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is the church relevant

Is the Church Relevant?

Our faith is under fire like never before. In our postmodern world, in a spirit of neo-orthodoxy, we must intentionally display a clear message. With every institution under scrutiny, a popular question today is, “Is the church relevant?”

The answer lies in how you define “relevant.” In our secular age, we have seen many words “reinvented” to display a totally different meaning to fit culture and convenience. Looking at the church it may not be an obvious choice for trailblazing, but it is the life of Christ in the church that will shape our lives.

The church was not meant to compete with the world, but to rescue people from it. This idea of a “tailored-made church” drives a lot of churchgoers today. People often know what they want but don’t know what they truly need. The church should be creative but not at the expense of replacing the message. Marketing and gimmicks draw in people, but what will cause them to stay in the church? Entertainment may draw curiosity and interest, but in honoring the Holy Spirit and preaching the Word of Life, lives are transformed.

What is the Church?

Traditionalism is on the rise with a lot of young churchgoers today. History and formality give a sense of stability and trust, but is the message pointing to a living Christ? The original purpose the church is defined as “called out ones to Christ.” The name clearly shows us that the greatest purpose in the church is to help cultivate a relationship with God and share it with a lost world. The church is defined in 1 Timothy 3:15: “…which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” If we use it for any other purpose it can become obsolete and irrelevant. The church is the revelation of Jesus on the earth. It is a place where imperfect people gather around a perfect Christ.

Understood in this way, the relevancy of the church is timeless.

The book of Acts shows us the New Testament church in Acts 2:41-47. We see the example, attitude, and mission of the church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had a need. Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

The new testament church is more than an organization it is a living organism. It is alive and delicate. If only thought of as a business, then the work will crystallize and the glory of God departs. People are the most precious part of Gods church; this is why our message and approach must care for their souls. As we cherish God’s house as a house of prayer and honor His presence, miracles happen.

The church is a work of God, not a work of men.

Three Types of Church-Goers

In this impressionist age, we have a unique opportunity as the church to speak into lives with meaning and purpose. Jesus was the master example of this. He lived the same way He died—with His arms wide open. As the church, we must seek to understand rather than to be understood. Reliability and relevance are seen in genuine care and in a non-judgmental approach. We see this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. The apostle Paul writes “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”  We are the hands and feet of Christ ministering patiently through the many layers of the human soul. The church is a place of compassion, empathy and transformation.

The multiple impressions and decisions made as a guest walk through our doors are staggering. The genuine and transparent interest and love portrayed speaks volumes. Learning their story and helping them connect to Christ’s life is the privilege of our mission. Their perception and concepts are dissolved as authentic love and truth are shown; they sense they are welcome and accepted. They are loved in their place like family. Our relevant and personal message speaks to their heart and answers questions maybe they didn’t even know they had. This divine initiation causes new thoughts and interests to emerge. As growth begins, they progressively discover their eternal purpose and value. We must resist the tendency to be like “the world”; to woo the lost through our doors. People are looking for more than entertainment or to be amazed by some show—they are looking for real life, love and answers. The impact of a meaningful encounter with God is revolutionary. Let’s invite, love and mentor those that are willing.

The Consumer

There is no perfect church. Often people hunt to find the best fit. Choosing a church like we would be choosing a car, based on preferences and how we feel when we are there is subjective and often misleading. Eventually, people get offended and migrate from place to place. If we take and consume things based on our wants and needs only, then we are stunting our potential growth. Growing in the church happens as we are submitted to the teachings and grow in obedience. This takes time and consistency to learn to bloom where we are planted.

Today, a popular concept prevails that Robert Bellah calls “expressive individualism — the belief that identity comes through self-expression, through discovering one’s most authentic desires and being free to be one’s authentic self. This powerful belief has weakened all institutions in society.” This sounds good at first, but—in the absolute sense—it is flawed thinking. If it is all about what I need, think and want, we are just consumers; we take what we need without regard to the needs of others.

The Hitchhiker

We can also be “hitchhikers”, selective and noncommittal, always moving around without real roots anywhere. The church is meant to be a generous lifeline that connects us to the life of Jesus.

Spiritual hitchhikers are like nomads, migrating from place to place without roots. It is easy to have this happen when we are not accountable. The average Christian has three different churches that they “dip into” for their spiritual walk. Thank God for technology and resources but who is personally speaking into our lives? Who is correcting us? What do we do when we hear a hard saying? How we answer these questions determines whether we are hitchhikers or not.

