Category Archives: the nation

WHYB?

So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Where has Stan been?”  Well, I’m still alive.  That’s a good start (at least for some of you I guess).

The real question is, why haven’t you blogged in 3 months (or however long it has been)?  The answer is a good one.  You’re never going to believe this.  I…have…been…freaking…busy!!!

That’s right folks, my answer to my weird absence is, I’m busy.

However, in the midst of my crazy, busy start to a summer, I have found a few minutes to touch base with you about something that has absolutely been annoying me for quite some time.  That’s right, you don’t hear from me for months, and the first thing I say is, “I’m annoyed.”  Sorry for the negativity, it’s just where I am.

Over the last few weeks I have been flipping through radio stations where I live in Northern Virginia.  Let me just say, there’s nothing good on.  I want to make sure you understand my sentiment, that even includes “positive” radio.  Yeah, you know them.  The “Christianese” guys on the radio who don’t say they’re Christian, but they’re just so “positive.”  In other words, there isn’t much on.

Here’s where I think God is trying to tell me something.  I turned on the radio (yes, I hear you.  I need an iPad to listen to Pandora while cruising the highway.  I totally agree with you.) when I got in the car and started flipping through stations.  One of the first stations I landed on had a caller on the line.  It was a lady.  I missed the context, but didn’t take me long to pick up where they were.  Not a quote, but this was her story…

Yeah, I do that all the time.  One time, I asked my boyfriend if he minded if I flashed an attendant so we could get free parking.

Of course, I changed that station, only to find another talking about this…

Well, I just think you should do whatever makes you feel good and happy.  Maybe you shouldn’t be with your husband if he doesn’t make you happy.  You need to follow your heart girl, and do what feels right.

And still another…

The only way to be happy is to find it within yourself.  You’ve just got to look inside of you.

At this point, I had all but given up on humanity.  And radio in the DMV.  Here’s what God is telling me in my search for something decent to listen to on the radio…

  • Humanity is broken and we desperately need to be fixed healed.
  • The worldview that many people are living by is leading them to heartbreaking decisions and a painful existence.
  • When it comes to Northern Virginia, I need to help people develop a biblical worldview.

Here’s where you come in.  I would love to hear what you are doing in your ministry, para-church or other organization, to help people develop a worldview that will actually make an eternal difference in their lives.

Everyone lives by some worldview.  How are you helping connect people to a biblical one?

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It’s The End Of The World?

End of the world

Harold Camping

Have you heard the news?  It’s the end of the world.  Or at least, that’s what Harold Camping wants everyone to believe.  He made the same, bold prediction in 1994 and now nearly 20 years later, he is making it again.  His original date was off, based on a slight miscalculation.  However, he believes he is back on track again.

It would be very easy to sit here and spout off my opinion on this topic.  However, I want to simply let Scripture speak for itself.

Colossians 1:15 – “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through him and for him.  He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.  Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.  He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything.  For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.

In other words, Jesus Christ not only created the entire universe, but He also holds it together by the power of His words.  It was God’s intention to save humanity through His Son, Jesus.  It is this same Jesus who also said this…

Matthew 24:36 – “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows.”

There is only one thing that Jesus doesn’t know, and that is when God will send Him back to earth.

Acts 1:6-8 – “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’  He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”

The disciples are concerned about when Jesus is coming back to ultimately take care of Kingdom business.  Jesus in essence says, “Don’t worry about that.  It’s none of your business.  You just be My witnesses and do the work I give you in all the world.”

Matthew 24:42-44 – “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.  Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into.  You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

Let’s recap |

1) When Jesus comes back is none of my business.

2) Jesus doesn’t even know when He’s coming back.

3) Jesus’ return will be sudden and Scripture makes the assertion that none of us know the time.

There are a couple of questions that come to mind as a result of simply reading what God has to say for Himself (instead of assuming we can figure Him out all the time).  The first question is, where does this land our friend, Harold Camping?  What should we do with his claims?  Where do we land on this issue?

Another question, and by far the more urgent of the two, is, what are you doing with your time?  If you are a follower of Christ, did you live life today like you were concerned about the coming of Christ?  Or did you go through life today assuming that just like yesterday, Jesus wouldn’t return?  Are you living as if your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will spend eternity without God if you don’t do something?  Or are you assuming that you will always have another day?

Have you explored the claims of Christ thoroughly enough?

Have you given your life to Christ and submitted to the will of God through baptism?  (Acts 2:38)

If you are a follower of Christ, I want to challenge you to live as if Jesus will come back at any time, day or night.  Be careful listening to so-called “prophets” who proclaim the end of the world.  Scripture has a pretty clear teaching on that.  However, it is also clear in its teaching that we need to live life everyday as if it is the last.

