Tag Archives: Truth

Notebook Review & Resources (4/2016 – 9/2016)

If you know me, you know that I am adamant about the Spiritual and mental health that is provided through notekeeping and journaling.
As I have grown through the years, I have “catalogued” everything. I have also grown accustomed to writing a review every time I finish a notebook – for my own benefit, however many have said they found the details to be edifying. Namely, for my benefit because if you ever read my notes you know full well that they need to be decoded to make any sense, many times, even to me.

 

This most recent notebook was rather small. It looked important though. 🙂 And these last couple months have had some growth spurts, so I am excited to share and review myself. As I have said to some, this has been a harvesting season in my life and ministry. Glory to God!
On April 11th, I wrote in my notes that I woke up thinking about the power of the local church. I wrote, “The local church provides the “knowledge of God” to enable us to live like, worship like, and ultimately love Jesus Christ”. This is a timely encouragement and very important, as I just woke up this morning to reading through my various social networks how so many have come to reject the power of gathering with a local congregation. They spout all sorts of nonsense from “mad-made institution” to “legalism”. In this regard, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for the April “Monthly Preterist Conference Call” and the topic I had spoken upon was “The Efficacy of the Local Church”. You can listen to that and read more, and the following link, https://preteristconferencecalls.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/01-michael-miano-the-efficacy-of-the-local-church/

 

Early on in the year, as a sort of “divine unction” I began to get very involved in local networking, social meetings, and outreach. This afforded us at Blue Point Bible Church quite a few opportunities to serve the larger community with Brentwood “Hope Day”, hosting a Blood Drive, and being involved in local civic and chamber of commerce gatherings, as well as helping and being involved with other local nonprofits. I also learned a lot, found some inspirations and burdens, and made some friends along the way. #ThePastorLife
As I mine through my notes, I have decided I simply want to share some details and resources that edified me during what seems to be the “season” I was in for while.
Kurt Willems, an Anabaptist writer and pastor, put together an excellent examination of the difference perspectives of Pauline literature (the writings of the Apostle Paul). A great point he made in the midst of that series, which I have mentioned many times before in blogs and even sermons, was “If we don’t know the history, just the theology, we come up with all sorts of answers”. Even if I may not agree with all of his conclusions, I must say Pastor Willems did a great job on this podcast, which you can access at the following link, http://paulcast.org/
It was either earlier April or even late March that I began communications with a Bible teacher named Lloyd Dale. He had emailed me and began discussion regarding some points of theology we agree and disagree on. I was blessed to read through and listen to some of his presentations , and look forward to further communication with him. One point he made in a lecture, which is timely as we currently go through a month of Jewish Feasts, is “If you do not understand what “The Promised Land” was a “type” of, then you do not know what you need to know”.
For the past 2 Sundays at The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.com), we have been highlighting how important Understanding Contextual Details in Scripture truly is in regards to “Being Christian”, and brother Llloyd Dale highlights that. You can read and listen to his messages at the following link, http://lloyddale.com/ I personally recommend his teaching on “The Kingdom”.
In the midst of this season, I was challenged by a local pastor regarding my understanding of 2 Corinthians chapter 5:6, the infamous “absent from the body, present with the Lord” verse. I was told my understanding of this text, as referring to the “Corporate Body” of Old Covenant saints made me a “heretic” and not “Christian” (even to the extend of trying to have me removed from local pastor meetings). Anyway, this highlights an ongoing discussion and debate within the “preterist movement” regarding the Corporate Body View (CBV) held by Dr. Don K. Preston, William Bell, Larry Siegle, and many others (ie. Covenant Eschatology), and the Individual Body at Death (IBD) perspective, held to by Mr.Ed Stevens, and is more intimately connected to the common “futurist understanding” of the “glorified body”.

I love the work of all of these men, even in disagreement, and look forward to playing my part in helping bring forth clarity on this “resurrection” issue, all the while being humble and kind to one another. I know of about 3 different works currently happening to foster a better understanding of these details.

I had talked a bit about these disagreements and details as found all throughout “Church History” on MGW Online Radio a while back. You can still go back and listen to the podcasts. However, in the midst of the series I had been doing, I took a brief hiatus, and am looking to re-launch the show on October 24th with a series that will bring forth a host of clarity and healing in regards to Full Preterism. I will be bringing guests on the show (even some of the people mentioned in this blog) to discuss pertinent issues, and challenging the various “flavors of Preterism”. Look forward to that coming soon. Visit www.MianoGoneWild.com

As I come to a close with this review, I have to mention a couple last things. I have been blessed to have a co-laborer with perseverance and vision right here on Long Island. Johnny Silonski (Ova) has been a blessing and as I review my notes, I see he put forth some resources that I was blessed by. One comment he made that really stirred me, and has much to do not only with my testimony, but also with all that I labor to do is “My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects”. Amen! Listen to Johnny detail that and more on the Omega Man podcast as well as his thoughts on “The Nature of the Kingdom”, at the following links:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/omegamanradio/2010/08/13/episode-29–johnny-ova-jeff-and-mike-beavers

https://preteristconferencecalls.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/04-johnny-ova-the-nature-of-the-kingdom/

Ironically, on August 31, 2016 I was questioning the seeming “new season” it seemed God was bringing my into. I write this now 2 months later, and through all of these resources, the blessing of an amazing congregation as BPBC, the love and concern of my fiancee, and the Spirit of God, I can testify that God surely brought me into a new season. Confirmation came through the recent book, Chase the Lion written by Pastor Mark Batterson. The book challenges you through various stories of inspiration, as well as Scriptural examples of the need for us to go after dreams and goals that are God-inspired. In his usual fashion, Pastor Batterson convicts the reader to truly examine what God wants them to do for His glory. A book that truly speaks to our time and need, if not, then for a soon coming season.
Two quotes that I was inspired by, which are pretty much carrying me into my next season, and I pray they will challenge you as well are:

“The Christian is called upon not to be like a thermometer conforming to the temperature of his society but he must be like a thermostat serving to transform the temperature of his society”.
– MLK Jr. (Transformed Nonconformist)

“We have learned: One may do much or one may do little, it is all one, provided he/ she directs his/her heart to heaven”. – Rabbi’s of Jabneh

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Who is That?!? Yahweh’s Divine Council (Part 2)

For the past month of so, I have continually obsessed and examined the “Divine Heavenly Council” teachings that are coming into the Church, especially pertaining to those in the Preterist view.

