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I’m your host AMBrewster and today we need to take a long hard look at a present parenting issue that has long-term effects.
But before we do that, don’t forget to do all of your Amazon shopping using TLP’s affiliate links. All of your shopping is identical to what it would have been before, just this time — because you used our link — Amazon gives TLP a commission on the purchase. You don’t pay more, you don’t pay less, Amazon just shares part of their income with us. So, be sure to bookmark TruthLoveParent.com/Amazon to simplify the process for yourself, and thank you in advance.
And while you’re at TruthLoveParent.com, be sure to check out our free episode notes, transcript, and related resources.
And now let’s look at a biblical example of a really bad parenting choice and then carefully do whatever is necessary to make sure we don’t make the same really bad choice.
Let’s start by looking at . . .
1. A Biblical Example of Destructive Parenting
In Joshua chapter 9, we’re introduced to a very interesting experience.
The Israelites have entered the Promised Land, they’ve defeated Jericho and Ai, and the rest of the Canaanite kingdoms are very concerned because of the miraculous power sustaining this rag-tag nation that’s come out of Egypt.
And the first few verses of Joshua 9 relate how the kings of the area had made an alliance to attack the Israelites.
But another kingdom, the inhabitants of a place called Gibeon, developed an alternate way of dealing with the Jews. They came up with this elaborate scheme to convince the Israelites that they were a nation from very far away outside of Canaan. You see, they knew that the Jews were forbidden from making any alliances with the inhabitants of Canaan. In fact, they knew the Jews had been commanded to wipe out all Canaan.
And their ruse worked; and verse 15 reads, “Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.”
Unfortunately, three days later the Gibeonites’ lie was revealed. But Joshua and the people had made a solemn promise before the Lord not to destroy the Gibeonites, and they decided that disobeying God by not honoring that vow was a worse choice than disobeying God by not destroying all the inhabitants of the Promised Land as they were originally commanded.
Now, this event was not the only decision that would have lasting effects on the Children of Israel. But the other bad choices that were made were nearly identical to this one. Simply put, the Jews did not eradicate the land as they were commanded. Only the future decisions to spare the people were worse than this event because they weren’t deceived like they were with the Gibeonites.
So, then we get to Joshua 23:11-13. The Jews have not completely cleansed the land as they were commanded, and the Lord issues a warning to the people. During his farewell address, knowing the people had not been obedient, Joshua said, “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God. 12 For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you.”
Now, let’s move to the book of Judges in order to hear the rest of the story.
In Judges 2:1-15 we read, “Now the angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim.” Keep in mind that this was likely the pre-incarnate Christ Himself. This issue was big enough of problem that God Himself spoke face to face with the people.
“And he said, 'I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, 2 and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? 3 Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’” 4 When the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the Lord. 6 When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land.”
Now, their response was a decent one. True grief and shame over our sin that leads to genuine worship of God and true repentance is always wonderful. And verses 7-9 give us the good news that, “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten.”
So, let’s recap — God commanded them to wipe out the nations, but they foolishly made alliances and they sinfully did not obey the voice of the Lord. Still, they learned enough from their poor choices that even though they didn’t go back to finish the job, they remained faithful to God in other areas in their lives.
Not too bad. In fact, it probably sounds all too familiar from our own lives.
But here’s the thing. Allow me to start reading in Judges 2:10, “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. 11 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, 12 and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14 The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had spoken and as the Lord had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.”
Today we’re going to look at how the Children of Israel who entered the Promised Land set their children up for failure, and — Lord willing — we’re going to carefully look at our own lives to see if we’ve been doing the same things in our families. And — if we have — we’re going to talk about how to reverse course.
Let’s start by itemizing their poor choices.
A. The Jews did not seek God before making a covenant with the Gibeonites.
B. The Jews did not break their sinful covenant with the Gibeonites in order to obey God.
In addition to that . . .
C. The Jews continued not to obey God with other people groups for various bad reasons.
So, not only did they do many wrong things, the Judges’ passages leads us to believe that . . .
D. The Jews did not lead their children to God as they should.
Now, before we compare the Jew’s bad choices to our own, I want to remind us all that Parental Determinism is not a thing. I am never going to suggest that if you do everything just right then your kids will turn out just right. And we have plenty of episodes that say the exact same thing. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to listen to episode 94, “How to Train Your Child to Stay with God.”
That episode helps us understand that Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” is actually a promise, but — more importantly — it teaches us how that promise is fulfilled — and it’s never fulfilled because we manipulated the situation.
And — let me tell you — it’s not fulfilled simply because I taught my kids what’s right.
