Monday, August 27, 2012


1 Peter 4:10 (Amplified) “As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine empowerment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God's many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor]”

There is a lot of stress, today, on the idea that everyone is a minister.  This is a thoroughly biblical idea.  Everyone has some gift; no one has all gifts; so everyone must minister with the gifts they have.

The gift is a possession.  The gift is always received. It's not something you earn.  It can and should be developed, but it is received.  It is a gift and should be received like any other gift.  The gift comes at conversion.  It may be a new gift given at the time one is saved.  Or it may be the spiritual energizing of a natural gift.  Your gift is anything you have that your brothers and sisters lack.  It is anything by which one can benefit another.   It is all the gifts and graces by which one can help another

The gifts we have are given to us for a purpose.   To “minister” is to “serve”.  The word “minister” comes from the word that means “lowly service”.  The idea is that of a server in a restaurant.  To minister is to help others.  Wherever there is a need, there is an opportunity.  The good Samaritan understood what ministry was all about

We should use the gifts God has given us.  A good steward is a “responsible servant”.   He receives what he has (stewardship doesn't involve one's own things).  What he has belongs to someone else.  He is to use what he has since God has given him enough to meet all his needs.  By the way, if there are unmet needs, it may mean that someone is not functioning properly.   A good steward is to be accountable for what he has and what he does with what he has . His stewardship is of God's appointment.   The word “manifold” means plentiful, varied. That word “grace” means God's unmerited (undeserved) favor.

It is totally comprehensive. "Every man” is involved.  Since every man has the gift, every man is required to participate.  There's no way to sit this one out!   It is completely individual. It is not a matter for “the church”.  This is an individual matter – a personal matter.  This is a matter for which we will all give account to God

These gifts we are talking about are talents or abilities, great or small, entrusted to individual Christians for the good of the whole church.  Those who have them must use them to minister to the needs of others. All gifts are trusts – no Christian gets his natural gifts, talents or spiritual graces to hoard only to themselves.  They are to be used to minister to (serve) others.  What are you doing with the gifts God has given you?  How are you ministering to your brothers and sisters?  Are you allowing God to use you to bless others?  Are you allowing God to use you to make a difference in the lives of those around you?

If so, great!   I encourage you to keep it up!  If not, why not?  You're missing out on one of the greatest opportunities God gives His people. Be an encourager!

On a personal note...this blog post will most likely be my only blog post for this week.  My wife and I are moving this Friday and as you can imagine there remains much to do.  Our computers will come down on Tuesday so I will be unable to blog as I would normally do.  We very much appreciate your prayer during this time of transition in our lives.  Rest assured I'll be back in the saddle next week writing and posting new blogs.

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Thursday, August 23, 2012


Today's society is caught up with so much noise and confusion.  The day to day pressures and stress of life have a profound affect on our families, friends, employment as well as our church.  Our music is loud and thunderous.  Our entertainment is explosive and sometimes destructive.

Many have attempted to deal with this stress through various means including drugs, alcohol and even suicide.  Many have resorted to psychologists, psychiatrists and even hypnosis.  We've taken out our frustrations on our loved ones by means of physical and mental abuse.  Stress is tearing us up from the inside out.  How do we, as Christians, cope with stress?

One of the first things we can do is change our way of thinking.  We should concentrate on things that have a calming affect.  God has provided us, through nature, a built in calming influence.  The hills, the valleys, the streams all can provide us with a means of relaxation.  Listening to good soothing music, or for many, it's the hymns of the church or praise and worship music that brings relief from stress.  

Many Christians suffer from stress because they struggle with inevitable conditions.  You know, there are some things in life we have absolutely no control over.  There's nothing we can do to change the circumstances so why not change our outlook on them?  Jesus conquered stress because He didn't fret about the difficult situations He encountered.  Jesus rolled with the punches.  He simply turned impossibilities into opportunities.  How different from ours His outlook was.  We should attempt to do likewise.  Sometimes we must accept situations that we are powerless to change, doing our best with what we have and simply leave the rest to God.

Too often, we fail to comfort and encourage others as we should.  We get so wrapped up in our own selfish interests.  We get to feeling sorry for ourselves.  Jesus cared about the difficulties of others.  He had compassion for others.   He healed the sick, gave sight to the blink, unstopped deaf ears.  Jesus made time for others who were in need.  We, too, should assist others in their time of need and difficulty.   Often comforting others and offering encouragement to others who have problems will resolve our own complaints.

