Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Wednesday

18

April 2018

Tips for helping robins

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Tips for helping robins in winter | see more at hopereflected.com

I think we all understand that it’s no longer winter, but seeing as we’re experiencing one last (we hope) blast of winter before spring sets in, today I’m sharing some tips for helping robins. You’ve likely noticed all the robins flitting about in your yard, along the sides of road ways, and in the streets.

Here are some suggestions and tips for helping robins in winter (or in this unseasonable stormy and cold spring):

Tips for helping robins in winter | see more at hopereflected.com

  • It’s a misconception that robins only eat worms. Robins also enjoy various types of berries, and they’ll even eat cracked corn. If you have robins in your yard, set out some berries to help the little guys get through this cold spell: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, raisins, and even apple chunks are favourites.
  • Fresh water. You may think that we’ve got enough precipitation, however even in these cold and freezing temperatures, it’s important for robins (and other birds) to stay hydrated and have a fresh source of water for keeping clean.
  • Ground to forage. This one is tough, especially with that layer of ice that seems to be covering everything, however if you’re able to clear a spot on the ground, robins are creatures who love to forage. You’ve likely noticed them along the sides of your house, or in any place where there’s a clearing (like on the sides of highways and streets).
  • Don’t panic. We have this notion that robins can’t survive cold temperatures or that since they’ve migrated north after all winter that they’re not accustomed to or can’t handle winter weather. They can! But that doesn’t mean we can’t help them out.

For more information about robins, visit Living With Wildlife.

Tips for helping robins in winter | see more at hopereflected.com

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Sunday

1

April 2018

He is Risen | Easter | Resurrection Sunday

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"He is risen, as He said." Matthew 28:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

He is risen! Wishing you a blessed Easter. Happy Resurrection Sunday!

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:1-7

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Friday

23

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:6

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"All we like sheep have gone astray." (Isaiah 53:6) | See more at hopereflected.com

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Sheep need a Shepherd. For Christians, that Shepherd is Jesus Christ.

The role of the Shepherd is to protect the flock. The Shepherd guards the flock with his life. In Jesus’s case, rather than let us suffer the consequences of our sins, He went to the cross for us. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Because Jesus went to the cross and rose the third day, we have the peace and promise of eternal salvation, when we have a relationship with Him.

Consider Christ as our Shepherd. He is our protector. He is our salvation. He is our buckler. He is our high tower. Christ is our Saviour.

This idea of Christ carrying our sins to the cross also translates into Christ carrying us. As the shepherd carries the sheep, so Christ carries us always. “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:9)

As humans, it can be hard to keep our eyes on the Lord. And it can be easy to stray, even when we have a relationship with Christ. “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:176)

And while we all have a habit of turning to our own ways, thankfully the Lord, as our Shepherd, has a habit of keeping His hand on us. “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered: so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Click here to read more from this series on Isaiah 53.

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Thursday

22

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter meditation on Isaiah 53:5

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"The chastisement of our peace was upon him." Isaiah 53:5 | See more at hopereflected.com

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

The first part of Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;”. Jesus carried the weight of our sin to the cross. Every sin, every transgression, and all of our iniquity — even the things that happened last week, and this week, or that will happen in the future — Christ bore it all on the cross. It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it?

Romans 4:25-5:1 puts it like this: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”.

Jesus went to the cross for all of our sins. But He didn’t stay there!

Isaiah 53:5 continues on to say, “the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

What is the chastisement of our peace? In his exposition of the Bible, John Gill explains the chastisement of our peace like this:

“the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
that is, the punishment of our sins was inflicted on him, whereby our peace and reconciliation with God was made by him; for chastisement here does not design the chastisement of a father, and in love, such as the Lord chastises his people with; but an act of vindictive justice, and in wrath, taking vengeance on our sins, of our surety, whereby divine wrath is appeased, justice is satisfied, and peace is made.”

Christ didn’t just go to the cross to die. He went there, carrying all of our sins, so that we might live and have eternal life and peace. I love how it’s described in 1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

Christ went to the cross so that we should live unto righteousness!

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Click here to read more from this series on Isaiah 53.

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Wednesday

21

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter meditation on Isaiah 53:4

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"Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Isaiah 53:4 | See more at hopereflected.com

Casting all your cares on Him

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Isaiah 53:4 is tied to Matthew 8:17 “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”

Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, bore our griefs and carried our sorrows to the cross. And you know what? He still bears our griefs and carries our sorrows to this very day.

When you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have the privilege of casting all your cares on Him.

  • “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
  • “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

Although He faced a world that regarded Him as stricken, although He was smitten of God, although He was afflicted — although Christ carried the burdens of the entire earth to that cross, we all know what happened.

He rose again the third day. Christ conquered the grave. He conquered our sin. He conquered every insecurity and every fear. All we have to do is put our trust in Him. You are able to give your all to Him, casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

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Tuesday

20

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:3

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He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. | See more at hopereflected.com

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:3

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3

With Holy Week starting next Sunday, this week I’m meditating over Isaiah 53 and the New Testament Scriptures that detail the history of our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus was despised, rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, despised. We hid our faces from him, and we esteemed him not.