What does that mean for you?

Well, I plan to write again sometime after 6:00 pm tomorrow night.  If you don’t hear from me, just assume you missed the train.  hahah  =)

Osama Bin Laden And The Christian’s Response!

President Obama

The news hit late at night on May 1st, 2011.  The President of the United States of America announces that a very strategic strike by covert military forces had lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden.  The mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on the United States.  The mastermind behind hundreds of other attacks, leaving thousands dead in his wake.

At the onset of the news, I was so excited.  I’m so thankful to the countless men and women serving our nation in the military.  I’m so thankful that nearly a decade of work has paid off for them.  I’m so thankful that they didn’t quit.  I’m so thankful to the President of the United States for not giving up and for allowing us to find him.

Then I woke up Monday morning.  I felt different.  I wasn’t sure what I really felt or which was right.  My thoughts shifted to, “I’m a Christian before I’m an American.  Is it okay for me to be glad this murderer is dead?  How would Jesus have responded?”  I was so confused and not sure what to feel about the death of this man.

I have gone back and forth on this issue most of the day.  I have read Facebook posts detailing each person’s, personal opinions.  I have read the arguments.  I have even watched the videos on YouTube that are already saying the Government invented Osama Bin Laden and that he wasn’t even a real person (crazy people).  I wish I could say that I have some solid answer, but truthfully I’m still wondering what to think.

While I think some more, here are a couple of blogs from two men I respect and who are much smarter than me.  Read their thoughts here and here.

Here is where I land |

I am happy that a mass murderer is no more!

I am happy that we finally got the man who killed thousands of Americans in a matter of hours.

I am happy about that.

But…

I am sad that another soul has likely gone into eternity without Jesus as his Advocate.

I am sad that he could not be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some of you land on one side of this argument or the other.  Some of you aren’t struggling with this at all.  And that’s okay.  You don’t have to be.  I’m not telling you how to think about this by any stretch.  However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to wrestle with something I am wrestling with.  From the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself.  If you are diving in deep, becoming more like Christ, tell me these words of His aren’t hard to wrestle with.

Matthew 5:44-45…

But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

I am glad that Osama Bin Laden can never hurt another human being again!  Praise God for that.

I am sad that he met God without knowing Jesus!

What do you think?

An Anointing!

Exponential Conference

It was the final session at Exponential Conference 2011.  Matt Chandler was the main speaker (I’ll have more to say about him in a later post).  Exponential ends with a bang each year.  This year was no different.  The plan was to have a prayer and anointing time with church planters and teams that wanted to be prayed with before leaving the conference.  The New Life staff team was asked to help with the prayer and anointing.

I stood backstage awaiting instruction.  Our team listened as the session was talked through and how everything would go.  I left with a small tube of oil as did the rest of our team.  As we sat through the service, something began to nag at me.  I wasn’t sure I was ready for this.  Who was I to pray with and anoint these people, these church planters and leaders.  The more I thought about it, the more inadequate I began to feel.  In fact, I sent a text message to one of our guys who was sitting behind me.  It said…

I don’t feel qualified to anoint.  God has much work to do on me still.

His reply was fantastic and really helped me to make one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Up to you.  Question isn’t whether you have it all figured out, but whether you can be God’s agent in blessing these pastors.  If you decide to pass, no worries.

I decided that I would go for it.  I wanted to be up there with our team, praying for all these men and women who were getting ready to start a new church or had just gotten underway.

When the time came, I went to my spot with the rest of the people set aside for this role.  People began to flow forward by the hundreds.  I heard stories from church planters who were tired and worn out.  I heard stories from those who were afraid and anxious about what was coming their way.  I met teams of people who were working together to make an impact in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Orlando.  I met one woman who was on a team trying to plant churches in Canada.  I was able to pray with them and put some oil on their forehead.

I don’t know how everyone else felt.  I can only speak for myself.  What we did for those people, praying with and for them, maybe accomplished as much, if not more, for me than it did for them.  I was blown away by the stories and by what God is up to in our world.  I was given a fresh sense of the fact that, it’s not about me.  It’s all about God and what He is doing.

I am so thankful that I went for it.  I’m so thankful that the man I sent my text to, didn’t just give me an excuse to get out of it.  Instead, he challenged me to bless others.  God worked in my heart and soul through praying for others.  It was an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (except having my wife beside me when all this happened).

If you’re out there, working in ministry, church plants, leadership team, etc, I want to hear from you.  I want to hear your story.  I want to know how I can pray for and encourage you.

