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The 10 Things

You Won’t Find

in a
By Matthew L. Jacobson

Copyright © 2014 by Matthew L. Jacobson

Cover design by Triumph Assistants


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recording, or otherwise—without written
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Twitter: @MLJacobson

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Marriage is in tough shape these days.

And not just marriage but Christian

marriage, which is more than sad – it’s

Why? Because God has a very specific

purpose in each and every Christian
marriage: To be a picture to the world of
how much Jesus Christ loves His Bride, the

So, how are we doing with that?

Every Christian husband and wife should
be able to say to others: Follow my
example in marriage.

But, could you? Could you stand up in a

room and say, without embarrassment,
“We’re not perfect but even so, I encourage
you to follow our example in marriage?”

Most couldn’t.

How sad that what is rare in the typical

Church is supposed to be “normal”
Christianity. And, how about those disciples
who live in the same house with you . . .
your children? If you couldn’t say this to
your friends, you couldn’t say it to your
children, either, which raises a very
uncomfortable question. Are you providing
an example to your children of how not to
have a Christ-honoring marriage?

A godly couple can say this because of

what’s missing from their marriage.

Sometimes it’s good when certain things go

missing from our marriages.

Here are 10 things that need to go

from every relationship where
God’s standards for marriage are
sought. . . .
Chapter 1

A Sharp Tongue

Have you ever given into the desire to make

it sting? It can be easy to cut with words
when things don’t go our way.

Even one time is too often but, how often do

we cut ourselves slack in cutting with our

“But, you made me so angry,”

“What you said made me respond that way,”

“I would never talk like that if you weren’t
so . . .”

Most of us are pretty creative when it comes

to justifying our sin. That’s exactly what
exercising a sharp tongue is: sin.

“Sharp Tongues” can come in two varieties.

First, there are the words themselves that are
biting or cutting. “You’re such a . . . Why
don’t you just . . . You make me . . . You’re
so . . . You . . .”

Then there is the way we say it – our tone

and countenance – the vibe we choose to
communicate. Our tone and body language
can be just as razor-edged as our words.
With a change of tone and a roll of the eyes,
a simple comment can become a cutting
put-down. “Thank you” under those
conditions doesn’t need interpretation.
Instead of expressing appreciation, it
suddenly means, “You’re such a jerk. Why
don’t you shut up?”

I have a question for you. There can be

exceptions, but when was the last time you
regretted what you didn’t say? Everyone
remembers the time (many times!) we said
something we regretted but, rarely have I
regretted restraining myself during the urge
to “just say it” in an intense moment.

The Bible has a lot to say about the words

we use.

“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a

small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world
of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among
our members, staining the whole body,
setting on fire the entire course of life, and is
set on fire by hell . . . no human being can
tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of
deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and
Father, and with it we curse people who are
made in the likeness of God. From the same
mouth come blessing and cursing . . . a
harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by
those who make peace.”
~ from James, Chapter 3

As the Scriptures state, it’s normal for our

flesh to embrace the impulse to use sharp,
cutting words on each other. What could be
more natural? But a godly couple doesn’t
give in to this ungodly impulse because
they’ve subdued their natural tendency and
obey the direct instruction of Scripture.

“A soft answer turns away wrath.”

~ Proverbs 15:1.

This is a small but powerful verse. Even in

the midst of rising temperatures, responding
with softness of spirit and with soft words
often derails the flesh’s tendency to sin.
“Pleasant words are as honeycomb, sweet to
the soul, and health to the bones.”
~ Proverbs 16:24

There is no place for a sharp tongue in

any relationship and that’s why you won’t
find one in a Christ-honoring marriage.
Chapter 2

A Good Memory

When it comes to offenses between spouses,

a good memory is very bad.

There’s nothing quite like regularly

referencing the list of your spouse’s past
offenses and failures to close a heart and
prevent true intimacy and fellowship.

There is a deep-seated unkindness revealed

by the refusal to let someone’s past failures
remain in the past. I don’t want to be an
unkind spouse, do you? In 1st Corinthians 13,
the Bible says, “Love keeps no record of

So, we need to ask ourselves a question:

How loving am I, really?