In fact, this whole debacle with the Jews is a perfect example of that fact the Parental Determinism is not a thing. The Children of Israel were God’s chosen people. He was theocratically teaching them and leading them. He was parenting them. But they rebelled against Him. In fact, they did it over and over again.
We absolutely cannot control the hearts of our children, we can only control what we do. And our goal as parents must be two fold:
First, our parenting must honor God. And second, our parenting needs to make it easy for our kids to do right and hard for our kids to wrong. Basically, we’re loving God by loving our kids, and we’re loving our kids by setting them up for success, not failure.
So, now let’s pull out the searchlight and microscope of God’s Word, let’s pray with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and and see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
2. A Modern Example of Destructive Parenting
What are the comparisons we can legitimately make between what the Israelites did and what we so often do.
This whole discussion today comes down to one thing. It all boils down to influence.
And there are two really important sides of this knife. On one side, we’re commanded by God to be a persuasively righteous influence in the life of our kids. And on the other side, God expects us to help our kids manage the other influences that come into their lives. This step involves managing those influences for our kids when they’re too immature to know how to do it well, but it also involves us teaching and reproving and correcting and training our kids so that they learn to be mature enough to manage their influences themselves.
Now, at this point in our discussion, it’s really easy to casually proclaim, “Oh, I know how important influences are.”
And then there are a couple follow-ups to that sentence that I often hear from parents.
Some say, “I know how important influences are, and I do everything I can to manage them.”
Now, though the occasional parent may really have this issue nailed down, this is usually the response of someone who has likely convinced themselves that there’s nothing else they can do — even though it’s not true, or someone who simply doesn’t want to have the conversation.
But others say, “I know how important influences are, but it’s so hard to manage them.” Often times this is spoken by parents who’re losing the influence war; many of whom have been losing that war for a while.
But regardless of which knee-jerk response you may have had, stick with me, take an honest look at your parenting, and be prepared to acknowledge where you can do better, learn what still can be done, and then work toward that in submission to God.
Alright, now, obviously the Jew’s situation is not identical to ours. I can promise you that God does not want any of us to cleanse our nation of bad influences. That is not God’s expectation for New Testament Christians.
So, though the situation is very similar in that strong wicked influences and weak good influences will definitely set our kids up for failure, obviously we’re going to go about managing those influences in a very different way than the Jews were too manage Canaan.
As a parent, an observant human being, and as a biblical family counselor for 15 years, I can tell you that I regularly see the following:
Just like the Israelites . . .
A. Dads and moms are not making God the content, method, motivation, or power of their parenting.
We can’t go into all the detail today, but we have nearly 500 hundred episodes that unpack all of these issues.
To sum it up, too many parents are not Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 parents. Instead of parenting their kids in the High Spiritual Expectations of God’s Word for the sole honor and glory of their Savior and in the power of the Holy Spirit, their parenting is selfish, worldly, and weak.
That right there is guaranteed to set up your kids for failure.
Do some kids who have terrible parents submit to God by His grace and in His power alone? Definitely! But we’re talking about the process to which God has called us. We mustn’t be bad parents simply because we know that God is gracious. In fact, in the words of Paul in Romans 6:15, I proclaim, “Shall we sin because we are under grace? May it never be!” Some translations render that last phrase as, “God forbid!”
Think about the history of the Jewish people for a moment. The first and second generations were miraculously brought out of Egypt. And yet the first generation stilled doubted God and would not obey Him when it came time to enter the Promised Land. So, the first generation wasn’t allowed to enter the land.
But the second generation had also witnessed the Exodus, and they saw the consequences of their parents’ sin. Not only that, when they were finally allowed to enter the land, they experienced even more miraculous blessings of God. But they too still did not obey God as they should.
And then what happened to the third generation? “There arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.”
Why did they do evil in the sight of the Lord?
The passage is clear . . . they didn’t know Him.
Well, then why didn’t they know the Lord? How could that have happened given what their parents and grandparents had experienced? Simply put — they hadn’t been taught the things of God. They hadn’t been reproved by the things of God. They had been corrected according to the things of God. And they definitely hadn’t been trained in the things of God. The four most important tasks any parents can do had not been done sufficiently in their lives.
Their decision to rebel against God was ultimately their own, and they were punished by God for it, but their parents and grandparents set them up for failure by not brining them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. They didn’t teach the wondrous truths of God diligently to their sons and talk of them when they sat in their houses and when they walked by the way and when they lied down and when they rose up. They didn’t bind them as a sign on their hand and make them as frontals on their foreheads. And they didn’t write them on the doorposts of their houses and on their gates.