In part 1, we examined the phrase “ben elohim” which can mean either “sons of God” or “sons of the gods” depending on the context in which we find it being used. Neither time does the phrase speak of “otherworld being” or what we often erroneously refer to as “spirit beings”, instead some times the “sons of God” is a reference to Israel, and other times it is a reference to pagan believers (“sons of the gods”).

Let me be clear. I do believe in a “Spiritual Realm” (while I will readily admit this is an area I am willing to learn and do some study). I do believe in “spirit beings” – however I am cautious not to allow my mind to create figments of my imagination and then impose them on Scripture. As I put the Scriptural Narrative at the forefront and examine ANE literature, what I like to call taking a Biblical look at the ANE, I find the story of a God who is Spirit who is inviting His people to become like Him. The whole narrative of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is painting this picture. Our understanding of the “Spiritual realm” must start there.

With that said, I wanted to take you through some of points in the “Divine Heavenly Council” that seem to be out of sync with the rest of the Biblical narrative. In this examination I will focus on passages provided in the article by Jeffrey McCormack in Fulfilled! Magazine called “Yahweh’s Divine Council” .

Again let me reiterate the focus of this part 2, namely to show that the Scriptures and phrases used to support this teaching of “Yahweh’s Divine Council” are not being demonstrated in line with the context of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation.

Below we will look at some of the verses Mr. McCormack uses to propagate his view of the “watchers” being an assembling hierarchy of “little g” gods. A view in which he further states “Thus, when we read of gods such as Baal and Molech, we are reading of these angelic leaders.”

The book of Psalms is a noted as a poetic book, one of the “books of wisdom” in Scripture, which use highlight poetic/allegoric details to bring us into the Wisdom of the Father. It is important to consider what style of literature you are reading when seeking to use verses to make a point. I would hardly use the poetic language in Psalms to prove doctrinal points. In reading through the Psalms, I have found I tend to agree with the simple readings offered by translations such as NIV and NLT rather than the more dogmatic KJV or NASB. Read through the Psalms in different translations and see for yourself.

OK so, Psalm chapter 82 it seems to be a rant against the rampant idolatry in Israel. If you study through the historic context in the days of King David you will find how this fits. Israel was continually judged for their failure to heed the Wisdom of the Father by their being enticed to wickedness and idolatry. This Psalm speaks against that. The one true God, when put in a courtroom setting with the other so-called “gods” he is the true Judge, the one who lasts forever, and in due time He will bring forth judgment. Pretty much the continual cry of the righteous in Israel against the rampant idolatry.

In Psalm chapter 89, we are reading a praise of God’s sovereignty. In this praise we are reading a polemic against the other false narratives of the gods. The mention of the chaos and the serpent-creature Rahab alludes to the myths and lies of the pagan beliefs. Again, this is all done in poetic prose not to assert the validity of the pagan “gods”, simply to exclaim praise for the One True God.

Failure to understand the poetic style of these statements seems to be the issue with McCormack’s using these verses to try to validate his “Heavenly Council” stuff. Simply put, when we understand and pay attention to the genre of the Psalms, and the historical context of what was happening during the time of King David and the writing of the Psalms, the “poems” seem rather clear in depicting the sovereignty of God. Bringing strange teachings about otherworldly beings does not fit within the historic narrative and audience relevance.

In his article, Mr. McCormack writes, “Space does not permit discussing it here, but read 1 Kings 22:19-22 to see this divine council at work”. In that passage we read the prophetic words of Micaiah against King Ahab. He speaks prophetically about the sovereignty of God and how a false spirit was within the king’s prophets who told him to go to war against Ramoth-Gilead.

Mr. McCormack would have us to believe that this prophetic picture is a real event happening in the heavens, wherein a one of the “divine council” have decided to falsely lead King Ahab’s prophets. His perspective seems to illustrate confusion in reading through the prophetic versus what actually happened. Consider how prophets talked about wars and calamities that occurred.

He further details that within the historic narrative of people becoming disobedient to Yawweh, He finally gave them over to the leadership of lesser gods. Not only does that sound ludicrous, Mr. McCormack even tries to utilize Scripture in the midst of his confusion. Consider his citation of Dueteronomy 4:19; 29:26; and 32:8-9.

And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19)”

If you do an honest reading through the Law of Moses, and ultimately understand the reason for it (to set His people, Israel, apart from the nations and the rampant idolatry), you will see clearly what this verse is saying. Whereas all the pagans looked into the sky and made “gods” of all that they saw, Moses herein is instructing God’s people not to look into the sky (shamayim in the Hebrew) and worship anything – not the sun, not the moon, not the stars, nothing of the group of things they see in the sky.

For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them..(Dueteronomy 29:26)”.

I can see how a cursory reading of this verse can lend us to the idea that God gave Israel over to false gods, a reading very similar to what we read by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 1. However, I believe God gave His truth to His people and they forsook it, and God is speaking in contrast to that. His people began to worship gods who they made up, as the Prophets say again and again, whom He had not given them – in contrast to His giving of Himself and His truth. There is no need to go on and read strange details our reading.

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.“For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:8-9)”.