Families are often famous for their

unkindness, referencing a member’s lesser
moments at the most inopportune times, but
when it comes to failures of one’s spouse,
it’s far worse – you’re going home to bed
(more likely the couch!) with that person!
And then, there’s the next day, and the day
after that.

The sheer hypocrisy of not letting go of past

offenses is another character flaw revealed
by a bad “good memory”. When we won’t
forgive and forget our spouse’s offenses
(when they have been repented of and we’ve
said, “I forgive you”) what we’re really
saying is that, “My past offenses don’t count
anymore, but yours still do.”

God wants us to embrace a different

perspective. In the parable of The
Unmerciful Servant, found in Matthew 18,
Jesus reveals what every spouse who was
tempted to cast up past offenses into the face
of his/her spouse should never forget.

The story is about money or, rather, ‘talents’

and ‘denarii’. One denarii was a day’s wage,
and it took 6,000 denarii to make one talent
(about 16 years at an average day’s pay).

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be

compared to a king who wished to settle
accounts with his servants. When he began
to settle, one was brought to him who owed
him 10,000 talents. And since he could not
pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with
his wife and children and all that he had,
and payment to be made. So the servant fell
on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience
with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And
out of pity for him, the master of that servant
released him and forgave him the debt.

But when that same servant went out, he

found one of his fellow servants who owed
him 100 denarii, and seizing him, he began
to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’
So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded
with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will
pay you.’ He refused and went and put him
in prison until he should pay the debt. When
his fellow servants saw what had taken
place, they were greatly distressed, and they
went and reported to their master all that
had taken place. Then his master summoned
him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I
forgave you all that debt because you
pleaded with me. And should not you have
had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had
mercy on you?’ And in anger his master
delivered him to the jailers, until he should
pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father
will do to every one of you, if you do not
forgive your brother from your heart.”

It can be too easy to lightly pass over the

vital truth contained in this story Jesus told.

He wants us to understand, God has

forgiven every one of us so much more
than we could ever pay.

For the truly repentant, He’s wiped the slate

clean. The heart of the message here is, how
dare we refuse to forgive others (our spouse,
for instance) when we’ve been forgiven so
very much.

God’s account of His gracious forgiveness

of us is a grave warning to every spouse
who refuses to let go of past offenses.
The offense against you may feel huge – is
huge – in your life and experience but, if
your spouse has repented and asked for
forgiveness, that’s the end of it. And, the
Father desires that you and I reflect on the
fact that the offenses committed against us
are small compared with what we are guilty
of, before God, and the greatness of God’s
total, complete forgiveness offered to us.

After we repent of our sins before God, He

doesn’t then commit them to memory so
they can be thrown in our faces the next
time we need to repent.

The Bible says that God forgets our sins.

When we repent and ask forgiveness of each
other, they should never be referenced again.

Remembering and repeating past wrongs

will prevent the true fellowship that always
follows true forgiveness. Colossians 3:13
(we are called to forgive as God has

Do you want intimate fellowship with

your spouse? Then let a bad “good”
memory go missing from your marriage
because, “He who covers an offense seeks
love, but he who repeats a matter separates
close friends.” Proverbs 17:9
Chapter 3

Neglecting the biblical order in


In today’s culture, it’s practically hate

speech to declare that a wife is to submit to
her husband in the way The Church is to
submit to its head, Jesus Christ. Drowning
kittens is more socially acceptable to the
spirit of the age.

But, there’s something worse – giving

men a pass on the subject of the biblical
order in marriage. A lot gets said about the
structure as it relates to the woman but much
less time, over the years, has been devoted
to the Christian man’s responsibility. And, if
you want to know why Christian marriage is
in disarray, look no farther than the men of
the Church.