They weren’t intentional, premeditated, disciple-making, Ambassador Parents for God.
Now, you may be thinking, “I’m sure that not all of them did a good job, but how can you pronounce such a sweeping condemnation?”
The Scriptures reveal that nearly none of the following generation were faithful to God. That’s a statistical improbability if even a small percentage of them are parenting well. For nearly an entire generation to have been lost, there had to be very few godly influences in their lives.
And many parents do this today. They may have a “personal faith.” They may have a graceless vehemence about the things of God, but so many are not truly bringing their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
And a corollary to this point is that many parents are not only not being the influence they should be, they also aren’t introducing their kids to other right influences like the local Body of Believers.
So, if you want to set your kids up for failure just like the ancient Israelites did, don’t be the influence God commands you to be and don’t introduce other godly influences into their lives.
And if you are right now realizing how selfish and worldly your parenting is — even if it’s only part of your parenting — there is hope, and there are answers. Get into the Word of God. Reach out to Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. Listen to the multiple episodes we have and read the resources we promote. God has given you everything you need to be the parent you need to be. And we want to help in any way we can.
But there’s another really important facet to this discussion.
Just like I regularly see dads and moms not making God the content, method, motivation, or power of their parenting, I regularly see . . .
B. Dads and moms deliberately not protecting their kids from or preparing their kids to overcome wicked influences.
Now, stick around to the end of the episode, and I’ll share with you how you can access a ton of resources to help you on this very point.
But here’s what I see so often.
Just like the nation of Israel, I see parents who deliberately allow wicked influence into their kids’ lives.
And let me tell you how those influences are veritably ushered right into ours kids’ lives. They come in through what the parent allows their kids to watch, read, and listen to. Their music, their movies, their shows are daily injecting the most vile, anti-God influences our generation has ever seen. The stuff I encountered as a kid is nothing compared to the content of supposed children’s books and shows!
But then there’s social media and the broader internet as a whole. And parents are literally giving their kids unfettered, unfiltered, unaccountable access to all of it.
But not only that, I see parents sending their children out into the world to be actively proselytized by them. That’s right. It happens every day in public schools. It happens every day in professing Christian schools that are no different from the public schools. It even happens in the curriculum used in many homeschools!
And this same thing happens every day in the colleges and universities just like it happens in the high schools and preschools.
Our kids are spending most of their day being intentionally lead away by the World.
But it doesn’t stop there. I also see it happen in who professing Christians allow their kids to have as friends and — worse yet — who they allow them to marry!
My friends, this ought not to be!
The children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Israelites who entered the Promised Land by the divine power of God lost their kids — in part — because they didn’t equip their children to know and worship God, and instead they also allowed the wicked influences of the land to infect their kids’ minds.
By not removing the pagans from the land, they socialized together and intermarried, and — just as God had promised — those influences drew away the sinful hearts that didn’t know God or weren’t mature enough to reject the lies.
The spiritual warfare that was waging in the hearts of every one of them was ignored and unchecked and often the parents ended up actually fighting on the enemy’s side.
Now, here’s the thing, my dear friend. If you have been cavalier about protecting and preparing your kids, there are answers. There is hope. You can do what’s necessary to undo the permission you’ve given to many — if not most — of the negative influences you’ve allowed into your kids’ lives.
But you have to really want it. You have to see how destructive it is. You have to be grieved over the fact that you actually allowed the enemy into your home, and you have to fight back.
And again, we have tons and tons of resources to help you with this. We offer biblical family counseling, and if we can’t do it, we will help you find a biblical counselor who can. We want your family to succeed, and there is no one under the sound of my voice today who needs to feel hopeless about this.
It will take hard work, but you can be the parents God wants you to be when you submit your parenting to Him.
But now we need to get to our final point.
Just like I regularly see dads and moms not making God the content, method, motivation, or power of their parenting, and just like I regularly see dads and moms deliberately not protecting their kids from or preparing their kids to overcome wicked influences.
I also see a lot of . . .
C. Dads and moms ignorantly not protecting their kids from or preparing their kids to overcome wicked influences.
And, yes, this point is nearly identical to the first with the exception that this scenario most closely matches the issue with the Gibeonites. It wasn’t a deliberate act of rebellion, it was an ignorant sinful choice.
Listen, the Jews wanted to do right by God. They wanted to do right by the people who were seeking to ally with them. But the Jews made some serious miscalculations.
And their missteps and foolishness happens all too often in our parenting as well.
In fact, I would say that this one happens the most.
I would not be surprised to hear that many of my listeners today do a good job being a sound influence in their families. And I would not be surprised to hear that many of you don’t deliberately invite godless influences into your kids’ lives or fail to teach your children how to respond to obvious lies.