I have read through Deuteronomy chapter 32 again and again, even using the text in my own apologetics regarding Preterism, and I have never read this in the text. As I looked into commentaries on the text I realized most commentators are in line with the natural understanding I would have gathered from the text. You can see for yourself by visiting this link which provides various commentaries, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/deuteronomy/32-8.htm

All in all, as I explained this morning in Bible study, we must develop an understanding of Spirituality that is in line with the narrative and details we find in Scripture. The Prophets spoke to give ‘spiritual clarity’ in regards to historic events that were happening. Hebraic Spirituality in contrast to pagan or later developed Hellenistic Spirituality was abstract and not necessarily “otherworldly”. That offers a shameless plug to my upcoming book release, Wicked: The Search for Spirituality and Life, wherein I will further explain the distinction of Hebraic spirituality and it’s God-ordained inspiration from other versions of “spirituality” which sum up to be the wild thoughts of man’s imagination.

I pray I have offer clarity in these regards.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Michael Miano

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Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God – MAKE DISCIPLES!!

Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God”

As of June 2015, I (Pastor Michael Miano) have begun leading a discipleship program that I have developed through years of learning from other discipleship programs. We are calling this “Immersed Discipleship”.

The name says it all. I am endeavoring to disciple others the way I myself was discipled- by being immersed into the knowledge of God. Keeping in mind the concept of ‘milk & meat’, I seek to bring together those who want to be discipled and show them with the ‘things of God’ -whether it be deep doctrinal stuff, life application, or challenging ourselves in regards to outreach and evangelism- the goal is to help those coming into the faith to be “neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8)”.

There is really no limit or boundary in regards to what we discuss at ‘Immersed Discipleship’. For example, last week in one of our classes, some of our discussion was based around the historical controversy of the Donatists. Here is an interesting article on those details for your studying pleasure:

http://gregsvoboda.com/2013/01/the-donatist-controversy-the-most-important-heresy-youve-never-heard-of/

Surely, as persecution of Christians continues, we can find some relevancy for ourselves in that historic conversation.

All of those details noted, a point that I made at our recent class was that 2,000 years after Christ first instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel, we find ourselves sitting in a local church class room endeavoring to be His disciples. I regularly have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and see people become interested in what Jesus offers.

*Keep on the ‘lookout’ for an upcoming video I will release, “The Fulfilled Gospel in 6 Minutes” on YouTube in days to come.

After we heed the Gospel (namely the truth of Matthew 7:24-29), we then should be seeking to “walk worthy of 2 Peter 1:8.

For the remainder of this blog, I want to share with you a couple of ways I believe discipleship should be worked out in your life. God willing, I will provide you with a basic knowledge of how you can apply 2 Peter 1 to your life.

Missiologist and Theologian, David Bosch noted “For the disciple of Jesus, the stage of discipleship is not the first step toward a promising career. It is itself the fulfillment of his or her destiny”.

As a disciple your priority should be to gather with other saints to exhort and encourage each other to be accountable in personal discipleship, as well be the ‘healing of the nations’ as a community. At the Blue Point Bible Church (which I pastor) we have the following ‘mission statement’:

The purpose of this church shall be to make disciples, that is to produce mature believers, by carrying out God’s objectives for His Church in the world, evangelizing the lost and edifying the people of God”.

I call this the COLLECTIVE part of your discipleship.

The “collective church community” should further serve to build you up as a member of the Body, essentially the ‘purpose’ and ‘unity’ of the faith as preached by the Apostle Paul brings us in this direction. If 2 Peter chapter 1 is not an exhortation enough (which we will be dealing with as we conclude this blog), then let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:1-0. Go ahead and read the text.

Reading through 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, not only do you get a glimpse of the Apostle Paul’s concerns, you also see that God’s strength is shown in our weaknesses. The goal of gathering “collectively” is for us to not only see, but come to realize it is not about us- it’s about Him. The “collective church community” should seek to exhort and encourage the believer through the knowledge of God, bringing about a “strength” that only comes from God, and could never be exemplified through man. Again remember, it’s all about His glory! That should be your INDIVIDUAL focus.

The work of the “collective church community” and the “individual” is to seek out, understand, and live in proper doctrine. Reading through the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy shows this very clearly. Go ahead and read through 1 Timothy chapters 2-4. Bad doctrine, or a messed up understanding of the things of God is compared to “dirty water” in Scripture. Who wants to drink “dirty water”? Worst yet, how does one feel after drinking “dirty water”?

In matters of discipleship we have noted that not only are ‘eschatological doctrines’ among many other areas in need of “study to show ourselves approved”, sadly even the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (or what we might refer to as the ‘practical applications’ of our faith are distorted as well. Some have referred to this as “The Crisis of the Sermon on the Mount”. A great article on that topic can be found here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1995/july17/5t8038.html

As we contemplate the ‘true knowledge of God’, what should become clear beyond anything else is that without Christ, we will never “walk worthy” of the things of God. God offering covenant to us without Jesus is essentially “bad news”. We cannot and will not walk worthy- thus demonstrating the need for Jesus Christ. In these regards I enjoy this quote by Leo Tolstoy:

The test of observance of Christ’s teachings is our consciousness of our failure to attain to an ideal perfection. To the degree which we draw near, this perfection cannot be seen, all we see is the extent of our deviation”.

If you can come to that conclusion each and every time you study the doctrines of God, your DOCTRINAL understanding is in a healthy place.

That brings us to the final point, some may argue the most important- How to apply these things to my life? I have come to refer to this type of questioning as “diligent discipleship”.

I am fond of reading and learning from others, even to the extent that I recently accused myself of “following man”. However, praise-fully, I was rebuked by the Word. As the Apostle Paul himself admonishes the saints to be followers of him in 1 Corinthians 4:16 as well as in 11:1. Timothy was told in the letters to him to be mindful of who he received the faith from, and live like them.

Surely that brings together- collective, individual, doctrinal, and application discipleship. It must be done in community, it must be done diligently, and ultimately for the glory of God.