Psalm 22:6 says, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Jesus was despised. He was rejected. He was the man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief.

If you’re sad, discouraged, down, or depressed, remember this: Jesus has already been through it all. He has been through the deepest grief, and He has felt more sorrow than you will ever know.

We’re told in Hebrews 4:15 that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are….” Jesus knows every aspect of the feeling of your infirmities. He completely understands the depths of your debilitating depression and your grief. You know why? Because He’s been there!

Jesus was in the world, in fact He made the world, and the world knew Him not (John 1:10). If you’re longing for significance, or looking for an answer, I encourage you to look to the Lord. He went to the cross for you. He wants to know you personally. Call out to Him, and He will hear you.

“Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” (Psalm 105:4)

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3

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Monday

19

March 2018

Encouragement | Isaiah 53:3-7

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"The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

Next week marks the beginning of Holy Week, and as we head into this Easter season, I’m meditating on our Lord and what He took on for us, all so we can have eternal life. I woke up Sunday morning with the hymn “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!” stuck in my head, and as Wes and I read through Mark 15 where Jesus stands before Pilate, I realized how casually we often read through the account of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Really there are no words to fully describe or illustrate what Jesus went through leading up to and on and after the cross. This weekend, the passage of scripture found in Isaiah 53 struck me in a new way. I went through and underlined how Isaiah describes what happened to our Lord.

Isaiah 53:3-7 reads [emphasis my own]:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Despised, rejected, man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, carried our sorrows, stricken, smitten of God, afflicted, wounded, bruised, chastised, oppressed, afflicted, brought as a lamb to the slaughter — our Lord endured it all, all so we can have eternal life.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re going through, Jesus has already been through it all for you.

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Thursday

8

March 2018

Hope Reflected | 6 Characteristics of a godly Christian Woman

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

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"Blessed is she that believed." (Luke 1:45) 6 characteristics of a godly Christian woman | See more at hopereflected.com

6 Characteristics of a godly Christian Woman

March 8 the world over is recognized as International Women’s Day. Those who read the news and stay abreast of current events should be well aware of many “female-centric” movements that have developed over the past several years, including the Women’s March or even “I stand with Planned Parenthood”. Both movements have received a lot of media attention from certain networks and publications, and both movements relate specifically to women’s “rights”. Feminism, with its roots in the equality of women, is often tied with fighting – fighting for relevance, fighting for rights, fighting for recognition.

To be a feminist and to believe in the beauty of being female doesn’t mean that you have to fight. On the contrary, when you look at being a woman from a Christian perspective, you’ll see that throughout God’s Word, women are celebrated. We are recognized as a completely unique creation.

Being a woman, from a Biblical perspective, means celebrating life, supporting each other, and standing up for what’s right. The Bible shares so many accounts of strong females (and the men that they raised); look through the histories of Ruth, Hannah, and Mary just to name a few examples. The qualities of the godly Christian woman are referenced throughout the Bible, and the qualities of the godly Christian woman can impact generations.

Loyalty.

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.” (Proverbs 31:11) The book of Ruth lays out an amazing example of loyalty. After her husband passed away, Ruth demonstrated her loyalty to her mother in law by not abandoning her. “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16). Being a woman, a godly Christian woman, means demonstrating loyalty and having a constant heart.

 

Focus.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) The godly Christian woman demonstrates a keen focus on the eternal rather than the external. Look at the testimony of Hannah, for example. While those around her were having children, Hannah was childless. Rather than bemoan and lament her circumstances, Hannah kept her focus on the Lord. Look through the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, and you’ll see these words several times, “and Hannah prayed.” A godly Christian woman keeps her focus on things above (Colossians 3:2).

 

Strength.

“She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.” (Proverbs 31:17) “Strength and honour are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25) Esther is an incredible Old Testament example of a woman who demonstrated strength. God used Esther to save His people. “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Even in the face of uncertainty, Esther stood strong. Strength, both intellectually and physically, is one of the qualities of a godly Christian woman.

 

Industriousness.

“She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.” (Proverbs 31:16) “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.” (Proverbs 31:24) Productivity. Ingenuity. Diligence. One of the qualities of a godly Christian woman is being industrious. Working at whatever you’re called to do. Look at Deborah, the only female judge who boldly obeyed God (Judges 4). Consider Rahab, who though she was a prostitute, ultimately came to know the Lord. Being a godly Christian woman requires industriousness and diligence in our work.

 

A nurturing spirit.

“She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.” (Proverbs 31:15) Not only is the godly Christian woman industrious, she also has a nurturing spirit and cares for her family. Take the account of Rebekah from Genesis 24. In the search for a bride for Isaac, Rebekah showed that she was the one because she had a nurturing spirit, and gave Isaac’s servant (and his camels) water to drink. Your work as a woman is important and makes an impact, whether your work is outside or inside the home.

 

Faithfulness.

“She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:27) Another one of the qualities of the godly Christian woman is her faithfulness. She stays the course. Even in the midst of challenging and trying times, she is diligent and sees things through. As it was said of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “blessed is she that believed” (Luke 1:45).