Men are basically instructed to be to their

wives as Jesus is to the Church. So, how
did/does Jesus act toward the Church, His

a) He loved “her” before He knew

“her”. “ . . . while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Men are
called to be faithful and sacrificial before
they are in a relationship with their wives –
think emotional and sexual purity for life –
before men meet their life-partner.

b) He “nourishes and cherishes” His

Bride. Ephesians 5:29. The English word
‘cherish’ means to treasure, value, prize,
appreciate, take pleasure in, to attach
importance to, but the biblical word
rendered ‘cherish’ in English means “to
make warm” speaking of deep and rich
affection. Do you make your wife ‘warm’,
not sexually but does she experience a warm,
inward glow of satisfaction because of how
you value and treat her? Every Christian
husband is responsible to make his wife a
cherished woman.

c) He gave Himself. Ephesians 5:25.

The Bible says Jesus was tortured so
severely that by the time the Romans were
finished, he was barely recognizable as
human. Our crucifixes and paintings don’t
do the reality justice. Flesh hung from his
bones. Until we deeply reflect on the torture
of Jesus, we won’t understand the extremes
of sacrifice for our wives to which we have
been called.
Love your wife as Christ loved the Church.
Will we ever rise to the standard of love
established by our example, Jesus Christ?
Maybe not, but a man like that is much
easier to submit to and to follow than a man
who makes regular choices that says, “I love

The best approach is to read your own


Where God says something specific to the

wife, Christian wives should read and heed.

Where God says something specific to

husbands, Christian husbands should read
and heed.

Let’s stop pointing out verses that our

spouse should be paying attention to. When
we focus on what God has said to us, we
won’t have the time to focus on how others
aren’t measuring up to what God has called
them to do.

The Bible is increasingly out of step with the

culture – no surprise there – but, if you
desire to have a marriage ordered according
to God’s structure and standards, read and
live by Ephesians chapter 5.
Chapter 4

A lack of care of how each

other is doing

Even in the most deeply wounded person -

with layers of emotional armor strategically
deployed to fend off the any attempt to be
known - there is a heart that desires to
matter to someone, if only the risk of finding
out wasn’t so great.

So many spouses subsist in marriages where

they know only one thing for certain: They
aren’t truly cared for. It’s sad . . . and it’s
sinful. Godly love engenders a genuine
concern for one’s spouse and how he/she is
doing at any given moment.

Ironically, most would readily say when

asked, “Yes, I love my spouse.” Many even
have deep feelings of affection, but this is
never enough because of something that
many married people forget: Your spouse is
not a mind-reader!

For some, it may be more uncomfortable

than a root canal without anesthetic, but we
simply have to make the effort to find a
meaningful channel of expression for how
we care to be communicated in a way that
our spouse can hear and understand.

It may be uncomfortable but it isn’t

complicated. Communicating that love can
be as easy as finding a quiet moment and
sincerely asking, “Hey, how are you
doing . . . really?” Love is kind, the Bible
says. (1 Cor. 13:4) Is that how your spouse
would describe you in your interaction with

No marriage can be godly where a lack of

care for each other is present.
Chapter 5

Taking offense quickly

Are you the person who takes offense

quickly? Who can’t stand being questioned?
Who readily feels the inquiries of others are
thinly veiled challenges? Who hears in an
off-hand remark an intended slight?

For your sake and everyone around you, I

hope not because this describes the person
who Pride has by the throat with one hand
and with the other is driving away everyone
who cares about him/her.
Being “touchy” and taking offense quickly
are often symptoms of a wounded, insecure
heart. But, God came to bind up wounds and
to heal – “By his stripes you are healed,” the
Word says in 1 Peter 2:24.

There are always “good” reasons for being

offended but being quick to take offense is
sinful and destructive. In 1st Corinthians 13,
the Bible says, love is not easily provoked.
So, if I am, I’m not a loving person. We
need to be honest with ourselves.

God will change anyone who will allow

Him to do His redeeming work. If you are in
need of this sanctifying change, humble
yourself and ask your heavenly Father to do
the necessary surgery.

Godly spouses are slow to become angry.

1 Cor. 13:5
Chapter 6

An Unwillingness to Sustain

We get married, we envision our future and

then ‘Life Happens’. God didn’t call us to
health, wealth, and a life filled with nothing
but happy moments. He called you and me
to faithfulness – in everything.

What God has joined together, let

no man separate – Mark 10:9

We never know where the twists and turns

of life will lead. But God knows and He
wants us to receive His grace for the journey,
not run in fear from an unknown future.

