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My Testimony (and today is my 20th re-birthday!)

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God gave me a special present to celebrate my special day today. At the end of this post I will tell you what this very tangible gift is….

Twenty years ago, on December 2, 1990, my life changed….

I wasn’t looking for God because I always believed he existed; I just didn’t know Who He was. I thought I was going to Heaven because, yes, I was a good person. (Really! I thought that!) Even though I was a drug addict, sexually immoral, a thief and a liar (I sold stereo equipment out of the back of my car in the desert), I still thought I was good.

That was because I judged myself by my own standard of goodness.

One night while searching for witches’ covens in an open field at midnight, I challenged Satan to show himself.

He did.

I was also robbed at shotgun point by drug dealers (as a meth addict I didn’t have much discernment in friends).

I broke into a “friend’s” mobile home and stole some equipment in broad daylight.

I knocked on the apartment doors of strangers looking for a wife; I found a lost key and tried opening neighbor’s doors with it. The television spoke directly to me. Then I got a very clear vision that I was headed for Hell if I didn’t die….

Such was my life before Christ. But things changed twenty years ago when I understood that I needed a Savior.

Revelation 12:11 says: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”

Every evangelist—every Christian—has a testimony of what Christ has done in their life and should be able to articulate it in various lengths of time. I have a 30 second, 60 second, 5 minute, 10 minute, and 45 minute version.

MY TESTIMONY ON HOW I CAME TO FAITH

My story is quite a roller coaster ride and I’d like to share it with you. Over the summer I gave an updated version of my testimony of what Christ did in my life. (I previously shared it to our congregation seven years ago, before I was an evangelist.)

You can watch or listen to “A Wretch Like Me” MP3 or Quicktime. Click here and scroll down to August 15, 2010. (No permalink available.) Or you can read it by clicking here.

*****

Now, wanna know what gift God gave me?

Two weeks ago my daughter called into a radio show and won four tickets to see the band “Casting Crowns.” I generally don’t listen to Christian music but this is the only band I really like. Guess when we get to see them? Tonight. It didn’t dawn on me that the concert was on my 20th re-birthday until I woke up this morning.

Coincidence or GODincidence?

I choose the latter.

One of their best songs is called “Here I go Again,” a song about evangelism.  A youth group made a pretty decent music video of it. Click here to see it.

51 Comments

  1. Happy rebirthday! I hit my 23rd next spring….count me also as one who is ambivalent about modern Christian music, too.

    Now, Bach……..

  2. Okay, why and…honestly how does one search for witch covens? That’s such a weird non-sequitur in your story.

    I am, however, glad you managed to clean yourself up. Personally, I don’t drink nor partake in drugs. Does that make me a good person? Not really, but it certainly saves me money.

  3. Happy Rebirthday Pastor Steve!!! Great testimony! My rebirthday happened on November 6, 2002. Eight years walking with the Lord daily by His love and grace. Really blessed by that video Pastor Steve thank you and God bless you!!!

    -Thomas

  4. HreB2U, Magoo!

    I’m only 11 years old. No wonder I feel like a kid!
    Sure do appreciate you, brother! May God continue to bless and sanctify you to His pleasure and glory.

  5. That’s a pretty incredible story Steve, but I am very curious. When Satan revealed himself to you, what was he like? I mean was he all red and horned with goat feet? Or was he a presence? What did he sound like? I can understand why you personally needed a savior Steve because it sounds like you were up to some pretty nasty stuff way back then. I would propose that if you were on a variety of different drugs at the time, could it be possible you hallucinated some of these experiences? I mean people on hard drugs DO hallucinate or experience things that aren’t real.

  6. Steve – Well, Happy Belated Birthday, then. Congratulations on turning your life around.

    “Not really, but it certainly saves me money.”

    Saves wear-and-tear on relationships, too.

  7. Garrett, You’ll have to listen to my story to find out about how I searched for witches’ covens. You won’t be disappointed; it’s pretty exciting.

    Paul and Thomas, Thank youuuuu, my friends.

    Vinny, Satan was more of a presence than an actual physical manifestation. BTW, Scripture describes Satan as an angel of light. So he masquerades as someone with “new” teaching, or false teaching. In fact, those who deny that Jesus is the Christ are considered antichrists (1 John 2:22). GULP! Where does that put you?

    Now, was it possible that I was hallucinating? Well, sure, anything is possible, but in this case, I don’t believe so. That was what made it so amazing! There was a very real battle for my soul on that day. (Of course, I didn’t realize that until years later, as I started to understand the Bible.) Speed, btw, is not an hallucinogen.

    perdita, Thank you, but I give God all the credit for getting my life turned around. Whew!!!

  8. Hello Steve!
    Thanks much for sharing your story, it’s always a great blessing to see how God changes lives!
    I am reading your blog from St.Pete, Russia for a few months now and it’s very encouraging and funny too! Your Stop light preaching and Financial Aid tracts distribution videos are the best!
    You be faithful in ministry to your family, church and reaching out the lost!
    God bless you brother!
    Kostya

  9. I’m not familiar with drug culture and I stay away from that stuff Steve, and I’m not aware of all the drugs you were on at the time. Its great that you kicked the habit and turned towards God rather then drugs and crime, if I had to pick one over the other God wins out every time. As far as the Antichrist, it seems there’s been debate over how to interpret just what that is. Do you go by Revelations or by John? The thing that sort of throws me off about Jesus, or rather the way his authors chose to write about him, was what he was exactly.