Folks, if we, as Christians, are to overcome stress in our lives we should be aware of God's presence in our lives at all times.  Even though we don't always feel His presence, we know through faith He is always near.  We are able to put our trust in God because He is not a fair-weathered Friend.  The psalmist wrote in Psalm 46:1  God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble.  We ought to take Him at His word!  Let's stand on the promises of God and over come this victory-stealing enemy we all face from time to time - stress.

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders for appearing saintly and holy outwardly but inwardly remaining full of corruption and greed (Matthew 23:25-28).
Living our Christianity merely as a show for others is like washing a cup on the outside only. When we are clean on the inside, our cleanliness on the outside won't be a sham
There is a difference between our person and our personality.

We tend to emphasize the personality – what we want others to think we are. God emphasizes the person – what we really are. Jesus compared the scribes and Pharisees to whitewashed tombs. They looked clean on the outside but were full of corruption on the inside. Jesus called them hypocrites – pretenders (Amplified), frauds (The Message). Things are not always as they appear!

In our own lives things are not always as they appear. We always put our best foot forward. We want to make a positive impression on those around us – whether or not we are actually living what we are portraying.  Again, Jesus had a name for these people – hypocrites, pretenders, frauds.

We like to stand around and tell one another how wonderful we are. Too bad God doesn't see things that way. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf: and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away

We are all infected and contaminated by sin . Our best efforts are as dirty, filthy, greasy, stained rags! Things are not always as they appear

God doesn't see us as we see each other – God sees us as we truly are! 1 Samuel 16:6-7 tells us And it came to pass when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Looks aren't everything. Appearance isn't everything. God looks at people differently than we do. We tend to look at the outward appearance.  Appearance doesn't reveal what people are really like or their true value. God looks into the heart. Fortunately, God judges by faith and character, not by appearances. Looks can often be deceiving

Many people spend hours each week maintaining their outward appearance; they should do even more to develop their inner beauty and character. Things are not always as they appear!

It's time to come clean with God. We can't fool God. Jesus said in Matthew 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

There are those who say the right things, but the condition of their heart is one of being far from God. Their worship, therefore, becomes vain. When we claim to honor God while our hearts are far from Him, our worship means nothing. It's not enough to act religious. Our actions and our attitudes must be sincere. The Bible tells us in Luke 12:1-3, In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, He began to say unto His disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

Jesus warned His disciples against hypocrisy. The Pharisees could not keep their attitudes hidden forever. Their selfishness would grow like yeast, and soon they would expose themselves for what they really were – power hungry impostors not devoted religious leaders. Each of us must resist the temptation to settle for the appearance of respectability when our hearts are far from God. Things are not always as they appear

We may be able to cover up the problem areas in our lives and even fool one another
But we cannot fool God! God sees us as we truly arenot as we want others to think we are. When you stand before God, and everything in your life is revealed, will it be a day of gladness or a day of sadness? The choice is yours. Things are not always as they appear! Come clean with God today!

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Sunday, August 19, 2012


When will we as Christians ever learn that God's way is the best way?  No matter what facets of our lives, no matter what situation we encounter, no matter how much we think we know, always remember God's way is best!

Scripture tells us in Pslam 37:5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He will bring it to pass.  It seems, today, that many Christians insist on clinging to their own ways when it comes to serving God.  They don't want to let go of their old habits and in some cases they are reluctant to give up their old lifestyle.  These individuals are some of the most miserable people in the church.  Why?  In a nutshell, they lack spiritual victory in their lives.

Listen folks, if we are to enjoy God's best for our lives we must yield our way, our will, our work and our walk entirely to Him.  We must commit our time, our talent and yes even our treasure to Him.  We must be willing to deny ourselves for the benefit of others.  This is all a part of commitment to God.

We as Christians often fail to trust in God as we should.  If we continually rely on our own strength we will continually fail.  We sometimes depend too much on doctors, lawyers and friends.  Now don't take me wrong.  I'm not advocating the exclusion of these influences in our lives.  We should be thankful for the help of others, but our ultimate trust must be in God.  Remember, bank accounts may fail, money markets may fail, but Jesus never fails!

God rewards those who are totally committed to Him.  God rewards His people by enabling us to be a blessing to others.   God will use a totally committed person to reach out to others and in doing so will draw others to Him.  