But far too many of us make a lot of uninformed, foolish, naive, and ignorant choices that set our kids up for failure just as much as the other bad parenting choices do.
So, how does this happen?
A. We don’t seek the Lord’s wisdom.
The Jews could have asked God directly and gotten a straight answer. He would have revealed the lie of the Gibeonites, but they didn’t seek Him until it was too late.
How often do we make decisions for our kids without opening God’s Word, without seeking out the wisdom in a multitude of counselors?
This world has lied to us that we have everything we need in and of ourselves to parent our kids. But we don’t! We need God first and foremost, and we need those who are going to keep us accountable to God.
Let me give you a rampant example of this.
I cannot tell you how many parents — without really seeking God’s will on the matter — sign their kids up for sports (and the like) that will cause them to regularly miss corporate worship.
God’s Word is excessively clear from beginning to end that the corporate worship of God’s people is absolutely needed and commanded. If we took just a moment to study the Bible and ask good questions, it would be so incredibly clear that whatever benefit my child may receive from being on some team, absolutely does not outweigh the vital interaction God wants them to regularly have with other Christians within the context of corporate worship and one-anothering.
So, that’s the first ignorant choice we make. We don’t know God’s Word well enough to recognize when an influence is bad.
But then there’s . . .
B. We don’t take time to research.
If the Jews had prayed and sought the Lord and just waited a few days before making the decision, they would have discovered that the Gibeonites were lying to them. The Scriptures say that only three days later the truth came out.
And, my friends, we are guilty of the same thing.
If we just took a little bit of time to truly research, consider, and investigate, God’s people wouldn’t so nonchalantly toss their kids into situations where negative influences abound.
Let me give you some examples: I already mentioned school and entertainment, but there’s also sleepovers, extracurricular camps/clubs/classes, letting your kids frequent the skatepark or local hangout without supervision, and even work.
Yes, I said work.
I can give you examples from my wife’s family; I can give you my own personal examples how sending unprepared children into the secular workforce with little to no accountability is absolutely begging for a tsunami of wicked influences.
Do you know who’s going to be speaking into your kids’ ear all day at work? Do you know what they’re going to see, to what they’ll be exposed, or what they’ll be asked to do?
No, work is not an amoral place where pancakes are made, burgers are flipped, or groceries are rung up.
My friends, we’re fools if we think that our kid’s first job is an amoral activity. My first job gave me unfettered access to pornography, drugs, sexuality, and the vilest, wickedest, God-hating influences you can imagine — on a daily basis — and, no, I wasn’t working at a bar of degenerates. I was working at a chain restaurant with bunch of other teenagers!
I’m not going to mention which restaurant it was because it wasn’t really the restaurant’s fault. It’s not like working at McDonalds or Wendy’s is spiritually worse than working at Arby’s. The problem is that sinful people work in every restaurant, and I was not the man I should have been to overcome the influence. I absolutely ate up all of the sinful influences. I didn’t fight them. I followed them.
And though all of my choices were my own responsibility, the daily influences at work literally paved the way and ushered me to all of my worst decisions.
And I encounter on a daily basis children whose parents encouraged them to get a job who are now being overwhelmed by the wicked influences on that job.
And, again, this is a two-edged sword.
Both of my parents will tell you that it wasn’t just the bad influences they allowed into my life, it was the fact that they hadn’t prepared me the way they should. They foolishly believed I was ready to stand my ground for God, but the reality is that I was a spiritual baby. I was a double-minded man unstable in all my ways.
And just a little bit of research, a little bit of investigation into my spirituality and the very real sinful influences of the world, and my parents definitely would not have encouraged me to get that job at that time.
Now, we need to finish up today, but this last point is important for all of us.
Yes, the Jews did not seek the Lord. Yes, they didn’t carefully take the time to investigate the matter the way they should, but — when they finally realized how poor their decision was, they didn’t do the right thing.
C. We don’t change the trajectory.
Now, I don’t want to get too far into the weeds with whether the Jewish leaders should have gone back on the vow they made before the Lord to the Gibeonites, but I do want to relate it to something I see all the time.
A child is sent to a public school or allowed to listen to a certain type of music or watch a certain show or get an after-school job or signed up for the sports team, and before long the parents either encounter a podcast like this or — God forbid — they start to see the negative consequences of the influences they’ve allowed into their kids lives . . . and now they have another decision to make.
And it amazes me how often the parents can’t bring themselves to pull the kids from the school or the team or the job or the friends or the club or from the influence of the music.