Originally published as “Being a woman.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 8, 2018: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

23

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Lessons from the honey bee

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No matter who you are, and no matter where you are, God can use you. | Lessons from the honey bee | See more at hopereflected.com

Lessons we can learn from the honey bee

Birds, bats, wind, and even water can act as pollinators, but perhaps the most interesting of all the pollinators is the honey bee. Such an intricate creation, the honey bee is small but mighty. The honey bee plays a very important role here on earth!

We can draw many parallels between honey bees and Christians. The honey bee spreads seeds; so do Christians. The honey bee has a mission; so do Christians. The honey bee doesn’t always see the results of what it sows; neither do Christians. Sometimes, only the Lord sees the harvest. We may never know the results of our labours. But does that mean that we should stop working for Him? No!

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Your words may be awkward. Your prayers may be meager. Your testimony may not be the most dramatic or exciting. No matter who you are, and no matter where you are, God can use you. In fact, sometimes it’s the most ordinary of people that God uses to do the most extraordinary things for His glory!

The honey bee isn’t concerned about whether it’s the strongest flyer, or whether it pollinates the most plants; no, the honey bee concentrates on the job at hand and remains focused. That’s how we need to be in our Christian walk. Keeping our focus always on the Lord.

There are other lessons we can learn from the small but mighty honey bee:

Learn how to adapt. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Just as the honey bee knows how to adapt – honey bees can go for years without hunting by living on their food reserves – we as Christians also need to learn how to adapt to what’s going on in the world around us. Read: I’m not saying we conform to this world, but rather that we “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Christians need to learn how to adapt and survive in a world where Christians are being held more and more accountable for what we believe.

Learn how to help others. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) Honey bees are social creatures. They don’t work alone. They help each other. What have you done to help another soul recently? Perhaps you’re working anonymously in the background, giving to causes that assist those in need. Maybe you dedicate your spare hours to volunteering. You could even be serving by encouraging the people in your community. As Christians, we are called to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Learn how to give your life for Christ’s glory. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35) Honey bees give their life for the hive. The honey bee, by nature, is a defender. And when one honey bee’s stinger detaches from its body, it releases pheromones that inspire other honey bees to do the same and go on defense. I’m not suggesting that Christians should always be on the defensive (but sometimes!), rather I’m suggesting that as Christians we should be completely surrendered to Christ, wherever we are. For some Christians, the idea of giving up your life is quite literal, depending where you live in world. For others, giving up your life for Christ could mean complete and total dedication to serving the Lord. The reality is that we’re all missionaries, right here at home, even if we’re not called to full-time service.

Learning to adapt, helping others, and finding your purpose are all things we can glean from the honey bee. I also love what Ilan Shamir says in his “Advice from a honey bee”: Create a buzz, sip life’s sweet moments, mind your own beeswax, work together, always find your way home, stick close to your honey, bee yourself! “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.” (Acts 2:28)

Originally published as “Lessons we can learn from the honey bee.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. December 14, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

16

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Understanding the characteristics of a solid church

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“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” A.W. Tozer | Characteristics of a solid church | See more at hopereflected.com

Understanding the characteristics of a solid church

After last week’s column, a few readers suggested that perhaps just as important as going to church is that the church that you’re going to needs to be a solid church.

So what makes a solid church?

There are several characteristics. A solid church is so much more than a bricks-and-mortar building. A solid church is about the people attending, and more than that, that the people attending are all joining together for the same purpose – to worship God, and to proclaim the Gospel, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead, so that we might not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

If you’ve been looking for a church, or contemplating what kind of church you should be attending, here are a few indications of a solid church.

A solid church speaks the truth. “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17) A solid church is one that believes that the Bible is the divinely inspired – and complete – Word of God. What is the truth? The Bible. A solid church speaks the truth. “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit.” (Proverbs 12:17) God’s Word is faithful and true (Revelation 22:6) and that’s what you’ll find in a solid church.

A solid church challenges and inspires growth. “…from who the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16) A solid church isn’t just a place where you go to feel good about yourself – no, a solid church is about much more than just “feeling”. Beyond any emotion, a solid church will challenge you through speaking the truth, and inspire growth.. “A wise man will hear and increase in learning. And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” (Proverbs 1:5) A solid church is place where Christians can seek “wise counsel” and grow in their faith. And as Matthew Henry said, “The Christian’s growth tends to the glory of Christ.”

A solid church provides comfort. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) A solid church is a place that provides comfort and renewal. As much as it’s meant to challenge Christians, the church is also meant to be a place where believers can have fellowship one with another. Through fellowship, and the preaching of God’s Word, we can find comfort and renewal. You may be familiar with Proverbs 16:24, which tells us that, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” A solid church provides comfort through fellowship with other Christians.

A solid church isn’t trying to look like the world, to remove the Cross, or to provide entertainment for the masses. As Tozer said, “Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” A solid church speaks the truth, challenges and inspires growth, and provides comfort. It also encourages Christians to serve humbly, to live by faith, and to grow closer to our Lord.

Originally published as “Understanding the characteristics of a solid church.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 30, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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