God's way is best.  He not only rewards the faithful in this life, but He rewards us also in the next life - eternally.  After all, folks, that's what really matters.

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Thursday, August 16, 2012


1 Cor. 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

The problems you face in your life will either defeat you or develop you – depending on how you respond to them. Unfortunately, most people fail to see how God desires to use the problems we face for good in their lives. They tend to react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit these problems might bring.

Remember, God never allows us to be tested beyond what He knows we can handle (I Cor. 10:13).

Five ways God desires to use the problems in your life:

God uses problems to DIRECT you ( 1 Peter 1:6-7)
Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention? Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. Under God's will, adversity may come:
  • as a test to strengthen our faith (I Peter 1:6-7)
  • as a test to strengthen our actions (I Cor. 3:13-15)
  • as a preparation for us to comfort others (II Cor. 1:3-5)
  • to manifest the life of Christ (II Cor. 4:8-10, 12, 16)

God uses problems to INSPECT you (James 1:2-4)
People are like tea bags...if you want to see what's inside of them just drop them into hot water! Has God tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you?
Our faith can only reach full maturity when faced with difficulties and opposition. Trials are sometimes brought into a believer's life so that God can test his faith. Scripture no where teaches that troubles in life are always an indication that God is displeased with us. Troubles can be a sign that He recognizes our firm commitment to Him (Job 1-2).
God uses problems to CORRECT you (Psalm 119: 67, 71)
Some lessons we only learn through pain and failure. It is likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something by losing it (health, money, a relationship, etc.)

God uses problems to PROTECT you (Genesis 50:20)
A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Several years ago, a man was fired from his job for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem – but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management's actions were discovered.

God uses problems to PERFECT you (Romans 5:3-4)
Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship with God and your character are the only two things you're going to take with you into eternity. We can rejoice when we run into problems...they can help us learn to be patient. Patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.

Here's the point: God is at work in your life – even when you don't recognize it or
understand it. It's much easier and profitable when you cooperate with Him. Success can be measured not only in achievements, but in lessons learned, lives touched and moments shared along the way. When we get to Heaven, what could be more wonderful than to be greeted by someone who says, “I'm so happy to see know I would not be here if it weren't for you.

The next time you face a problem, ask your self what God is doing in you.  

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Saturday, August 11, 2012


From time to time in one's life change occurs.  There are various reasons for the changes that take place.  Today, Cindy and I stand at a crossroads in our life.  Change is in the air for us.

We will be moving back to Springfield, IL in less than three weeks.  There are a few reasons for this move but suffice it to say it's a God thing.  We both believe God has ordained this move.  While it will have an economic impact on us, we believe it will bring about positive health benefits for both of us.  We also believe this move will rekindle the fire in our bellies that we both feel we need in order to do the things God has called us to do.

I thought for a period of time that God was perhaps leading us out of our current work in Atterberry.  However, that is not the case.  We will continue to pastor in Atterberry.  We love our church family!   We fit uniquely into this church family.  Cindy and I believe that, too, is a God thing.  Our church family supports this move for us knowing it will have health benefits for us.  The church will also benefit for us being healthier and feeling better.  

Each time I walk into the house I see empty boxes and packed boxes stacked against the wall.  It serves to remind me that God is working all things out for HIS good (Romans 8:28).  I've been emphasizing in my preaching the last year or so that GOD HAS A PLAN for each of us.  It doesn't matter how young or how old we are.  God still has a plan.  Sometimes it takes a change to see God's plan fully enacted in one's life.  

This change will also allow us to pursue additional outreaches that God has laid on our heart.  While we already provide teaching and preaching via You Tube we will be starting a podcast that can be streamed or downloaded and listened to at a later time.  We will keep you posted on the podcast as we get it together and it becomes available.

If you are interested in hearing any of the preaching and teaching we do you may go to and type in Pastor Ray Spellbrink or atterberrybaptist in to the search area.  We've had people request we put our preaching and teaching on line.  This was a feasible means to do this.  

During this time of transition we ask for your prayers.   We are confident this is a God thingWe are excited about what God has in store as well as what other means of outreach He may  lead us in to.

Stay tuned!

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


Thursday, August 9, 2012


We owe a great debt to the early church. They evangelized their world.  They took the great commission seriously (Matt 28:18-20).   Because of their faithfulness we have the gospel message today.