In our Wednesday Bible Study (just another way we walk worthy of our purpose at B.P.B.C.), we have been reviewing a series done by a man named Ray Vander Laan, and he details much of what I detailed in this blog- yet he refers to our lives in discipleship as “a well watered garden”. Author Vera Nazarian has noted, “The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte. “. I pray this blog has further exhorted you to become a ‘mater of the garden’ as it pertains to your discipleship.

In keeping with that line of thinking, here is a list of things to do in the Garden. Let’s start calling it our “Gardening List” (cf. 2 Peter 1)

  1. applying all diligence” – do this with a concentrated and constant effort
  2. in your faith supply moral excellence” – remembering that “faith” cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1), the excellent morals we live by can be seen (read Philippians 2:1-11)
  3. add knowledge” – awareness, facts, information, and skill about the “things of God”
  4. add self-control” – ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands
  5. add perseverance” – be steadfast in what your doing despite possible trying circumstances
  6. add godliness” – Desire to bring glory to God
  7. add brotherly kindness” – do good to others, especially those of the household of faith
  8. love- love God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength as well as love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you: for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2 Peter 1:8-11)”.

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you (2 Peter 1:12)”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

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Man of Dust – Genesis & Ancient Near Eastern Origins

Recently, I have been in discussion with someone regarding the “dust” and “death” found in the beginning of Genesis, specifically Adam (man) being made of the “dust” of the ground and thus returning to it. What is this saying?

Before I start, please allow me to assert that I believe in a honest handling of God’s Word, and the need to “study to show ourselves approved RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORLD OF TRUTH” (2 Timothy 2:15). That being noted, I do not want to impose an understanding that is not there, and I want to find the most “literal” understanding of the text possible, what is known as ‘sensus literalis’.

The words of Mr. R.C. Sproul, a well known Bible teacher, fit rightly here:

There is much confusion regarding the “literal” sense of Scripture…To interpret the Bible “literally” in the classic sense requires that we learn to recognize in Scripture different genres of literature. Poetry is to be interpreted as poetry, and didactic passages are to be interpreted according to the grammar of the didactic. Historical narrative must not be treated as parable, nor parable as strict historical narrative. Much of Bible prophecy is cast in an apocalyptic genre that employs graphic imaginative language and often mixes elements of common historical narrative with the figurative language.” (1)

This is where we must do the proper legwork. Sure, we can just pick up Genesis as 21st century Westerners and demand that the Scriptures make the points we want them to make about the things we want them to detail, as many do. Or….we can be honest and humble in our reading and studying and realize the ancient world is vastly different than ours. The concerns of those times are different than ours, and therefore the details of writing are as well.

Coming to an agreement concerning what type of genre the book of Genesis comes to us as is an rather intriguing study. The book ‘Beyond Creation Science’ by Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn, first opened my eyes to taking a step back and really looking at the culture from which Genesis comes and the details it notes- finding Genesis to be more prophetic and apocalyptic than I had initially thought. Then reading through Dr. John Walton’s lectures on Youtube surely opened my eyes to understanding the concept of Genesis as a ‘temple text’ and it’s details in that environment rather than what I initially thought they meant.

Again….we must decide…do we really want the truth out of the text, essentially what it “literally” says, or are we content with just making things up and keeping our own view? That is exactly what has spurned by studies, and led me to the views I hold today.

Author Robert Gundry exhorts us in this regard:

…we must presume that the text as it stands had a meaning for the author and his first readers. We want to discover that meaning. The path to discovery lies along the line of historical- grammatical interpretation, which assumes that the language of the Biblical text, including its symbolic language, grows out of and speaks to the historical situation of the writer and his readers. To take a non-referential view of language, may open up possibilities of contemporary interest and deconstruction play, but it blocks the path of historical understanding.”

So…in my honest study, I have begun to look at the world of the Ancient Near East. Most within ‘critical scholarship’ have now begun to point those who want to understand the Book of Genesis in this direction. Granted I have made these remarks before, have written about understanding the Bible “literally”, (2) and defended these positions in debates- yet herein I want to show the proper understanding of the creation of man and the story that tells- from the Ancient Near East to the overly Hellenistic Western world.

The ANE audience hardly was concerned nor would have attempted to explain in graphic detail how God had made man, save for understanding the function of man in the world. Genesis serves as a ‘polemic’, or argument against the cultures of the Ancient Near East, as blog writer T.E. Hanna notes,

Rather than adopting the mythologies of the surrounding Ancient Near East, the Hebrew cosmologies were written as a criticism of them. As theological education for an emerging Israelite nation, the purpose of these narratives was to emphasize the nature of the God of Israel in contrast to the surrounding polytheism, while also conveying His superiority over competing religions.”

Now that we have made ourselves somewhat aware of the context of the Book of Genesis, let’s begin to take a look.

Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 1:24-31.

Here we read that God made all the animals and then goes about to create man – In His Image, and to have dominion over all of that which God created.

As one becomes familiar with the Ancient Near East, we would see that this Genesis story runs contrary to the contemporary understanding of that culture. As Wheaton proffessor, Dr. John Walton has noted, “In Mesopotamia the cosmos functions for the gods and in relation to them. People are an afterthought, seen as just another part of the cosmos that helps the gods to function. In Israel the cosmos functions for people and in relation to them. God does not need the cosmos, but it is his temple. It functions for people.” (3)

I have a writing on this called ‘The Ancestral Story of the ‘Image of God'(4) which can be found on the internet, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the work of Mrs. Rebekkah Devine (or Giffone as I note in my article). When I came to understand how in Genesis man was set up as the ‘image of God’ in contrast to the way the ANE viewed man, I was amazed. Man is created to display the glory of God, not the idols, nor the “created things” that man turns into idols.

Now let’s take a look at Genesis 2:4-9.

