Monday, January 16, 2017

Obituary - Robert L. Sumner, Evangelist, Author, Editor

Evangelist Robert L. Sumner

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 
-1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

R. L. Sumner (AD 1922-2016) at the age of 94 stepped from this life onto the streets of gold December 5, AD 2016. 

Evangelist Robert L. Sumner was raised in New York state and graduated from Norwich High School and Clarks Summit University (previously Baptist Bible College & Seminary).  Dr. Sumner received honorary doctorates from Bob Jones University and Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary.  He was pastor of Baptist Churches in Graham, Texas; Illinois; California; Ohio.  He served as Associate Editor of the Sword of the Lord with its founding editor, Dr. John R. Rice.  Sumner was founding editor of the Biblical Evangelist (, begun in 1966.  He served as editor until his death.  It contains a wealth of sermons, Bible studies, teaching, book reviews, sermon illustrations. 

Sumner is survived by five children: Richard (a Texas Baptist pastor), Ralph, Ruth, Rita, Ron.  After the death of Orphina, Sumner married Dorothy (Tullar Holm) in 2004.

A memorial service was held at Timberlake Baptist Church, 21395 Timberlake Road, Lynchburg, Virginia 24502, at 2 pm, Saturday, December 17. Dr. Paul Dixon, Chancellor of Cedarville University, officiated.  Burial was at Lady Lake Cemetery, Lady Lake, Florida, where his first wife is buried. 

Robert L. Sumner loved the lost and had a passion for lovingly pointing others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  I saw his concern over whether there were lost people in a worship service in which he as to preach.  I saw him graciously witness to a restaurant waitress.  He shared the advice that if you say a personal word or two to a person before leaving them a gospel tract, they will be much more likely to read it. 

The Biblical Evangelist and R. L. Sumner’s writings and ministry were well-known and influential in Independent Baptist and Southern Baptist circles, and elsewhere.  He was an interesting writer who excelled in defending the basics of the Christian Faith and Baptist beliefs.  Adrian Rogers was known to order hundreds of Sumner’s booklet on An Examination of Tulip: The Five Points of Calvinism

Robert L. Sumner was the author of numerous books including “The Honor Was All Mine,” and “Fights I Didn’t Start, And Some I Did (2 volumes).” He wrote commentaries on James, Hebrews, Ephesians.  His books were recommended by such men as Adrian Rogers, Paige Patterson, O. S. Hawkins, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines, John R. Rawlings, Lee Roberson, Tom Malone, Hyman Appelman.

He was an independent Baptist who had no problem ministering with Southern Baptists and all who believed in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.  His book reviews were honest, helpful and told you if he disagreed.  He favorably reviewed many books by Southern Baptists. 

His books have invaluable apologetic material defending Christian doctrine.  They are also known for containing a wealth of good sermon and Bible teaching illustration material.  For these reasons his books are treasured by preachers, Sunday School teachers, and Bible students.  No one could defend a Bible doctrine like Sumner. 

Dr. Sumner fought against the “King James Version Only” view that swept many independent Baptists. He spoke against KJV Only with John R. Rice at the Sword of the Lord, as well as following years at the Biblical Evangelist

Joel W. Hemphill, the musician, claimed Jesus is not God and said he and others were going to bring down the Trinity.  Robert L. Sumner confronted him and demolished Hemphill’s arguments in Fights I Didn’t Start, and Some I Did, vol. 1, chapter 11. 

Sumner wrote about Fundamental Doctrine; Baptismal Regeneration, Eternal Security; KJV Only, Calvinism, Premillennialism, Alcohol, Evangelism, Inerrancy, the Trinity. 

Sumner boldly, though sadly, confronted the improper behavior of Jack Hyles and refused to back down when faced with great opposition. 

Sumner and the Biblical Evangelist were influential in the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. 

I did not agree with Sumner on every detail.  But I mostly agreed with him.  And I was always ready to give him a hearing.  He served as a balance to much of the contemporary doctrine and practices of today. 

Robert L. Sumner personally knew so many of the great Christian leaders of the early and mid 1900s.  He wrote about many of them in the book, The Honor Was All Mine

I’m honored to say R. L. Sumner preached in my church, Northside Baptist, Highlands, Texas.  He also preached in both my brother’s churches.  Whether your church was large or small, he was happy to preach God’s Word and tell the lost about Jesus. 