Will we “hit the road” or settle in and seek the Lord?

The Contributor

Everything in my life is affected by my walk of faith, family, career, and relationships can be rooted in me or in someone that is eternal. As we build our relationship with Jesus Christ we sense Him actively increasing in our everyday lives. His scarlet thread of redemption is through the center of life. We can be a monument of culture or trophies of God’s grace, both pointing to a very different entity. Culture is fickle, but God’s grace is never changing, it is the same yesterday today and forever.

The Problem

When we bend to culture and move away from reliance on the Holy Spirit, we lose something—our impact and witness. In today’s post-modernistic world, we see humanism which deifies man and underestimates God. Coupled with relativism which declares a personal interpretation to justify a lifestyle. This in turn births secularism, redefining terms to usurp absolutes and promote tolerance. How has this impacted the Church? The Emerging Church is born and an ecumenical gospel—without the cross and sound Bible doctrine—is preached. Through this progression, the unbeliever is desensitized to the things of God or in most cases doesn’t learn a clear picture of who God is and ultimately doesn’t see their need for Him.

Guarding the church against worldly ideologies is important in preserving the future of the church. One popular foundation is liberalism; me at the center. This system of thinking impacts churches were my rights and liberties dominate the understanding of privilege and responsibility. We are not to hide from the world, secure in our four walls, but our message and heart of love must be clear and powerful as we go forth into the world.

Here are some recognizable systems of thinking:

  • The end and means focus on securing happiness.
  • Egoism exalts the body over the soul.
  • Liberalism exalts the temporal value system over the spiritual unseen reality.
  • Hedonism promotes subjective belief that the goal is fitting the Bible into your life rather than surrendering to the Bible.
  • Pop-culture rallies herd mentality, this mocks the outspoken convictions and quiets the person, so they “don’t rock the boat.”
  • Personal expression rules over proven principals at the expense of logic.
  • Secularism redefines terms for tolerance and dismisses absolutes.

In contrast, the message of Jesus is life-giving. This message is one of a personal cross, where Christ at the center of my life, as in Colossians 2:13-15.

  • Sacrificing self-preference produces contentment.
  • We are not our own, we live for another who is infinitely greater.
  • Ultimately standing before a Jesus defines our decisions in time.
  • Christ is at the center of our priorities not sacrificing the eternal on the altar of the immediate.
  • Speaking the Truth in love without legalism.
  • No overestimation of self-importance, we are not the ultimate issue.
  • Hold-fast the Word of Life, our eternal purpose—we are God’s billboard.

Our Mission

You are important in the Kingdom of God. Your portion is part of every joint that supplies a healthy spiritual body in Ephesians 4:16. The church is a hospital, not a country club. It is designed to be a mission center for mobilizing the believer to be trained and sent out to serve, love and heal. Kindness is a powerful weapon that helps open the heart of the recipient and is a “tangible” demonstration of the love of Christ.

Our world is lost. Jesus is the Light that shines to those who sit in darkness in Luke 1:79. In the gospels, we see in Matthew 5:13-14, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

People are drawn to the light and life of Jesus. Religion kills and complicates the pure simple message of Jesus. Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of our faith—this is the glorious gospel. A dear pastor shared with me words I will always remember: “Our message of Jesus is our ultimate method.”

Preaching the heart of Jesus as an open hand and not a clenched fist, will draw all men. (John 12:32)

Our mission affords us to be gatherers and educators of Jesus. Complications and pain arise as we make our mission about ourselves. We must not gather around personalities or a “celebrity Christianity” but around an old rugged cross where we die and Christ reigns. The psalmist in 115:1, “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

The mission of Christ is powerful. The first letter in mission could stand for “momentum”—the inertia of an object that is catching speed as it moves. As the object moves, the velocity increases determining its ultimate distance. In missions, it is all about being moved in the Spirit. As we discover the “go” in the gospel, momentum begins to happen. Step by step, word by word, God gives the increase. Here is where the mission of the church is found in scripture: Joshua 1:3-6, Deuteronomy 28:13, Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 19:10, John 7:38 Acts 4:12. Here are the nuts and bolts of our mission:

  • PREACH a clear message of salvation.
  • TEACH to equip ministers of life in marriage, family, and neighborhoods.
  • REACH hands to the needy.
  • SERVE our communities by being the hands and feet of Christ.
  • CULTIVATE discipleship, mentorship and accountability in our walk of faith.
  • SHARE our faith, going into all the world.