They faced the same challenges we face today.   Christians are a minority compared to the population of the world.  Christians are commissioned to reach the world with the gospel.  People are born at a much quicker rate than they are being born again.  Yet the early church accomplished great things without the advantages we have today.  They had the reputation of turning the world upside down!  (Acts 17:6).  What did those early Christians have that we need?

They were on fire for Jesus!  “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:3).   This was evidence of the Holy Spirit working through them.  The effect of this evidence was souls were won to Jesus and churches were planted.

The world needs to see the church on fire!  It's not enough to be fundamental we must be on fireIt's not enough to be doctrinally sound – we may be sound asleep!  It's not enough to be preaching – we must be pleading.   It's not enough to be Bible believing – the Word of God must be burning deep within us! It's been said, “So afraid of wild fire, we have settled for no fire at all.”  We need to get the fire back in our lives and our churches!

The early church found true fellowship in Jesus (Acts 2:41-46). “ fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  Once divided, now they were bound together in loveThe basis of their fellowship was “the apostles doctrine”.  The apostles doctrine was, in a nutshell, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  They based their fellowship on truth they were real.  They celebrated the gospel in their daily lives.  Do we have that kind of fellowship?   If not, what are we going to do to achieve it?

These early Christians were fully surrendered to Jesus (Acts 4:18-20).  “For we cannot but speak...”  They couldn't help themselves – they had to speak the things they seen and heard.  They laid everything on the altar.  To some this meant financial loss.  To some this meant prison.  To some this meant martyrdom.   No wonder they were effective!

Today there are too many Christians trying to save their own lives.  As a result they actually lose their lives.  “For whosoever shall save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matt 16:25).  You don't know life until you know Jesus!  They also lose their impact for Jesus

We need a true move of God!  We need a genuine move of the Holy Spirit!  We need a double dose of the Holy Ghost!   If we followed the example of the early church and the New Testament believers, I believe we would see that mighty move of God we so need in our day.

Do we long for the fire and fellowship of the early church?  Are we willing to make their kind of surrender – their kind of commitment - to receive this move of God?  Are you hungry for a mighty move of God?  Do you long for more?  Do you desire God to do His work in your life?

Let's do what we need to do to have the move of God we need to have.  Let's expect it!  If we will do that, truly, the best is yet to come!

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Tuesday, August 7, 2012


God has high expectations for His people.  If you're saved, God has high expectations for you.  God obviously expects more from His people.  There are legitimate reasons why the world, the church, and our Lord Jesus, Himself, may expect more from Christians than from the rest of mankind

Why are there such high expectations of Christians?  Christians profess more.  We claim to be something more than the world.  We often claim to be more than other Christians.  Christians, in fact, are more.  We have been changed by the power of God.  We are now children of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.  Christians possess more.  As believers, we have the internal presence of the Holy Spirit.  We have heavenly resources at our disposal (prayer, anointing, Holy Spirit leading).  Christians promise more.  We have great potential in Jesus!  We “can do all things through Christ” (Phil 4:13).  Christians know more.  We have the Word of God to instruct us.  We understand so much more about life, the world and eternity as we read God's Word.  Christians expect more.  We expect things from God; why shouldn't God expect things from us?  We expect things of other Christians, why not of ourselves?

What are these expectations?  Many of these expectations can be found in Matthew 5.  We are to be an example (Vs 13-16).  If seasoning has no flavor, it has no value.  If Christians make no effort to affect the world around us, then we are of little value to God.  If we are too much like the world, we are worthless.  What kind of an example are you?  We are to be a people of obedience (Vs 17-20).  Some of those in the crowd were experts at telling others what to do, but they themselves missed the central point of God's laws.  Jesus made it clear that obeying God's law is more important that explaining it.  How are you at obeying God yourself?  Gentleness should be a staple of the Christian life (Vs 21-26).  Broken relationships can hinder our relationship with God.  If we have a problem with a brother or sister, we should resolve the problem as soon as possible.  We are hypocrites if we claim to love God while we hate others.  Our attitude toward others reflects our relationship with God.  We are to be a people of purity (Vs 27-32).  When Jesus said to get rid of your hand or your eye, He was speaking figuratively.  He didn't mean to literally pluck out your eye, because even a blind person can lust.  But if that were the only choice, it would be better to go into heaven with one eye or hand than to go to hell with two.  We sometimes tolerate sins in our lives that, left unchecked, could eventually destroy us.  It is better to experience the pain of removal – of getting sin out of our lives - than to allow the sin to bring judgment and condemnation.  It's important that we examine our lives for anything that causes us to sin, and take every necessary action to remove it.  Truthfulness is a trait that should be part of every Christian’s life (Vs 33-37).  Oaths or vows were common, but Jesus told His followers not to use them – their word alone should be enough.  Are you known as a person of your word?  Dare I say it?  Patience is an important characteristic of the Christian life (Vs 38-42).  When we are wronged, often our first reaction is to get even.  Instead, Jesus said we should do good to those who wrong us!  Our desire should not be to keep score, but to love and forgive.  This is not natural – it's supernatural.  Only God can give us the strength to love as He does.  Instead of planning vengeance, pray for those who hurt you.  Love is a powerful weapon for the Christian(Vs 43-48).  By telling us not to retaliate, Jesus keeps us from taking the law into our own hands.  By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good.  If you love your enemies and treat them well, you will truly show that Jesus is Lord of your life.  This is possible only for those who give themselves fully to God, because only He can deliver people from natural selfishness.  We must trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we man not feel love.