Studying out the details of “heaven and earth” in Scripture is a praiseworthy study. Verse 4 here gives us a beginning of understanding the way this phraseology was used by the ancient Hebrews, and essentially was was being ‘made’ by God in this account. Surely you don’t believe that what God is saying here is that the ‘heaven and earth’ has a genealogy, do you? Oddly some have made some strange interpretations, yet if you study out the term in its context and usage- you find this term simply applies to God’s people.

What we are reading in Genesis chapters 1-3 is the “creation story” of the one True God and how He formed His “heaven and earth”.

In Genesis 2:7 we have, God ‘forming’ man (adam) out of the ground. The text reads: ‘v’yyitzer YHWH ‘Elohim ‘et ha’adam ‘aphar min ha’adamah’ – or in the English – “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.”

There are some who simply would rather avoid dealing with the historicity of the writing and would assert that this is talking about God materialistically forming man out of ‘dust’, just as they would say that this text is talking about the material creation of Heaven and Earth. If you are ok with imposing a foreign interpretation on the text, that would have hardly been understood by the ancients, then there is nothing I can show you. However, after searching for the definition of the term ‘dust’ (which in Hebrew is ‘aphar’ meaning ground, earth, ashes, or powder), then reading all the passages in Scripture that apply that term, I did not find much clarity as to what is saying. Therefore I turned to historical context for clarity.

It is interesting to further note that in Ancient Near Eastern literature not only is man debased, but the creation of man is usually of the clay of the ground and the blood or spit of the gods- both good and evil. In the Biblical text, man is created of the earth and then God breath’s life into him- giving man a dignity above all other created things. Surely a radical thought in the Ancient Near East that most modern people miss the point of.

A writing that further helped provide clarity pertaining to Genesis :4-7 was an internet writing by Don Stoner. You can access that writing by visiting this link: http://www.dstoner.net/Genesis_Context/Context.html

So in Genesis chapter 2, man is created by God forming him of the dust of the ground, earthy, and is animated as a ‘living soul’ once God breathes into him.

In Genesis 3:14 as well as 3:19, we read that the serpent will go on his belly and eat “dust’ all the days of his life, and Adam after the fall is told he shall return to the dust.

First of all this is where you should begin to notice that this book is a foreign text and not intended to be taken literal. If you hold to a literal walking/ talking serpent that is cursed by God to travel on the ground, then you need to consult the local psychologist.

After noting that simply point, we can begin to search out what the text means in its proper context.

‘Dust’ as used through Scripture and historical context also carries the thought of humility and desperation. When Adam and Eve sin and suffer “the death” due to sin, they are ashamed and hide themselves from God- no longer freely roaming in the blessedness of God’s garden as He provided to them. This will later be the story of fleshly Israel as well- they violate the command God gives them and thus suffer shame.

Adam and Eve are now “dead”, as God told them the day they eat of the tree they shall surely die. God provides them with a covering and removes them from the Garden where they enjoyed God’s presence and possible “immortality” through the Tree of Life. From dust they were created, to dust they shall return.

It is when we study out the “resurrection of the dead” that these things get hopeful. The “resurrection of the dead” will undue the damage of the garden.

Adam and Eve had a beautiful & free relationship with God- based on the “covenant” of one law- don’t eat of that tree- be His image- they failed and died in that covenant relationship- thus returning to dust.

Israel inherited that story, and was provided a covering. They do the same as Adam (Hosea 6:7) and get worse and worse- suffering the fate of returning to the dust and face future judgment (Daniel chapter 12). One writer noted that the “futility” spoken about in Romans 8 is detailing the same “futility” to which creation was subjected in Genesis 3 – it has to do with the idea that it would not do that for which it was designed or intended.

All of this is to note that Genesis chapters 1-3 are not talking about the material creation of the cosmos nor of man, but rather are covenant claims. Genesis is the creation of God’s people- heaven and earth- and how that Old Covenant people were subjected to futility- being of the dust and earthy.

One poet noted, “The sons of Adam are formed from dust; if not humble as the dust, they fall short of being men.

In conclusion, let us praise God for the ‘Second Adam’ as revealed through the New Testament. We, in Christ, do not bear that “dusty” semblance and “death is defeated”! After all as 2nd century Church Father Irenaeus noted, ““The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

This is the goal of our faith- to note that which happened “in the beginning”, the death that comes because of sin, and then rest and proclaim praise in regards Christ’s sacrifice and righteousness. To provide to who would attest to the power of this as the “Christian faith” I will use quotes from 7th century Church bishop Maximus who said, “Christianity is an entirely new way of being human”, and 20th century century German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who remarked, “Christianity is not about religion- it’s about humanity, and making it as God intended it to be.”

Below I will provide a short list of Works Cited. As well as a list of Scriptures that mention “dust” for further study, and of course a host of links that further inform on the context of the Ancient Near East.

Works Cited

  1. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus
  2. https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/how-do-we-literally-understand-the-scriptures/
  3. Dr. John Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve
  4. http://www.academia.edu/9695120/A_Must_Read-_The_Ancestral_Story_of_the_Image_of_God_

Scriptures Pertaining to Dust:

Genesis 2:7; 3:19 – dust; Genesis 3:14; Genesis 13:16; 28:13; 1 Chron 1:9; Genesis 18:27; Genesis 26:15 – translated as earth; 1 Kings 16:2; 2 Kings 13:7 ; Num 19:17; 2 Kings 23:4 – ashes ; Job 4:19; Job 7:21; Job 10:9; Job 14:8 – ground; Job 17:16; Job 21:26; Job 30:19; Psalm 22:15, 29; Psalm 44:25; Psalm 113:17; Lev 14:42, 45 – mortar;2 kings 23:6, 15- powder; Job 42:6; Ecc 3:20; 12:7; psalm 103:14; Neh 4:2, 10 – rubbish; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 47:1; Lamentation 2:10; Nahum 3:18