Here is a glimpse into a challenging chapter

of my and Lisa’s life from an article I wrote
last year.

At some point, the life we planned on and

reality collide.

Our first several years of marriage were

pretty much free of serious hardship – oh,
things happened that we thought were
difficult but the first real challenge? That
would be the birth of our Little Sparrow.

How do you cope when the Dr. tells you

your new baby is severely brain-damaged
and is, in so many words, a vegetable?

I kept it together while he was there but

could feel a growing fire in my chest, as if
the sinews of my heart were being ripped

Daddy wants to protect.

Daddy wants to fight.

But, there’s not one thing Daddy can do to

stop what was happening.

When the door clicked shut behind the

good Dr., I turned to Lisa – my lover, my
friend, and oh, how we cried.

In one moment all the hopes, dreams, and

aspirations for a new little life, for our little
girl, vanished.

Have you been there, too? Or maybe you’re

living there right now – searching for
understanding and the strength to carry on
in the face of deepest sorrow, or a bitter

Step 1: Remember the book of Job –

He is God in the stillness and in the

God knows every detail about you including

the worst thing you are facing right now.
The book of Job gives us a “peek behind the
curtain.” Satan is at work – in every trauma,
trouble, and trial we face – but so is God.

There’s a line in an old hymn I love that goes

like this: He will sanctify to you your deepest
distress. You see, God never gives you the
grace for someone else’s trials but He
always gives you the grace for what He
calls you to walk through.

Will you receive it?

He will take that trial your Enemy meant as
dark and dirty and sanctify it – literally
make it clean – if you trust and yield to His
light in the midst of your troubles.

In that hospital room, I knelt (fell to my

knees) beside the bed, desperately grasping
Lisa’s hand . . .
“Oh God, I don’t understand why our little
girl has to be hurt like this . . . it makes no
sense to me . . .
but I still trust you . . .
we still believe that you are good, even
though we don’t see or understand.”

Then we cried a lot more.

Step 2: Believe the Truth – God will

never leave you or forsake you.
Matt. 28:20 “. . . I am with you alway . . .”

He is there, in your deepest struggle. Do we

truly believe what we’ve been telling
everyone we believe? Do we believe that
God is good in the shadows of life, or only in
the sunshine?

But, don’t get the wrong idea. I still get

emotional over what might have been.
Sorry – maybe a super Christian would just
forge ahead in total strength and conviction,
but this Daddy?

The other day when some kids were visiting,

running all over the yard and our Little
Sparrow leaned over to me and whispered
in my ear, “I wish I could run,” or when I’m
at some event like we were, recently, where
there’s a little country dancing and I see my
sweet girl in her wheel chair, her longing
eyes watching the other kids laughing and
playing . . . yeah, I still cry.

My little girl’s heart was made for dancing,


Step 3: Hold fast to your hope

Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you

with all joy and peace in believing, that ye
may abound in hope, through the power of
the Holy Ghost.”

And, God knows that. He created her for His

glory which is why following the Marriage
Supper of The Lamb, I’m thinking there’s
going to be a big dance and I’m pretty sure
I’ll have to stand in line for a dance with
Little Sparrow . . . just behind Jesus,
Welcome Little Sparrow . . . may I have this


Has life taken a turn you didn’t anticipate

and, like Jesus wrestling in the garden, you
don’t particularly want?

“Not my will but yours be done.”

God has called you and me to faithfulness in
the deepest struggles we face. Our flesh will
always want the easy way out but God gives
His grace for every trial.

Godly couples have settled in for the long

haul. They don’t ‘cut and run’ when
things get tough. Remember the old vow,
“In sickness and in health?”

Godly love bears all things. 1 Cor. 13:7

Chapter 7


Pride is one of the more stupid sins, not

that that keeps us from being prideful
(stupid!). It comes in endless variations but,
essentially, pride says, “Notice me, talk
about me, and focus on me.”