God is doing big things my friends.  Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I assure you, God is winning the war!

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!

Keep it up, church!

Keep it up!

Exponential Conference 2011!

Exponential

Today was an amazing day!  The opportunities to learn were amazing and the chance to meet some very cool people is simply fun.

I sat amazed today.  A large stage filled with speakers who are inspiring in the church world.  Names like; Alan Hirsch, Francis Chan, Matt Carter, Neil Cole, Ed Stetzer and more.  There aren’t many things that are obvious to me, but one very clear thing slammed into my face today; God is amazing!

God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and I’m so thankful to Him for all He is allowing me to see, learn and do.  I pray that I will be wise and use His grace to reach as many people for Christ as I possibly can.

As I listened to many speakers today, here are a couple of things that I picked up.

  1. “Everywhere you go, that’s where the church is!”  -Rob Wegner, Granger Community Church
  2. “If you want a disciple making movement, you have to have the Lord’s blessing!”  -Jim Putman, Real Life Ministries
  3. “Don’t plant churches.  Plant Jesus!”  -Neil Cole, CMA Resources

When all was said and done, I developed a challenge for myself.  I’m not going to tell you what that is just yet.  Maybe some day.  For now, it’s a personal challenge that God and I are working on.  I believe that God is up to something big.  And I hope He has in mind to allow me to be even a small part of it.

And today also held a few fun surprises.  It was very cool to sit in a room with 75 church leaders and planters from around the country and world, to listen to Rick Warren share some inspiring vision stuff for the church.  It was also fun to shoot a video with him.  No, really.

I’m very excited about what God is doing through church planting.

I’m very excited that I get to work closely with people who are doing some really cool things.

I am humbled that God even lets me near this stuff.

Typically, I’m scared I’ll just mess it up.  Which is very likely.

Thanks again, God, for being so gracious to me.

And thanks to all those who have made this conference possible.

What are some of your favorite things, that you have learned at different conferences, classes, seminars, books, etc?

What pieces of knowledge have been the most valuable for you in ministry?

Take The Real Man Challenge!

Let’s just be honest, many men don’t truly value their wives.  Let me be more honest, I have not always valued my wife the way God expects me to.  For that, I am eternally in debt to my amazing wife.

My guess is that most of you who read this blog have probably heard a song by Bruno Mars called, “Just The Way Your Are.”  I’m not necessarily a fan of Bruno Mars personally, but I truly enjoy this song and wish that all men felt this way about their wives.

Bruno Mars

I want to challenge every man out there who has a spouse, is engaged or who would like to be married some day; when you have a wife, cherish her, love her, sacrifice for her, die on the side of a mountain for her.  It doesn’t matter to me if you are on to your second or third marriage (or more), but if you will love your wife the way God intends, you will see your marriage bloom into something amazing.

Ephesians 5 offers some guiding principles.  Some people take offense to them.  Men believe they can never live up to them.  But let me tell you where God stands on your marriage.  God says this in Ephesians 5:25-27 (Message)…

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.

Your love for your wife should reflect the love Jesus has for the church.  Jesus died for the church!

Your love for your wife should make her whole and complete.  Does your love for her leave her feeling as if she is whole and complete?  Or does she feel like something is missing?

Your love for your wife should bring out her best to your family and the world.  How do you speak about your wife to your friends, neighbors and co-workers?  Is she the “old ball and chain?”  Or is she so much more than that to you?

Your love for your wife should bring out the best in her.  If something isn’t right, don’t blame her first.  Look at yourself and ask if you’re doing everything in your power to bring out the best in her or are you putting her in no-win situations.

Your love for your wife should have her looking holy, blameless and radiant to everyone on the planet.  Can you say that you do that for your wife?

This passage is a great challenge.  I believe that if men took it on fully, they would find the most satisfying and rewarding relationship with their wives.  Everything would change if men would follow through on their role in the family.  I wish I could say that I have lived this perfectly.  I strive for this standard, but often I fall miserably short.

I mentioned Bruno Mars because I think that men (and women) go into a marriage or relationship thinking the other person will change.  We often view the other as a project or someone we can fix.  And when that philosophy doesn’t pan out, we give up.  The relationship ends.  And in many cases, the lives of those involved will never be the same.

So I’m posting the Bruno Mars song (I can’t vouch for comments on YouTube nor can I vouch for the ads).  You should listen to it.  Bruno isn’t perfect either I’m sure, but the words say a lot about how men should look at their wives (not other women walking by, by the way).  And at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I have even imagined Jesus singing this song to the church.  When the church is on its game, smiling like Jesus knows we can, the whole world takes notice.