Websites about the Ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis:

http://www.theologymatters.com/Novdec97.PDF

http://www.newfoundationspubl.org/dust.htm

http://questions.veritas.org/science-faith/origins/what-genre-is-genesis-1-2/

http://tehanna.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/OfDustAndKings_HebrewCosmology.pdf

http://www.indiana.edu/~jsp/docs/2013_14/Bern_Essay_winner_Bloom,%20D.pdf

https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/interpreting-adam-an-interview-with-john-walton

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0825439272/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0825439272&linkCode=as2&tag=michsheiscom-20&linkId=LVYPNGNYCGRJSJSD

http://davidjohnstone.net/blog/2009/12/notes-lost-world-genesis-one-john-walton

http://oyc.yale.edu/transcript/945/rlst-145

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Always Reforming- Confusion, Clarity, & Controversy

We can’t help but acknowledge the seemingly prophetic words of William Tyndale, the Christian reformer, who in the mid-16th century proclaimed to the then Catholic Pope, “I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you!”

The Protestant Reformation which I believe should be properly be attributed to the glory of God, however can be traced back to the use of Jan Hus as a vessel used by God. So erupted the challenge, that the “average Christian” is called to be apart of the ‘Priesthood of Christ’ and not some religious elite. The Bible was put in the comman mands hands, and thus began the confusion. Denominationalism is what occured as many servants of God began to understand various truths contained in the Scriptures. The Reformed churches placed importance on doctrine, while the anabaptists sought to throw the government off of the people of God. The Anglicans would have their own perspective, and even some within the Catholic Church sought reform (i.e. Erasmus).

As I preached this last Sunday, it would be the God-led work of John Calvin who would seek to offer clarity in the midst of confusion. Surely the 21st century Christian Church can understand that sentiment, amen?

John Calvin which initiate a deeper look at the story of Scripture in what would come to be known as “Systematic Theology”. You can listen to my past sermon on these details by visiting the following link, http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/239650-closing-up-with-clarity-on-calvinism

Since the time of reformation, there has been plenty of controversy and disagreement within the Church. Clarity is surely not all that easy, as anyone who has discussed any topic in public, especially in our post-modern society, should know. There is always that person that will disagree, and you know what? They may have a good argument. I personally have begun a discussion with a brother named Jason Watt on an area similar to the whole John Calvin/ Jacob Arminius controversy. Jason holds to a view called “Open Theism” while I would be more in line with “Calvinism”. We both are diligent students of the Word, we both agree on many areas, however this topic, which we both deem to be pretty darn important, we find controversy. As I detail the history of this historic doctrinal controversy, I am excited to display brotherly love, humility, and respect as we deal with the details in regards to the glory of God. You can read Jason Watt’s article here, http://fulfilledfocus.blogspot.com/2015/01/conversations-with-pastor-miano.html

I follow John Calvin’s line of thinking in the regard that to even think it is possible for man to contemplate or ponder approaching the grace of God, in other words giving man the ‘choice’, is simply put “robbing God of His sovereignty”. If you go about reading John Calvin’s Commentaries of the “Providence” of God, or read through his, Institutes on the Christian Religion, you will find despite the mass confusion regarding the doctrines that follow Calvin, his goal was to defend the sovereignty of God.

In his day, due to the revolt against the Catholic doctrines of Popery and clergy, penance, as well as the very doctrines of man’s understanding of salvation, John Calvin sought to put the details in their right place- taking the false authority the Catholic Church had given to man. Instead, throughout his writings, John Calvin sought to demonstrate the ‘total depravity’ of man as revealed through the narrative of Scripture, nothing good can come from him, and all the good decisions outside of his “carnal nature” is immediately given back to God.

Why would someone want to argue this? Calvin would have simply pointed out that the “innate idolatry” ever present within man causes man to always endeavor to bring glory back to himself- therefore arguing against the very purposes and will of God.

In this article, I want to demonstrate how the Arminian Remonstrance indeed comes off in that manner.

The Arminian Remonstrance was a response to the Belgic Confession (1561) which was drawn up in 1610. The followers of Jacob Arminius, in an effort to memorialize the teachings of their leader after his death, drew up the ‘Five Arminian Articles’ in 1610, in an effort to dispute the Belgic Confession (1561). For some history, information, and a read through this Confession visit the following link, http://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/belgic-confession

You can read these 5 Artictles themselves by visiting this link:

http://www.esvbible.org/resources/creeds-and-catechisms/article-the-five-arminian-articles-1610/

Something that seems to not come up enough in the Calvinist-Arminianist debate is that both sides believe in “election”. Election is simply the view that God has chosen some and not others. What ‘Article 1’ of the Arminian Articles does it takes the authority away from God and gives it to man. Man is the author of his salvation and God simply follows suit. If only Adam had wandered into the garden on his own….however that did not happen (see, Genesis 2:15; Hebrews 12:2).

Instead, a proper view of “predestination” as originally posited by St. Augustine, then outlined by John Calvin in his Commentaries, and furthered by Ulrich Zwingli gives all authority to God in regards to His Elect.

Much of the confusion comes from “proof texts” instead of understanding the full force of the Biblical narrative. When we open our Bibles, we are reading God reaching down and bringing clarity/order to man, not man pondering the clarity/order he so desires. Simply put, ‘total depraved’ man cannot do good, which means man cannot ponder approaching God unless God acts first. That is the narrative of Israel being drawn out through the Scriptures, being highlighted through the necessity of the Incarnation. God must do something because we simply can’t. Far too many Christians seem to be reading their Bibles from a bottom to the top mindset, putting themselves in charge, rather than top to bottom, properly recognizing the sovereignty of God.

This is exactly what John Calvin was going against. The dangers of such a system is it makes man the author of his own destiny, which understably is an exciting concept, yet again, I posit it robs God of His Rulership.