We are on this earth not to be like the world but represent the kingdom of God. One day soon we will stand before Him. Are you prepared? We are either impacting the world or we are being impacted by the world. To be in the world not of the world is our mission.

How do you see the church? Is it your lifeline? or is it something we could be critical of and have a “take it or leave it” attitude. The church is a gift and a secret in today’s cynical world. “Where two or more are gathered I am in your midst” in Matthew 18:20. We must all realize that the church is full of imperfect people gathering around a perfect Christ. Celebrate the life of Christ, celebrate other believers and be part of a church community where you grow and make an impact for eternity.


www.jasonfmoore.com

 

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potter and clay

Creation Identity vs Creator Identity

This message was originally written for an intra-church outreach campaign focused around an outdoor music festival called “Common Ground”. This talk was first delivered to a small team of local evangelists who met at Maranatha Church for messages, prayer and announcements prior to beginning their work at the festival. The talk speaks to personal concerns held by the evangelists, who—over the course of the outreach—had expressed challenges they were experiencing in their own lives.

Early in my career as a web designer and Internet marketer, I took a lot of pride and identity from my work. In fact, I took so much identity from my work that when I would experience trouble with a client, it would wreck me emotionally. It took me years on an emotional roller-coaster before I learned that not all clients are a fit. For every 10 to 12 jobs I took over the course of a year, one always seemed to implode. Of course, I always tried my best to salvage any project, but sometimes things just took a turn. This was a bitter pill until I learned to not glean so much of my personal identity from my work. I also learned to communicate more and to be more selective about both my clients and the contractors I hired.

Where Do We Get Our Sense of Self?

Our identity comes from one of two places: either from the world or from God. Another way to put it: our identity comes from either the creation or our Creator. Seeing as the things of this world are temporary (family, friends, culture, media, etc.,) it’s obviously best to claim our identity from our infinite God, in whose image we were created. Still, where does this broken sense of world-driven identity come from?

Genesis 3:6-10

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Good for food to whom? Pleasant to whose eyes? To make who wise? Adam and Eve decide against God’s will for them, and in choosing their own path, humanity falls into sin. Don’t think for a second your or I would have done any better. Adam and Eve walked with God, among His glorious, untarnished creation, and still, humanity fell within the first generation of a single family. The probability for this error would only be higher had there been more than two people in the beginning. This should show us something about ourselves and the nature of free will. Even a third of the host of heaven fell through free will. The problem isn’t with free will, but with what we do with it.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Self-consciousness leads to self-protection; self-preservation.

9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Of course, God knows where they are, just as He knew what they would do. God calls us to conviction, confession and repentance, as modeled first here.

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Self-centered desire leads to self-consciousness, self-focus.

Matthew 24:37-39

37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Self-indulgence and self-preoccupation.

More Examples of Self-Seeking

In Genesis 20, Abraham lies about being married to Sarah so he is not killed.

Self-preservation. Self-protection.

In 2 Samuel 11, David takes Bathsheba for his own and sends her husband into battle and certain death.

Self-gratification.

The kings of Israel and Judah were primarily self-seeking and self-motivated.

Even the great prophets often sought to save their own skins. Moses, Gideon, Saul, Jonah and Jeremiah are just some examples of great men of God who were reluctant to step out for God. Consider Moses’ reluctance in accepting God’s mission for him to return to Egypt and demand the release of the Israelites:

Exodus 3:11

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Exodus 4:1

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.

Exodus 4:10

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

Exodus 4:13

And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

NKJV

But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

Here we see Moses—considered to be one of the greatest men of God of all time—arguing with the Infinite Creator of the Universe, desperately hoping to place his will before the Father’s. The same Moses who later leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and parts the Red Sea is nervously trying to talk his way out of his God-given mission.

In contrast, we have Jesus’ example. In self-less, self-sacrifice, He died to self and took on the will of the Father.

John 5:30

30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Called to Be Light

For me, this Common Ground mission pulls me out of self. It’s not always comfortable to hand out tracts and receive rejection after rejection. Self-confidence—if that’s what we’re running upon—takes a hit after so much rejection, but love and obedience perseveres.