The Bible is crystal-clear on God’s

perspective on pride and that’s why it is so
foolish. From the Scriptures we see plainly
that when we choose pride, we make God
our enemy. 1 Peter 5:5 we are told that God
opposes the proud. The actual word used
means that He sets Himself in battle against
(the prideful person).

Seriously? We want to take the opposite end

of the battlefield against Almighty God,
Lord of Heaven and Earth? Not a wise
choice. That is why pride is stupid.

Ever wonder how that argument with your

spouse got started? Now you look back on it,
it seems pretty silly, doesn’t it? The Bible
explains where conflict comes from.
Proverbs 13:10 says, “Only by pride comes

I wasn’t being prideful. I was being logical,

reasonable, and sensible. It was my
husband/wife who was being disagreeable.

If we are in an argument, God says it

happened because of pride . . . not the other
person’s pride. Our pride.
Pride takes you somewhere. It’s like a
vehicle to get you from point ‘A’ to point
‘B’. Get in the Pride Mobile and you’re
guaranteed to arrive at a specified

Proverbs 16:18 says that pride precedes

destruction and a haughty spirit precedes a

It’s hardly surprising. Selecting God as one’s

enemy - by choosing pride - the outcome is
predictable. But, you and I can choose
differently. God has empowered every
believer by giving His Spirit.

A godly spouse say “no” to the fleshly

impulse to be prideful. The first thing you’ll
notice about a godly spouse is, “It’s not
about me.” That one is too busy looking for
opportunities to lift up the other to make
God their enemy.

In 1 Cor. 13:4, God says that love doesn’t

boast and is not puffed up.
Chapter 8

Tearing down one another

Only a madman would walk up to his own

home with a sledgehammer and start
smashing in the walls with blow after blow.

Crazy, right?

How about if he turned the sledgehammer

on himself and brought powerful swings,
one after another, down on his shin? Not a
pretty picture – time for the straitjacket.

Ungodliness in marriage will lead to just

that kind of madness – destructive behavior
that is actually self-destructive. Tearing
down one another is one of the most
insidious forms of self-hatred. When we
tear down our spouse, we’re actually
tearing down ourselves, according to the

God desires that we should understand and

embrace His perspective on our marriage,
which can be summed up in one word:
Oneness. God meant what He said, The two
shall become one flesh.

Once you’re married, you’re not two

separate entities, but a single whole. God
says you are “one” and this is why tearing
down each other is an exercise in madness –
an exercise in self-destruction.

Speaking of the care a man is to have for his

wife, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle
Paul, says in Ephesians 5, “No man (no sane
man) ever hated his own flesh . . .” It’s time
to leave off with madness, with the
self-loathing, with diminishing of oneself
with words that tear each other down.

This sinful habit is missing from a godly

marriage because these couples are
busy . . . too busy lifting each other up to
have the time to tear each other down.
Chapter 9

Thinking less than the best of

each other

Every one wants to be deeply trusted by


How free, comfortable, and safe it is to be in

a marriage where a negative assessment to
who you are, what you’ve been doing,
where you’ve been, when you arrived, and
the why of what transpired is not the default
response . . . because you are trusted by your
It is the way God designed a godly marriage
- “ . . . the heart of her husband safely
(securely) trusts in her . . .” Of course, this
goes both ways. Every wife must be able to
completely trust her husband – God requires

For most, such a deep level of trust doesn’t

come naturally. For others, trust has been
violated and reestablishing it after
repentance of one’s spouse can be
challenging. But, it can be done because
choosing to think the best of your spouse
(that spouse you have who is imperfect . . .
just like you!) is exactly that: a choice . . . a
choice to love.

Godly couples love first and ask questions

later. They assume the best of each other. 1
Cor. 13:7
Chapter 10

Taking pleasure in each

other’s failings

Love doesn’t rejoice when someone sins

but rejoices in the truth. 1 Cor. 13:6

It’s easy to get busy with life and treat

marriage like it is something that is
happening to us instead of something we are
doing. But you are “doing” marriage.

Yes, it takes two - but the marriage you

have is the marriage you are building.
Every husband and wife has an active role to
play in the building of his/her marriage.
You also have a role to avoid.