Following such logic, than robs the Elect of all that God did for them and makes what I can a “Big G God” into a little “g” god. ‘Unlimited Atonements’ means that Christ came and died for all, and we all have an opportunity to partake. This completely removes the story from the narrative of Scripture. It was Israel that needed atonement from the Law they were under. It would be the grace & faithfulness of God fulfilling the promises of intervening on Israel’s behalf that would explode to the surrounding nations and cause them to glorify Him (see, Romans chapters 9 & 15). Again the use of “proof texts” in the Arminian Articles brings much confusion.

Honestly, a simple read through the Arminian Articles should cause one to shudder at how we are putting man in control, all in an effort to give man “free will”, and taking the control that God has and is drawn out through the narrative of Scripture.

I firmly believe that is the key and am willing to walk worthy. In settling alot of these disputes, we must come from a “full gospel” perspective. In noting the harm of “proof texts”, I believe we must follow the narrative of Scripture and if we truly do not believe that God has retired or changed (see, Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6 ) then we must allow the narrative to inform our view of how it is that God works in and through our lives.

Remember this…..the carnal mind is at war with God (Romans 8:7). This is displayed through the story of Scripture, in that for no other reason than bestowing grace upon man, God has chosen to create “covenant”. He did it with Adam, yet Adam chose his own way. He did it with Israel, and Israel again chose their own way. Through Christ the opprotunity has been make known, not simply to the tribes of Jacob, but to all who are called by Him (Isaiah 49:6; John 1:13).

Recognizing the story through the narrative of Scripture, I surely do not endeavor to walk the lines of fallen Adam and judged Israel, instead recognizing the sovereigty of God and the depravity of man (innate idolatry), I would much rather not exalt my “free will” and give in to idolatry, than to attribute the proper sovereignty to the God who desveres it.

As I sum up my thoughts on the Calvinist-Arminian debate that is still ongoing to our day, I simply want to posit my presupposition that this God is to amazing and sovereign for me to even begin to ponder approaching Him, and God fobid that I think such a grace that He bestows upon man is ressistible (see, Isaiah 55:11; James 4:15) . Which therefore makes an “open theism” completely impossible. For some Calvinst “proof texts”, visit the following link, http://www.calvinistcorner.com/verses-gods-sovereignty.htm

In His Service & For His Glory,

Pastor Michael Miao

(P.S.- This is not the full response I would like to give to Jason Watt’s article, that will be coming soon…)

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Have you made some RESOLUTIONS for 2015?

I continually challenge friends and family to make “new year’s resolutions” and to write them down. I’m not sure where it was, however I do remember reading a while back that statistically speaking, those who write down and record their resolutions are more likely to to get them accomplished.

Here is a link to 2014’s resolution list, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/ensuring-completeness-in-2o14-resolutions/

Last year my motto was to “Begin with the end, to the ends of the earth”, which pointed to my debate with Pastor Bruce Bennett early in the year and our 1st annual Power of Preterism Conference at The Blue Point Bible Church. Preterism has grown so much this last year, I can’t even begin to tell you all the encouraging emails and phone calls I get about how Preterism is changing the world. Glory to God. As of this morning, the debate I had with Pastor Bennett is at 7, 149 views. Wow

If you had not had ample opportunity to watch through the debate, here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNXL-4nl3zs

ORGANIZE

I am glad to say that the first resolution I started out with last year was to get a bit organized in regards to my paperwork and so forth, and for the most part I have accomplished that. I must admit though, this is a resolution every year. This year I want to carry that a bit futher.

1.) I am excited to begin a new focused method of study. This year I am taking the Blue Point Bible Church through the whole narrative story of Scripture- therefore all my studies will be organized to fir into the narrative. My only other area of intense study this year (outside of occasional discussions and readings) is the Catholic Catechism.

2. ) Also, I have already begin talking to B.P.B.C.about “ministry meetings” and seeking to better manage what we offer as a congregation. Obviuously this will requite organize many papers. Starting ministries and persevering, as well as developing “office hours”.

Clarity, Movement, Alignment, and Focus in all things!

GROW IN CALLING

I don’t believe this is something that will ever not be a resolution. I believe it is a necessity to constantly be growing in the grace and knowledge of God, as that pertains to Scripture, and to our walks in life. Therefore I am always seeking our information, insights, and wisdom about how to grow into my pastorate. However, I do believe I did a decent job this year. We surely learned a lot this year at The Blue Point Bible Church.

3.) Meeting with other ministers and attending conferences has done a great service to helping me both understand and walk in my calling this year. I pray to continue having that experience, as well as delving into Richard Baxter’s ‘The Reformed Pastor’ and other pastoral helps. From some insights I gained earlier in the week, it seems Charles Spurgeon might have a lot to offer in that area as well. Unfortunately, as I read through last years “resolutions”, this was the goal for 2014. Well….persevere!

4.) Also, a resolution of mine last year was to organize & continue the work of the Freaked Out Movement as well as Miano Gone Wild Radio Program. Well, we might call it a “growth spurt” but I have decided to end those ministries, and start with what I see as more matured efforts. Now, The Power of Preterism Network and Bible Beacon Broadcasts are my focus.

The Power of Preterism Network exists to help support furthering the cause of Full Preterism as a powerful reformational tool within Christianity. You can learn more as this develops by visiting www.powerofpreterism.com

Also, Bible Beacon Broadcasts has a host of Preterist speakers doing shows. I air on Tuesday mornings at 8am eastern. Visit www.blogtalkradio.com/templetalk for more info

5. ) Last year I had endeavored upon “journaling the Scriptures”, however I was not able to complete this. Maybe this will be an idea I can pick up in the future, because this year I am looking to publish a new book, “Wicked: A Biblical Narrative” by the end of 2015. ‘Wicked’, will be a book about the fate of the wicked, and what the says to our world today. I promise this will not be some “fire and brimstone stuff”, instead will challenge you in regards to how you may live out the Gospel message, and how you can play a role in changing the world for the glory of God.