In 2005 I wrote a book about my dad, The Wit & Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow.  This was before I personally knew R. L. Sumner; but I mailed him a copy of the book for possible review.  A little nervous, I knew Sumner would give his honest opinion.  He ended up writing a very positive, gracious review. 

About a year later my mother, Bonnie Brumbelow, and I had the opportunity to meet R. L. and Dottie Sumner at a Baptist conference in North Carolina.  We spent some time together, and it seemed as though we had been close friends for years. 

Dottie Sumner endorsed my mother’s cookbook and commented to us how much she enjoyed cooking some of the recipes and how much her husband enjoyed eating them. 

Dr. Sumner would later give a strong, helpful endorsement to my book, Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence.  Advertising these books in The Biblical Evangelist also proved helpful. 

In the interest of fairness I must add a negative.  I took R. L. Sumner out to eat at Sudie’s in Houston, TX and noticed he refused to eat his vegetables.  Sure enough, it killed him at age 94!  In spite of Sumner’s example, I still advise everyone else to eat their fruits and vegetables!   

On another occasion several years ago we walked by a brick area where water spouts were randomly shooting up and kids were playing in the water.  Sumner made a joking, disparaging comment about them.  I replied, “80 years ago you would have been right in the middle of those kids playing in the water.”  He laughed and admitted I was probably right. 

Not too long ago I mentioned to Dr. Sumner that I remembered him when he was a mere 84 years old! 

We have been blessed by Robert L. Sumner, his preaching, his books, and The Biblical Evangelist.  Preachers, Bible teachers and students – get every one of Sumner’s books you can find.  In addition, put them in libraries. 

Tribute by Dr. Paige Patterson, read at Sumner's funeral:

“Soldiers like Dr. Bob are no longer around.  This represents a substantial loss for all of us who fought by his side. You always knew that he would take care of his assignment and hold his line.  I never had to wonder or worry about a missile launched from his area of the battle field.  Yet, he was a gentle and compassionate soldier who would bind up the wounds of an opposing soldier who moments before had sought to take his life.
I never once had to guess where he would come down on any issue.  Where can we find such granite like strength so clothed in the softness of mercy? God bless you forever Robert Sumner, and may heaven bring you as much joy as you have brought to all of us.”
-Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Memorial Gifts may be sent to the Biblical Evangelist.  

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”  -Revelation 14:13

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, January 16, AD 2017. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Quotes by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a conservative professor, author, columnist.  He also happens to be black and grew up in North Carolina and New York.  He was born in AD 1930 and proudly considers himself a relic of the past. 

Sowell has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago, taught at UCLA and is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.  Senator Ted Cruz called  him a “brilliant thinker and writer.”  Sowell recently retired at age 86. 

I like quotes.  Even though I may not always agree with the author.  Even though I may not even agree with every nuance of the quote.  
Here are a few thoughts to ponder from Dr. Thomas Sowell. 

1. People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

2. If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago, and a racist today.

3. Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them.

4. No community is better off for having large numbers of idle young males, hanging around with nothing to do except getting into trouble.

5. Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.

6. The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.

7. The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.

8. The biggest and most deadly 'tax' rate on the poor comes from a loss of various welfare state benefits - food stamps, housing subsidies and the like - if their income goes up.

9. The real minimum wage is zero.

10. What 'multiculturalism' boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture - and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.

11. Elections should be held on April 16th- the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.

12. The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything - and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’ 

13. I am so old that I can remember when most of the people promoting race hate were white.

14. The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals' expansion of the welfare state. 

15.  Chief among those who generate this poisonous atmosphere are career race hustlers like Al Sharpton and racist institutions like the "Black Lives Matter" movement. All such demagogues need is a situation where there has been a confrontation where someone was white and someone else was black. The facts don't matter to them. 

16. We have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain. 

-Thomas Sowell (

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  
-Proverbs 25:11

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 28, AD 2016. 

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

R. L. Sumner funeral

Evangelist Robert L. Sumner died December 5, AD 2016.  His funeral will be December 17 in Lynchburg, Virginia. 
R. L. Sumner was the founding editor of The Biblical Evangelist ( 

He was Associate Editor of the Sword of the Lord with John R. Rice, and a prolific author.  

For more information. 

I will be writing more about him in the days ahead. 

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 
-1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 8, AD 2016. 