God has given you a helper, men.  And when you treat her the way God expects, you will not experience a better relationship with anyone, ever, on this planet.  So get out there and love your wife like you’re supposed to.  Sacrifice for her.  Bring out the best in her.  Never leave her.

Poke The Box!

I opened my mail today and found my own copy of Seth Godin’s latest release, “Poke The Box.”  It came from amazon.com a lot quicker than I thought it would.  I opened it and began to read.  Then I kept reading.  Then I read some more.  In between a couple of fights, dinner and bedtime, I read some more.  Before I knew it, I had read the entire, eighty-four page, manifesto in one sitting.  I absolutely consumed that book.  Just to keep it real, it was a fairly simple read.  However, the content was more than that.  It was a great challenge.  A challenge and a call to our generation to, “Go.”  A challenge to initiate.

In his New York Times article called, “They Weren’t Careful What They Hoped For,” Barnaby Feder used an early example of the term, “slacktivism.”  Slacktivism is defined as, “the desire people have to do something good without getting out of their chair (Feder 2002).”  In other words, we don’t lack the market to make a great change.  We don’t lack the world that needs great change.  We don’t lack the resources or the network.  We don’t lack the finances or even the avenues by which we can employ a great change.  What we lack is the initiative.

I once changed my Facebook profile picture to one with a pink ribbon on it for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

I post links on my Twitter and Facebook accounts that lead people to great articles and stories about grand causes.

I watch videos on YouTube that have to do with great causes and sometimes if I’m really motivated, I click the “thumbs up” button.

All of those things are good, but they don’t require any initiative to actually create a change in the world.  There must be more.  In fact, there has to be more.  Now, I need to actually DO something with what I know.

I haven’t blogged in quite awhile, but I will try to post more of my thoughts on this book soon.  For now, I will leave you with one of the quotes from the second page of the book.

Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn’t do.  If you lived in that world, what would you do?  Go.  Do that.

So, what would you do?

Poke The Box

Top 5!

I wanted to “interrupt” this blog to share with you my “Top 5” Super Bowl commercials from this year.  Why would I do such a thing?  Well, because when I registered my blog at WordPress, I didn’t give you the password.  This means, I get to interrupt my blog any time I want for fun stuff like this.  Plus, I couldn’t choose just one this year.  I liked a lot of them.  So, without further adieu, I present to you my “Top 5” favorite, Super Bowl commercials from Super Bowl 45.

#5 – NFL Best Fans Ever!

#4 – Doritos – House Sitting!

#3 – Snickers – Logging!

#2 – Volkswagen – The Force!

#1 – Chrysler – Imported from Detroit!

 

There you have it.  My top 5, favorite Super Bowl commercials from this year.

Let me know what you think.

Which ones were your favorites?

Missional Doesn’t Equal “New!”

I started a discussion on missional communities last week.  Mostly, I just wanted to take time to share some of my thoughts and ideas on them.  Missional communities (MC) were first experimented with in the late 1980’s in London.  The idea was to create groups of 30-50 who were aligned around a common mission.  That mission could be feeding the hungry in a particular area of town.  That mission could be to clothe the people who had very little.  It could be whatever they believed God was calling them to do.  As this idea spread around Europe, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that the idea finally came to the States.  Once here, a few people have been leading the way in “re”implementing this “new” idea.

London at NightAt the beginning of the year, I began a reading plan on YouVersion to read through the Bible in a year.  I chose the chronological reading plan because I wanted to be able to read the Bible more like a story, with everything in order as it happened.  I began to read and I came to the book of Exodus.  I have started Exodus before.  It’s not my favorite book.  The first twenty chapters or so are pretty cool.  Lots of action, you could even make a movie out of it.  Someone should do that.  But after that, it starts to get a little boring.  So I was a little nervous about being able to get all the way through without faltering.  What I found was incredible.  As I prayed through the “boring parts,” God began to show me something that I believe is incredible.  MC’s are not a “new” idea.

Exodus 35:29 (NLT) – “So the people of Israel—every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the Lord had given them through Moses—brought their gifts and gave them freely to the Lord.