Fortunately, we don’t rely upon our own self-confidence. We seek to die to self, move in the Spirit and be of Kingdom service. The mission is larger than the self.

Matthew 5:15 / Luke 8:16 / Luke 11:33

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Our challenge is not only for a few nights here at Common Ground. Our mission field is in the living rooms, in the offices, on our social media channels.

When circumstances and people become uncomfortable, do we shrink away in self-preservation and self-consciousness?

Or do we die to self and stand upon the rock in the storm, in love and patience and confidence—confidence not in ourselves and our own abilities, but in our Lord?

Even at the end of the night, when we may be wondering if our time invested will bear any fruit in the people we’ve touched, we must put aside any notions of self-worth and leave the expansion of our efforts to the Holy Spirit.

Don’t Expect to Be Enough

1 Corinthians 4:10-14

10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

Paul’s words to the prideful church of Corinth act as a reminder. Even to say we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, not old enough, not young enough, not eloquent enough; these things are still pride. Self-consciousness. Self-focus. Self-loathing. Self-preservation. Through it all, our attention is to remain on Him.

Our Prayer

Father, we humble ourselves as servants and we step forward in love and faith and belief to minister to God’s children, believers and non-believers alike, under the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. Father, we recognize if we’re fearful and focused upon ourselves or our circumstances, we’ve taken our eyes off you and placed them upon the storm, and—like Peter—we’ll begin to sink into dark waters. So, Holy Spirit, walk with us as we commit to keeping our eyes upon you. We want only you.

I pray this, in the holy name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Teachers Are Our All-Stars

Where have all the teachers gone? All across the United States, the number of people interested in taking on the teaching profession has been on the decline. The state of California has been hit worst, seeing a 53 percent drop in teachers since 2008.

Absolutely share this video, folks. Why are our teachers not paid more like medical professionals? Teachers are our all-stars; not folks chasing balls across a field (sorry, athletes.. your physical prowess is great, but raising up young minds and hearts is better.) Matt

Posted by Matt Schoenherr on Friday, September 4, 2015

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employee rewards

A Carrot A Day – A dose of recognition for your employees

© By Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

The Million-Dollar Question

Is it ever too early to begin thanking your employees? Of course not. In fact, we recommend to start during the interview process.

When you are hiring a new employee, ask the person to share her most memorable work-related recognition moment-when she was honored for above-and-beyond behavior. Not only is this a great way to uncover an applicant’s strengths, but also can give you an idea of what types of rewards will be valued by this person in the future. Ask what she did to earn the reward, what she received and how it made her feel.

(Sorry, but if the potential employee says something odd, such as receiving a jug of moonshine for winning the Miss Burley, Idaho, pageant, we couldn’t begin to tell you what you do with that information.)

Next, use recognition soon after the employees starts on the job to buoy morale. Most people, after all, begin a job with a desire to succeed and achieve. Just consider the jobs you’ve had in the past. Remember your first days. Did you ever begin one of these new positions by trying to find ways to cut corners or shirk your responsibility? Of course not. Almost everyone who starts a job is pumped, hoping this will be the company to (finally) meet their needs.

But the first 90 days are critical. If the job doesn’t meet an employee’s personal needs in the first three months, morale declines sharply.

Great managers know that it’s much easier to keep motivation alive and build on it than to let it die and then try to revive it. So they determine early in a person’s employment what motivates that individual—and provide the type of recognition that person craves.

And we’ve found that one of the most effective ways to find out what motivates an employee is to … ask. We recommend meeting privately with new employees during their first weeks. You may wish to begin the discussion by saying something like, “Since you are going to be a vital part of our team, I want to be able to express my appreciation for your extra efforts. When it’s your time to be recognized, I want to provide it in the style you like best.”

Then ask a few questions such as:

What type of celebration do you prefer?

  • Private … a sincere thank you without a lot of attention from co-workers, maybe over a lunch
  • Informal … recognition from my manager at a staff meeting in front of peers
  • Formal … an award celebration with co-workers and guests

What recognition gifts do you like?

