop myself. Although my extramarital affairs certainly involved sex, ultimately, they were not about sex. My marriages were not sexually dissatisfying, so it was not sex that I was seeking when I had affairs. Instead, I was searching for something to fill the emptiness in my life-the hole in my heart that never seemed to heal. Some people use drugs, alcohol, or money to try to fill that emptiness; I used sexual affairs. I had what is known as a “process addiction.” I needed the “high” of my latest sexual conquest to feel alive-to feel anything.

I “needed” my sexual affairs until, at age 35, I finally found the one and only thing that could fill the emptiness and heal my heart for good — or should I say, “the one and only person.” That person is a man, but He is not just any man; He is the perfect man. He is the man, Jesus Christ. When I was 35, I had sunk about as low as I could go. A friend introduced me to Jesus and I gave my life to Him and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. Because Jesus is God, and He is my Creator, He is the only one who knows me inside and out and is able to heal me of my addiction. When I asked, He forgave me of all of my sexual sin and He cleansed me of my immoral lifestyle.

Forgiving Infidelity – The Biblical View

Forgiving infidelity is essential. God takes a very strong stance against marital infidelity. The term adultery is used 15 times in the Old Testament and 18 times in the New Testament. Every mention is some sort of admonition about or against the act. In the book of Proverbs, we learn that whoever commits adultery lacks understanding and destroys his or her own soul. “You shall not commit adultery” is the seventh of God’s Ten Commandments to us, and in Jewish law, anyone who committed adultery was to be given the ultimate punishment and be put to death. There were not a lot of offenses punishable by death in the Jewish law, but adultery was one of them. That’s how strongly God feels about marital infidelity.

Forgiving Infidelity – Where to Get Help

There is help for forgiving infidelity. God created the sacred bond of marriage between a man and a woman and He wants to protect that bond, so He gave the commandment against adultery. God knows that marital infidelity will tear a marriage apart, so He never condones it, and He always requires that the offenders be punished. However, He also knows that we are weak, selfish individuals who will commit adultery despite His warnings and commandments, so He provided a way for us to break out of our destructive, sinful patterns.

God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer the ultimate punishment of death for our sins. Jesus died in our place; He died in my place. I committed the adultery, yet God put His only Son to death for it. This is God’s grace to me. I put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and God wiped away my sins. I started my life fresh, as if I was just born (actually reborn through God’s Holy Spirit); and through the power and love of Jesus Christ, I was able to stop committing adultery. The strength did not come from within myself. Believe me, I tried to break my destructive pattern on my own several times, but I was unsuccessful because I was focused on me. I still had that emptiness that needed to be filled. Only a relationship with my loving Creator could fill that emptiness. Through that relationship, Jesus changed me so that rather than being focused on myself, my heart was turned toward helping others. As I began to look outside myself and see the needs of others, my life was no longer empty. I was excited (and continue to be excited) about my future of serving others and glorifying God.

Forgiving Infidelity – The Source of Forgiveness

If you are struggling with the issue of marital infidelity — either as someone whose spouse has or is being unfaithful, or as someone like me who was (or is) an unfaithful spouse — you can find the same help I found in the person of Jesus Christ.

This article is from a contributing female writer, giving us men a look at forgiving infidelity, opening our eyes to their side of seeking forgiveness.

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