Also, I did not rewrite or republish, Freaked Out by the New Covenant, and at the moment I do not see a pressing need, however might embark upon this during the year.

LIFESTYLE

This is surely an area that can always use work. Last year, I started out my resolutions with the following quote:

If through one man’s life there is little more love and kindness, a little more light and truth in the world, then he will not have lived in vain”. – Alfred Delp

I believe living by that quote in 2015 is a glorious thing as well. I like a quote I found a couple days ago by Jonathan Edwards:

Resolved: to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find , and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same”.

6.) John Piper has developed the thoughts of “Christian Hedonism”, which is something I have spoke about many times before. The warp and woof of Christian Hedonism is bringing glory to God. We were made to be “set free by truth”, living abundantly, with joy and gladness. “God is most satisfied when you are most satisfied in Him”, therefore I endeavor to live out this “Christian hedonist mindset” this year. Also, in doing so I look to continue to be creative in developing Spiritual disciplines. I think of things like taking a walk to the water to relax and pray, stick to Common prayer and continue doing it with friends and family, and so on.

7.) I absolutely love reading through biographical tales of men and women who either lived God glorifying lives, or simple achieved their goals. I was excited when I read the following quote, “Hebrews 11 is a divine mandate to read Christian biography. The unmistakable implication of the chapter is that if we hear about the faith of our forefathers (and mothers), we will “lay aside every weight, and sin, and run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).”

8.) And finally, I want to take the opportunity to read through a Gospel a week, therefore reading all four Gospels every month. Also, I will make time throughout the year to read through and utilize resources that help give me information on living in Christ.

9.) A major resolution that I wanted to create distinction on is that I want to truly take time to spend, share, and appreciate family and friends. I feel like sometimes I am “too busy” to truly enjoy the wonderful people I have around me. I resolve to spend more time fellowshipping, and less time being a busybody.

That about sums up this years resolutions. Surely it is looking to be an exciting year! Amen?

I look forward to others sharing their resolutions!

Blessings in and through the Son,

Pastor Michael Miano

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Your Invitation to “The Normal Christian Life”

Your Invitation to “The Normal Christian Life”

For the past couple weeks, the sermons at the Blue Point Bible Church have been focused on what the privileges of being a Christian and having the presence of God in your life means. I, Pastor Michael Miano, felt convicted after a month long journey talking about the wicked and all that entails- annihilation or eternal conscious torment. After spending a month dealing with all the intellectual and emotional aspects of understanding what exactly the final state of the wicked is, and what the “death” of being outside the ‘Kingdom of God’ is, I felt it necessarily for us as saints to spend some time knowing and living in the privileges of a “Christian life”.

Persecution has an interest effect on Believers. Men of God like Alan Hirsch and Shane Claiborne had spent time bringing out the details of how the persecuted church seems to grow and take the call of being “Christian” much more serious that those who live in comfort. It’s commonly understood that when you have no “creature comforts” you are more liable to give you all for the cause. I believe this is what effected men like Watchman Nee, who not only learned from the persecution of the Boxer Rebellion, but he also offered great exposition on what Christianity should look like in our world. It’s been said that, “Watchman Nee realized that being a Christian is altogether a matter of knowing and experiencing God’s divine life in Christ”.

That is exactly it. As I “continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18), which alone reveals that this “life” is intended to be a growth process of learning of His grace and His knowledge, which comes from being “Spiritual discerned (1 Corinthians chapter 2 speaks of this), I desire to know all the more the simple yet complex truth of “knowing and experiencing God’s divine life in Christ”. We endeavor to “die to self” and allow Christ to live through us- Galatians 2:20, and sure enough I am in agreement with Watchman Nee that is is the “normal Christian life”, this and nothing else.

If you are not living a life that is continually offering you reason to praise God for all that you have in Christ, then you might not be living the “Christian life”. I know this might be a harsh exhortation, however the imagery of Revelation chapters 21-22, and the host of other passages in Scripture where we see the ‘requirements’ for living a “Christian life”, do not offer an apathetic approach. This would have been foreign to the Hebrew mind of what it meant to “follow the rabbi”.

Christian martyr Jim Elliot had few things to say about living a Christ-centered life:

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”

“Lord, make my way prosperous not that I achieve high station, but that my life be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.”

“I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.”

“Wherever you are – be all there.”

Wow! Those are some power-packed statements, amen? One of the things I have been harping on in my messages at B.P.B.C. Is how we are called to “make known the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10)” and how we should view that as an immense privilege. The “value of knowing God” surely isn’t an “ordinary” thing. A “full life” is shown through living for the glory of God, as the prophet Daniel says, “…the people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits (Daniel 11:32)”.

Sadly, so many Christians are still questioning and in doubt as to whether or not they are “living in the Light”. Watchman Nee speaks to us about the trouble of trying to sense the value of God working through our life:

“…the trouble with us is that we are trying to sense it; we are trying to feel its value to estimate subjectively what the blood is for us, we cannot do it. It does not work that way. The blood is first for God to see. We then have to accept God’s valuation of it. In doing so we shall find our salvation. If instead we try to come to a valuation by way of our feelings we get nothing; we remain in darkness. No, it’s a matter of faith in God’s word”.

He goes on to explain how important it is to be “born again”, and to be “found in Christ”:

“Are you a man? If your life is on a lower plane than that of God’s life, then you cannot belong to the Divine family…Our only hope as men is to receive the Son of God, and when we do so, His life in us will constitute us as Sons of God”.

Yes, you read that right. No Jesus, No life. Know Jesus, know life!

I invite you right now to live that type of life. If your on Long Island, you can join us on Sundays at 11am, at The Blue Point Bible Church – www.bluepointbiblechurch.org, as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. As we say on our “church card”- Get a life, and visit The Blue Point Bible Church.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

You can listen to our Sunday Sermon podcasts by visiting:

www.buzzsprout.com/11630

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