Why should we be concerned about meeting these expectations?  There are some very good reasons why God's people should measure up to these high expectations.  Because we are known by our fruits.  People should not judge, but they will.  There should be a differentness about Christians.  Because our works will be revealed.  Don't worry about not judging – Jesus will take care of that.  This is a matter of motives.  We can stop the talk of the enemy.  We can't stop all criticism, but we shouldn't create any either.  A godly life does silence the critics.  Because doing so will glorify God.  The more things are out of character the more they glorify.  We glorify God most by becoming like Him.  Because it brings peace to our own conscience.  We know we are doing what is right.  We know that we are doing what pleases God.

How we live is of great significance.  The salvation of Christ is not in sin, but from sin.  We are to be different!  God has high expectations of His people.  I challenge you to search out your own life today. See how you measure up – not to man’s – but to God’s expectations!

Until next time…enjoy the journey!


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Saturday, August 4, 2012


Phil 4:15-19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”

AMPLIFIED - “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”

Many Christians, today, struggle with questions regarding God's supply in spite of the clear statement of Philippians 4:19. We'll pray and ask God to meet a particular need and then we question and wonder if He will actually do it. It's important for us to have right teaching on this subject. Let's look at what God's Word really says about His provision.

This thought from the above Scripture is a straightforward expression.  It is unconditional. There are no obvious conditions here. I would hate to be in a position to need His supply if I had not been meeting my obligations to the Lord and had been selfish in regard to the needs of others.  God's supply is unlimited.  It identifies God as making the provision.  It speaks of “all” your needs.  It bases everything on God's riches in glory.  It involves Jesus.   It is unspecified.  It doesn't say exactly what He will do.  It doesn't say how He will do it.  It doesn’t say when He will do it.  It states merely that He WILL do it!  You can take that to the bank!

We've all been through experiences in which it appeared our needs were not met.  We've all been through experiences in which our needs have been met but not as or when we thought they should be.  The question comes to mind, “Does God really meet all our needs?”   This question is, no doubt, asked by Christians often.

What about those times when it appears He doesn't meet our needs?  Did God forget about us?  Is He unconcerned about our situation?  Let's take a look at some “why's” of what appears to be unanswered prayer.  Perhaps our need wasn't really a need.  We become accustomed to a specific lifestyle. We often think of something as a need when in actuality it is a want.  The truth is God actually provides many of our wants.  It's a matter of timing. God always has His own reasons for His timing.  Sometimes the need is supplied but not in the way you wanted it to be.  Consider Israel in the wilderness.  God gave them what they needed, when they needed it.  He give it to them in ways of His choosing rather than theirs.  He gave it in ways at times not even visible, in ways designed to test them, in ways also designed to humble them.  God knows best exactly how to meet our needs if we will but trust Him.

Sometimes the need we are praying for is not our greatest need.  We have many needs, but we see the temporal and physical as the most important.  God sees our spiritual needs as our greatest needs.  God may not supply one need because that need is being used in the process of meeting another more important one.  Meeting the need the way we want it, in the time we want would not bring Him ultimate glory.   The meeting of needs is a means of His glorification.  He usually does things so as to bring glory to Himself ahead of bringing comfort to us.

All our needs are occasions for blessing and glory.  God does meet needs.  Don't give up. Remember, He works in His way and in His own time. He often works in ways we cannot see.  But rest assured, He's working on our behalf.

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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