(Here are a few examples to spark the conversation)

  • Dinner for two
  • Attending a training class or seminar
  • Spa gift certificate
  • Music CDs or tapes
  • Book by favorite author
  • Tickets to a ball game
  • Tickets to the theatre, ballet, symphony
  • Opportunity to work on a high-profile project
  • Time off
  • Other: _____________________

These are just a couple of the questions we recommend (for a complete list pick up The Invisible Employee.) And of course, this meeting is just the beginning. Getting to know employees requires consistent, daily interaction. But this simple interview gives you a head start. The interview itself is a form of recognition of an employee’s potential. And the knowledge you glean will allow you to follow up with appropriate recognition during the very first months of employment.

So, remember—when in doubt—go ahead and ask. It could be worth millions in productivity.

Today’s Carrot A Day: Rewards While You Are Gone

When you travel, there are most likely people who fill in for you. One supervisor we talked with at a manufacturing company found a way to thank his only employee when he was on the road.

“I had a staff of six a few years ago. Now, since we are all doing more with less, there are only two of us left. So, it’s more important than ever to recognize,” he said. “With my employee, I understand her as an individual. For example, a simple thing, but she loves chocolate chip cookies.”

So when the supervisor went on a week-long business trip, he left her $5 and a note. The cash—the note explained—was to buy a fresh-baked cookie from the cafeteria each day as a thank you. Said the manager, “She’s stuck in the office, picking up the slack, while I’m traveling, so I want to make sure that every day some recognition is happening.”


 

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton are the acclaimed authors of the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek best seller “A Carrot A Day.” Their new book, “The Invisible Employee,” can be ordered on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com today. To learn more go to carrots.com.

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you are the body

But You ARE Corporate America

The following was part of a recent discussion around compensation and motives shared by corporations in today’s global economy.

“…even when companies provide compensation in the form of diners and luncheons, I believe we all must keep in mind the number one goal of any business it to make money. To be brutally honest, the entire point of compensation is to keep the employee satisfied so that they provide a good service for the company to what? …….to make the company more money. In essence, you can say the business is feeding the horses for the sole purpose to work them; not because they are hungry.”

Right, the company’s ultimate goal is to remain profitable and to grow. This is a goal that needs to walk hand-in-hand with the company’s other goal (hopefully there is another goal): to serve others. A company should exist to make life better for others. Period. If a company doesn’t make life better for others, it’s hurting others.

Yes, a company hopes to inspire its employees to heights of wonderful production. True. But I think good companies aim to inspire other things in their employees, such as loyalty, devotion, creativity, motivation, well-being and happiness. Yes, there is an element of self-interest in any organization; there has to be. Without an attachment to its own survival, it would be that much easier for that company to falter and die; at which point, its employees would be out of their jobs!

If you consider your own body to be an organization of cells, split into teams (organs, muscles, bones, etc.), don’t you have a self-interest in how things operate within your own “company”? Don’t we tend to pay minimal attention to our different parts until something creates pain? Then we seek to correct the pain as quickly as possible, right? Don’t we try all sorts of things to try to eek more performance out of our bodies? (Well, some of us do.)

I offer that companies are merely extensions of the human experience, so it’s only natural that they should take on human characteristics such as self-interest, greed, dysfunction, altruism, inspiration, pride and generosity.

Thoughts?
Matt

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what is leadership

What is Leadership?

A definition of leadership includes social influence, maximizing the efforts of others, and the achievement of a goal

Recently Kevin Kruse ruminated on the definition of leadership in the pages of Forbes Magazine. First he listed all the things that leadership is not.

Kruse says leadership has nothing to do with seniority or one’s position in the organization. It certainly has nothing to do with titles. Oddly, leadership has nothing to do with the personality of the leader, though certainly some of the most famous leaders in history have had outsized and extroverted personalities. But there are many styles of leadership that doesn’t rely on those kinds of personal attributes. Finally it has nothing to do with management. Mangers manage organizations. Leaders lead people.

So what is the definition of leadership? Kruse states that

“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”

The Business Dictionary defines social influence as how “the actions, reactions, and thoughts of an individual are influenced by other people or groups.” In the context of leadership, it means persuading people to perform as part of a group toward a common goal. The process has nothing to do with power or authority.

Kruse is also careful to use the word “maximizes” rather than “organizes” in his definition. By “maximizes”, he means persuading people to perform above and beyond their previous tendencies toward the common goal.

The aspect of a goal–commonly accepted and clearly understood–is crucial. A leader must know what the goal is and the definition of achieving that goal and communicate that definition to the people he or she is leading.

For more information contact us.

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