In John 16:8, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit

is coming (after Jesus ascends to heaven)
and will be in the world, convicting the
world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to
come. The Holy Spirit has got His job
covered. He doesn’t need you to fill in as
judge, jury, and hangman (woman!)
convicting your spouse of his/her
shortcomings and how he/she isn’t
following the Scriptures.

Let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. He’s

much better at His job than you are!

Avoid the temptation to point out to your

spouse those Scriptures that were intended
for him/her. If you focus on the verses that
were written specifically to you, you’ll be
too busy walking in obedience to the Lord
(as you explore all the ways to walk
biblically and lovingly with your spouse)
you won’t have the time to focus on
(accuse!) someone else.

Maybe you’ve got all of these negative,

sinful behaviors removed from your
marriage. If so, that’s fantastic!

But, if not, take responsibility for what you

are bringing to the marriage and take action
to ensure these things are “missing” from
your marriage – at least for the part of the
relationship God entrusted to you . . . your
And, may God bless you as you seek
to honor Him with the marriage He
entrusted to you.
More Books
by Matthew and Lisa Jacobson

100 Ways to Love

Your Wife
By Matthew L. Jacobson

100 Ways To Love Your Wife is filled with

practical ideas for pursuing love, kindness,
friendship, and appreciation in the everyday
lives of couples committed to enjoying the
best a great marriage has to offer (although
much of what's here is apropos for those
planning to be married, too!). What does it
take to have a great marriage? It's not all that
complicated - just a whole lot of decisions
that say, "I love you," rather than those that
say, "I love me." This book provides
suggestions that help demonstrate to your
spouse that she is a cherished priority in
your life.
100 Ways to Love
Your Husband
By Lisa Jacobson

What could I tell you about enjoying a great

marriage? A happy and loving one.

Now that we’ve been married for 21 years.

We’ve laughed together, cried together, slept
together, raised children together, and have
walked together for over two decades. Two
people who’ve been loving each other for a
long time.

So women often ask me, they wonder how

it’s done. What has worked and what has
helped us through the hard times? What has
brought us this far? And what will keep us
loving each other in the years to come?

Whether you’re newly married, have been

together for decades, or still waiting to meet
the one God has for you, Lisa Jacobson of
Club31Women.com offers practical steps on
how you can enjoy a lasting, loving
marriage too.
Join her on the life-long journey of learning
to love each other.
About the Authors
Matthew L. Jacobson
My name is Matthew (feel free to call me
Matt!) and I should start by telling you the
best thing about me. God is so good! 21
years ago, I met and married this Lady, right

(Saint) Lisa. We live with our eight kids on a

small acreage in the Pacific Northwest –
well, most of them, anyway. Our oldest is
off to college on the east coast. On any
given day, you can catch us in the lake, on
the river, in the garden, feeding the chickens
or the cow…or reading a good book by the

For the past 23 years, I’ve worked in the

book publishing industry as VP of
Marketing & Editorial, Multnomah Press, Sr.
Acquisitions Editor of Broadman & Holman,
and VP of Editorial, Multnomah Publishers,
founder and president of Loyal Publishing,
and then of Loyal Arts Literary Agency.

About eleven years ago, I started Loyal

Publishing where Eric and Leslie Ludy
published their bestselling book, When God
Writes Your Love Story.

After selling Loyal Publishing, I began

Loyal Arts Literary Agency, which
represents such authors as Darlene Schacht
(Time-Warp Wife), Aaron & Jennifer Smith
(UnveiledWife) Eric & Leslie Ludy, and
Kevin Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back
From Heaven – a #7 New York Times

Lisa and I have written several children’s

books including the C. S. Lewis Silver
Medal winner for Children’s Literature,
How Did God Make Me?
Lisa Jacobson

Lisa is the happily-ever-after wife of

Matthew and together they enjoy raising and
home-educating their 8 children. She's also
rather fond of dark chocolate, French press
coffee, and deep friendships (though not
necessarily in that order).
You can find Lisa sharing her passion for
husband, home, and family over at
She’s also blessed to be a part of the
blogging team at TimeWarpWife.com,
TheBetterMom.com, and ForTheFamily.org.
Her articles have been featured at

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