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Clean Drinking Water & Wine in Bible Times

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills.  -Deuteronomy 8:7

 For years I’ve heard the claim by otherwise intelligent people, “You can’t drink the water in Israel.  The water is contaminated.  Therefore, they had to drink alcoholic wine.  They had no choice.”
Or, a variation of this, “They had to have alcoholic wine to kill the germs or pathogens in their water.”

These claims are simply, false.  False for several reasons. 

1.  The expense.  Wine is expensive.  Imagine having to pay for wine for all your drinking and hydration needs.  It gets hot in Israel and they worked hard.  They would have needed a lot of liquid. 
2.  If alcoholic wine is all they had to drink, the men, women, children of Israel would have been drunk 24 hours a day every day.  That just doesn’t make sense. 
3.  If they could not drink the water, what would have happened if their yearly supply of wine ran out, was stolen, or destroyed?  What if they had a crop failure in the vineyard?  And, could they consistently grow that many grapes?  It would take a lot of grapes to provide a family with enough wine for all, not part, of their thirst for an entire year. 
4.  They knew how to make and preserve both alcoholic and nonalcoholic wine.  They called both wine (Isaiah 65:8, etc.).  Much like today, they had a choice of what to drink.  See articles below and the book “Ancient Wine and the Bible” for more evidence. 
5.  Israelis were masters on the subject of water.  They had to have drinkable water or not survive.  They dug wells, both shallow and deep.  They maintained them for centuries (John 4:5-11; etc.).  They knew about springs and how the water from them was generally safe and good.  They dug cisterns, and used natural cisterns (Genesis 21:25; Leviticus 11:36; Deuteronomy 8:7; 2 Kings 18:31; Nehemiah 9:25; James 3:11; etc.).  Of course they also used rivers and streams.  They valued running water.  They collected rain water.  They even knew the value of dew.  They knew bad water, probably both by training and by experience (Proverbs 25:26).  By the way, modern day Israelis are still exceptional in the areas of water, irrigation, farming, agriculture. 
6.  In Bible times, while they did not know about micro-organisms, they certainly knew clean water from dirty water.  They knew how to find clean water.  Also, to some extent, locals can build a tolerance for some defects in water. 
7.  To sum up, in Bible times they drank water on a regular basis.  Many Scripture passages support this fact  (Genesis 21:19; Genesis 24:17; 1 Samuel 30:11; 2 Samuel 23:15; 1 Kings 17:10; 2 Kings 6:22; Job 22:7; Proverbs 5:15; Proverbs 25:21; Lamentations 5:4; Ezekiel 12:18; Daniel 1:12; Mark 9:41; John 4:7).
8.  Alcoholic wine does not sterilize impure water.  It just doesn’t.  I’ve never seen a modern or ancient scientific authority recommend you take a bottle of wine on your next camping or hunting trip so you can make the water safe to drink.  Alcoholic wine does not disinfect water to make it drinkable. 

It should also be noted that even the alcoholic wine in Bible times was of a rather low alcohol content, making it even less likely to sanitize contaminated water.  Distilled alcohol, which can dramatically increase alcohol content, was unknown in Bible times.  

The word “water” is used 634 times in the Bible (NKJV).  This does not even include related words such as well, drink, spring, river, cistern… So there are many more biblical references than those listed above. 

In short, the oft repeated claim that they had to drink alcohol because the water was undrinkable is a false claim.  Don’t buy it.  Also, the oft repeated claim that you can make contaminated water safe by adding alcoholic wine is a false claim.  These are some of the weakest arguments by social drinkers.  Arguments that do not hold up to a valid investigation.

Parenthetical Note: That there be no misunderstanding.  while we may disagree on details, I’m on the side of all who wisely choose to abstain from alcoholic beverages. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 6, AD 2016. 


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Monday, November 7, 2016

Steve Gaines: Christians Should Vote

EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Gaines is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the Memphis, Tennessee - area Bellevue Baptist Church.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP) -- One of my favorite movies is an old classic starring Gary Cooper called "Sergeant York."

The story is about a Tennessee mountain man named Alvin York, a poor farmer who kept running into bad luck. But along the way he became a Christian. When World War I broke out, he designated himself as a conscientious objector because he believed the Bible taught people not to kill.

While he was in basic training, he excelled as a marksman. He came to a crisis during his early days in the military. During a long period of meditation and prayer he read this verse: "Then [Jesus] said to them, 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's'" Matthew 22:21, NAU).