And even though they now understand how diabolical it all is and how easily swayed their kids are by the influences and how unprepared they are to stand for Christ . . . the parents continue to allow it!
And why does this happen? Is it because they vowed to the Lord the child would be allowed to have unfettered access to the internet and they don’t believe it would please Him to go back on their vow?
The parent’s failure to change the trajectory generally comes down to fear or immaturity.
Yes, a lot of permissive parents, a lot of parents who don’t give God’s Word the preeminence that they should and don’t investigate the dangers like they should are the same parents who have kids who aren’t seeking after God and who are gladly embracing the influence of the world.
And the idea of telling those kids they can’t listen to their worldly music any more is only going to invite rebellion, chaos, and meltdowns into the home because there is no Christ-honoring structure and framework in their lives. And I get it. I’ve spent most of my adult life ministering to and living with terrorist teenagers.
But, like I’ve said all along, we don’t have to be fearful parents. God and His Word have absolutely everything we need to change the trajectory to His honor and glory, regardless of how our kids respond.
But fear of backlash from our kids isn’t the only thing that tempts us not to change the trajectory.
Sometimes it’s simple immaturity on our part.
Sometimes that immaturity believes the lies of the world over the truth of God. They believe that it would be damaging to the child or their relationship if they went back on their word. And it’s that immaturity that will continue to allow their kids to be influenced by factors they are ill-equipped to overcome.
I also work with parents all of the time who’re comfortable with their life choices, but they’re not comfortable with the effect it’s having on their kids, yet the maturity it would take to reevaluate the situation and make life-altering, new decisions is just “too hard.”
Sometimes it’s a lack of imagination about the plethora of other choices that would be better for our families. You know, we don’t know what we don’t know. But sometimes it’s just laziness. We don’t set out to learn what we don’t know.
“I don’t want to invest the mental effort into finding another place for my kids to go to school. The public school is free, it’s right down the road, and finding a Christian school or — God forbid — homeschooling them is just too hard to even think about. I’m sure my kids will be fine.”
And I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve met and with whom I’ve worked who have told me they used to think just like that . . . until they lost their kids forever.
My friends, I share all of this with you today because I want God’s best for you and your kids. I’m a frontline worker. I have a daily front-row seat to the destruction of the modern family, but I know that God’s Word has the answers. It doesn’t have to be this way!
The Israelites didn’t know God the way they should. But we can. They didn’t introduce their kids to Him. But we can. They didn’t protect their kids from the wicked influences their kids were too immature to overcome, and they didn’t prepare their kids to not be swayed by the influences that would come later. But we can.
They didn’t force their kids to do wrong. They just set up their kids for failure, and their kids were more than happy to run toward it.
So, what’s the best way for you to set up your kids for failure? Don’t provide strong biblical influence and invite bad influences into their lives. It’s that easy.
But if that’s not what you want — and I pray you don’t want that for your family — what’s the best way to set up your kids for spiritual success?
Well, you need to make God the center and the source of your parenting. Make it as easy as possible in your home for your kids to do right and make it hard for them to do wrong. Manage their influences and teach them to manage their influences to the glory of God.
Now, I told you before that I had a ton of resources for you, and I’m going to share with you how to access them. If any part of today’s discussion has left you with more questions than answers or you just want to deepen your study of this very important subject, I want to make it easy for you to find them.
But before I give you that that, please share this episode with your Christian friends. We all need to learn and be reminded of these truths. The influences in our kids’ lives will either set them up for spiritual victory or spiritual destruction.
So, share this episode in an email, a text, on social media, by word of mouth, whatever.
And then your friends, just like you can get access to a ton of help.
The first help I mentioned earlier was face-to-face counsel. Whether it’s through your church, the TLP Counselors, or another biblical counselor we help you find, you’re going to need help changing your trajectory. It’s hard, but it can always be done with the right help.
The second resource available to you can be found in two places. As always, there’s a number of links in the description of today’s episode that will further help you to understand what God has to say about these issues. But I also did something else today that I don’t normally do. I carefully worked through the entire transcript of this podcast, and I inserted links right into the body of the show.
Go to the show page (which is linked in the description of this episode) and scroll down to the transcript. There you will find so many links that are tied to the concepts we discussed. Each link will give you a ton of verses and principles and counsel to help you navigate those arenas.
I pray they all will be a blessing to you.
And I really pray that you’ll join us for our next episode as we continue opening God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our parenting.
To that end, we’ll be starting a two-part episode which will ask the question “Are Older Children in Charge of Younger Children” as well as investigate the consequences of inherent authority versus inherited authority and discuss what the Scripture says about the topic.
I look forward to seeing you then.
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