This was an entire community of people, focusing on an area in which they had a passion and were gifted and they used it to complete a work the Lord had shown them through their visionary leader, Moses.  They not only did the work, but they “gave them free to the Lord.”  From early on, it seems to me that God has had this idea.  MC’s are not new, they are a throwback.  They are not something to be afraid of, they are God’s plan.  A MC gives the average, ordinary, everyday person an opportunity to find fulfillment by using their gifts and talents freely for the Lord.  To use the talents they have been given to follow God in the mission of sharing the love of Jesus with everyone they encounter.  Being a MC to me is simply a group of people living their lives as missionaries.  It is saying, “God has placed me where I am, for a reason.  And rather than waste the opportunity, I am going to use all of my time, talents and resources to make a difference for God right where I am.  I don’t have to live in a foreign country to be a missionary.  I’m a missionary right here.  And I’m going to join with others who feel the same way and I’m going to help make a difference right where I am.

I’m going to bring my gifts and I’m going to freely give them to God.

Join the discussion.

I want to hear your thoughts.

What do you think about MC’s?

What needs are right in your backyard that you can see as a mission field?

Is it time to freely give yourself to God by using your gifts and talents to be a part of the solution for that need?

In what ways can you see this concept playing out in everyday life?

Are MC’s a new idea?  Am I just crazy?  (I will be the first to admit that God doesn’t call this group in Exodus 35 a “missional community.”  Based on the way they are structured today, it seems to me that God has been trying to use people as “missionaries” since gifts and talents were first given to them.)

Can’t wait to hear from you.

Missional Living!

Ephesians 4:11-15 says…

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  Then we will no longer be immature like children.  We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.  We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.  *emphasis mine

There are so many applications to this passage it seems.  There are directives to those who lead the church.  People in positions of leadership who shepherd God’s people.  But there is an even greater emphasis here.  One that lies at the heart of an issue I seem to continually wrestle with.  There is a huge emphasis in this passage not on the leaders of the church, but on every person who calls themselves a follower of Christ, a Christian.

What we know from this passage is that Christianity is not a spectator sport.  Over the last 2000 years or so, the church has done a really good job at making church a spectator sport.  “Sit in our pews.  Listen to what we say.  Do as your told.  Follow these rules.  Preacher knows all the answers.  You are dumb.  You can’t speak to God, I’ll do that.  Come to our potluck dinner.  We’ll make it all happen for you.”  And it seems to me that we have done a great job at creating spectators, fans, those who simply watch the show but don’t actually take part in making it happen.

That is changing.  Winds of change are beginning to blow in the world.  Everyday people, normal, ordinary followers of Christ are starting to make a difference.  They are living different.  They have a different mindset.  They aren’t sitting idly by and letting someone else use their gifts and talents, they are actively pursuing God’s mission and purpose for their life.  They are living life on mission.  They are living, well, like missionaries.

Take a look around at the community you live in.  What are some of the needs you see?

Is there a homeless shelter nearby?

What is the percentage of homelessness in your area?

Are there hungry families?

What percentage of families live below the poverty line?

How many people are struggling just to pay for groceries?

Are there food banks nearby working hard to offer a simple meal?

What about abused moms?

Are teens in your neighborhood struggling?

I wonder, what would Jesus’ office look like if he were here, doing ministry today.  I wonder if he would have the corner office with a nice window and a good view of the city.  Maybe he would have a comfortable couch with a few plants and a picture of his mom and dad on his desk.  He would be furiously typing out the “Sermon on the Mount – Part 2” on his MacBook Air.  His iPhone would be buzzing constantly with emails and demands from people.

But it doesn’t take long to notice something different in the life of Jesus.  Let’s just say, you have to be pretty close to a prostitute for her to pour perfume all over your feet, to wipe you down with her hair and to cry on your shoulder.  You have to be pretty close to the traitor to share a meal with him or to receive a kiss on the cheek.  There isn’t much room in his life for an office space when there are thousands of people feed.

In every aspect of the word, Jesus lived as a missionary in the world.  He was a missionary to mankind.  And in every aspect of the word, I can’t grow to be like Christ until I am doing the same thing.  I can’t live like a missionary in my world when I don’t even have “non-Christian” friends in my life.  It’s hard to be like Jesus when I don’t share a meal with people who don’t share my values.  It’s hard to be like Christ when I don’t rub elbows with anyone who doesn’t think, feel, believe and look like me.  When it comes to being like Christ, I have a long way to go.  But it starts with a belief, a belief that translates into action.  It’s the belief that I am a missionary right where I am.  I am not here to spectate and watch the world go by, I am here with a purpose and mission to help make a difference and to share Jesus with people.

So what about you?

How would you feel if I told you that you were more than “just a Christian,” but that you were a missionary for Christ right where you are?

Would that change the way you view your world?  Would that change how you act toward people?  Would that change who and how you interact with people?

Over the next few weeks, I will probably talk about this topic a lot more.  I have a lot of thoughts on my mind about this very issue.

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