In the movie he mulled over Jesus' words and came to the conviction that a follower of Jesus could also be a patriotic citizen of the United States and could fight to defend his country.

My father, Edgar Gaines, was a lot like Alvin York. No, my father did not receive the accolades York did. But when World War II broke out, my father left his farm in Lauderdale County, Tenn., and went to war to fight in the United States Navy. He had never been out of his county, much less America, but he went all over the world on a warship fighting for our freedoms.

One of the freedoms men and women like Alvin York and Edgar Gaines fought for was the freedom to vote. Many brave men and women have died so we can have the privilege to choose our own leaders. They fought and died so we could have a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

I believe voting is my patriotic duty as a citizen of the United States. I love my country and I thank God that I live in America. Is it perfect? No. But neither am I, and neither are you. Does America need to repent and turn afresh to Jesus? Yes. And so do I, and so do you.

The greatest issue in our land in my opinion is abortion. Sixty million babies have been slaughtered via abortion in America since Roe v. Wade in 1973. That is 10 times as many Jewish people that were killed by Hitler and the Nazis in the Holocaust. I have four children and 10 grandchildren. I cringe when I think that there are people in America who believe it would be alright to take a baby's life when it is only a month, a day or a week away from being born. We have not only lost our morals, we have lost our minds if we think that is right.

I believe that New Testament marriage -- one woman married to one man -- is an issue all Christians must stand for in America. The only marriage that the New Testament supports is heterosexual, monogamous marriage (cf. Matthew 19:5Ephesians 5:31).

I also believe Christians must champion the fact that racism must stop in America. There is only one race -- the human race. Bible-believing Christians believe that we all come from the same biological parents -- Adam and Eve, thus we are all biologically related to one another. All lives matter because God created all people, God loves all people, Jesus died for all people, and anyone can be saved!

Christians should vote and we should carry our Christian convictions into the voting booth with us. Find out what candidates believe and vote for or against them based on your biblical principles.

Christians, do not sit this one out. Do not stay home and avoid voting on Tuesday, November 8. Stand in line five hours if you have to, but make sure you register your vote. People have fought and died to give you the privilege of being salt and light in this sinfully dark world.

Vote and pray on Tuesday. In other words, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."
-Pastor Steve Gaines 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 7, AD 2016. 

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

He Maketh No Mistake - A Great Poem of Comfort

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. -Psalm 18:30

He Maketh No Mistake

My Father’s way may twist and turn
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I’m glad to know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I’ll trust my Lord to lead,
For He doth know the way.

Tho’ night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break,
I’ll pin my faith, my all, in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s far too dim,
But come what may,
I’ll simply trust and leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift,
And plain it all He’ll make,
Through all the way, tho’ dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
- A.M. Overton, AD 1932

This is a poem I’ve used many times in Funeral Services.  It is a poem that has been a real comfort to many.  It is printed in W. A. Criswell’s Guidebook for Pastors.  What I did not know until recently is this poem was written by the father of a beloved professor at Southwestern BaptistTheological Seminary.  Dr. Bob Overton grew up in Mississippi and pastored for years in Houston, Texas.  He then began teaching at the Houston Extension of SWBTS.  I had the privilege of having Dr. Overton as one of my professors when I was working on my Master of Divinity degree.  He was an interesting, pastoral, outstanding professor. 

Now, back to Bob Overton’s father, the author of this poem. 

“In 1932, my grandfather, A.M. Overton, was a pastor of a church in Mississippi with a wife and three small children. His wife was pregnant with their fourth child but when it came time for delivery, there were complications and both she and the baby died. During the funeral service, the preacher officiating the service noticed my grandfather writing something on a piece of paper. After the service the minister asked him about it, and he handed him the paper with a poem he had just written which he titled, ‘He Maketh No Mistake’”.  -Rob Overton, grandson. 

Read the entire story: 

A great poem, and a great legacy. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 2, AD 2016. 

PS - This is an update of a previous post.  


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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

John Calvin Killing Servetus

John Calvin (AD 1509-1564), namesake of the Calvinists of today, is a hero to many.  His books are often recommended and referenced.  He was a leader in the Protestant Reformation.  

But Calvin had a dark side.  Part of that dark side was absolutely denying freedom of speech and religious liberty.  On October 27, 1553, John Calvin had Michael Servetus (c. 1509-1553) mercilessly burned to death.  Why?  Because Servetus disagreed with Calvin’s beliefs. 

Leonard Verduin (AD 1897-1999) speaks authoritatively on this issue.  He was a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary, and the University of Michigan.  Verduin knew Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, French, Dutch, English.  On the subject of Calvin, it is noteworthy that Verduin is of the Reformed tradition. 
In his highly praised book, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,” Leonard Verduin says about John Calvin: 

“The burning of Servetus – let it be said with utmost clarity – was a deed for which Calvin must be held largely responsible.  It was not done in spite of Calvin, as some over-ardent admirers of his are wont to say.  He planned it beforehand and maneuvered it from start to finish.  It occurred because of him and not in spite of him.  After it had taken place Calvin defended it, with every possible and impossible argument.  There is every reason to believe that if it had not been for the fact that public opinion was beginning to run against this kind of thing there would have been many more such burnings.  The event was the direct result of the sacralism to which Calvin remained committed, a sacralism which he never discarded.” 

“Here was a man (Servetus) who posed no threat to civil serenity in Geneva – unless of course it be granted that anyone who deviates from the orthodoxy expoused by the State is ipso facto a threat to that civil serenity.  [Footnote in the book: In the sacral pattern heresy is automatically sedition.]  Servetus started no parades, made no speeches, carried no placards, had no political ambitions.  He did have some erratic ideas touching the doctrine of the Trinity; and he entertained some deviating notions concerning baptism, especially infant baptism.  No doubt there was something of the spiritual iconoclast in him, as there is in all men of genius (Servetus was something of a scientific genius in that he anticipated the idea of the circulatory course of the blood).  But he was not a revolutionary in the political sense.  He was indeed ‘off the beam’ in matters of religious doctrine, but he did not deserve to be arrested or executed – a judgment in which the man of sacralist convictions cannot of course concur.  Only in a sacralist climate would men deal in such a way with such a man.” 

Footnote from book, p. 55:  “In the sentences whereby heretics were sent to the stake it was usually specified that the execution was to be by ‘small fire.’  It seems that in the case of Servetus green wood was used, so that it took three hours before he was pronounced dead.”

“When the news was out that Servetus had died in the fire, a cry of outrage resounded over most of Europe.  It is true that many of the leaders of the Reform applauded the burning (Melanchthon, for example, wrote that ‘the Church owes and always will owe a debt of gratitude to you for having put the heretic to death’); although it is also true that some, even in Geneva itself, refused to put their names to a document supporting the execution.  But there was a chorus of protest that issued at once from those circles that had been deeply influenced by the humanizing tendencies of the times.  Contrary to the legend that is kept alive by over-ardent admirers of Calvin, the spirit of the age was already relegating such inhumanity to the limbo of the past.  The Renaissance had not been without its fruitage of toleration.” 
-Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, Eerdmans; 1964.  Reprinted by The Baptist Standard Bearer,Inc., Paris, Arkansas. 

 Verduin goes on to point out how after the burning of Servetus, John Calvin and Beza continued to vigorously defend their brutal, torturous murder of Servetus. 

Thank God for the ideal, largely promoted by Anabaptists and Baptists, of Religious Liberty for all.  Thank God for Religious Liberty in America, although that liberty is being threatened. 

The book, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, should be read by anyone interested in Anabaptists, Baptists, the Radical Reformers, and Religious Liberty.  The book is marred in places by Latin and other languages with no English translation.  I’m a big believer in writing in easy to understand language.  It would also be helpful to explain the geographical sites with modern day language and countries, maybe a map or two.  In spite of this, it is well worth reading and studying. 

“It is difficult for me to speak in restrained terms about this most excellent study. Verduin has done a thorough job of research. He writes obviously out of a background rich in historical information and understanding. This book is all the more significant since it comes from the pen of one of the Reformers' family and not from among the offspring of the ‘stepchildren.’”  
- W. R. Estep Jr., SWBTS
The Reformers and Their Stepchildren has also been highly recommended by Paige Patterson. 

Sacralism – Leonard Verduin’s term for the belief and practice that the church and state are one.  The government should have a state religion and enforce those beliefs against any dissenters.  Religious Liberty is rejected.  This also means the church is filled with unsaved people, since everyone is automatically enrolled in the state church.  Anabaptists, Baptists, baptistic Christians, and others obviously dissented. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 27, AD 2016. 


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