    It was fiercely debated in the earlier Christian church, the gnostic gospels, and the canon gospels. Was Jesus; God made flesh? The Son of God? The Avatar of God? A mortal vessel for the spirit of God? Every sect had their own interpretation, and there is basis for argument. For instance if Jesus was God in the flesh then why does he talk to God many times in the Bible? If he was simply the Son of God then why was he able to wield God-like power, such as walking on water, resurrecting others and even himself from the dead? Or why in the Trinity is Jesus accepted as one of the three forms of God? Was he not his own person separate from God?

    As far as Satan goes Steve, I also fail to see his purpose in the Christian gospels. I understand his role in the Hebrew Bible, which interprets his role as being ‘the Accuser’ or Prosecutor who’s job it is to test the faith of those loyal to God to see if their faith is strong, but all the time he works FOR God and never rebels against God. The Satan of the Christian Bible rebels against God, is cast out of heaven, and rules over Hell. Why God would do this is beyond any form of logic? If God loves you and wants you to get into heaven, then why would he allow the Devil any power whatsoever? Why was the Devil allowed to infiltrate the Garden of Eden in Genesis? Is Satan more powerful then God? Every story needs a good villain and Satan makes an incredible villain, I mean his worshipers apparently get magical powers! He commands warlocks, witches, spirits, and demons, and he has the advantage that every human being is by default born into original sin, which means everyone who doesn’t know about Christ or God are, by default, destined to become on his tortured minions. He even has the added bonus that God hasn’t provided any testable evidence in his Creation of his existence or that the accounts of the Bible were historically or scientifically accurate. He has the power to affect God’s creation and to taint it, he got mankind to sin, and in the end of Days he’s going to reign over the Earth and kill billions of people all because God lets him. That’s one bad dude.

    But perhaps the important thing Steve you have to ask yourself is, if God is all powerful, he can do anything he wants to. Why did he not simply destroy Satan? In the Old Testament God doesn’t bat an eye when he wants to wipe out entire populations of people on Earth, so why in the world would he let a character as evil as Satan exist?

    • Great question, Vin. You may want to get those answers at a good apologetics site, like those listed on the side of my blog. It’s not that i can’t answer those questions (at least most or some of them), it’s just that I don’t have the time to do this. Please, look up this stuff for yourself and let me know what you find.

      BTW, John and Revelation were written by the same guy. Same theology, too.

  10. Garret, vintango2k, and perdita,

    This story was discussed last year also. You can read the comments and the story here:

    http://stonethepreacher.com/2009/12/02/things-change.html

    I encourage you to check it out.

    • Kostya,

      Thank you for commenting. Wow! From Russia? How cool is that? I’m glad I’m able to encourage you; you sure encouraged me!

      Nohm,

      Yep. This is another one of my annuals, except the testimony I posted there is from 7 years ago.

  11. BTW, John and Revelation were written by the same guy. Same theology, too.

    Well, that’s what is traditionally believed. Some biblical scholars disagree.

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Patmos:

    The author of the Book of Revelation is traditionally believed to be the same person as both John, the apostle of Jesus and John, the author of the Fourth Gospel. Justin Martyr, writing in the early 2nd century, was the first to equate the author of Revelation with John the Apostle. Some biblical scholars now contend that these were separate individuals.

    (Please check the sources)

  12. I might add, conservative scholarship attributes both of these books to John.

    You… might actually want to research it first, Steve.

    Just an idea.

    Well, unless “conservative scholars” are defined as “people who agree with the way I want things to be.” In which case, well, yes, you just defined that into being. Congratulations.

    And, just what is “conservative scholarship”? “Conservative” in what way?

    Wait… have you EVER researched this subject beyond someone telling you that it’s the same person? As you know, I often question the amount of research you put into something before you, Steve, give an opinion on that thing.

  13. Actually, here’s something for you to look up, Steve:

    Why is there disagreement among biblical scholars as to whether or not it’s the same John?

    Hint: It’s not because some scholars are “conservative” and others are “liberal”.

    And, as an extra question:

    Do you consider Francis Collins to be “conservative” or “liberal”.

    (If it isn’t obvious already, I’m unclear as to why you’re using those terms for biblical scholarship.)

  14. To clarify, I wasn’t implying that Francis Collins is a biblical scholar. I was just curious about your opinion of him.

    • I don’t know Francis Collins.

      In general, liberal theology discounts the miraculous in Scripture and allows that everyone goes to Heaven and that you can live any way you want. Conservative scholarship is opposite.

      EDIT: According to Wiki: “In his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Collins considers scientific discoveries an “opportunity to worship.” In his book Collins examines and subsequently rejects creationism and intelligent design. His own belief system is theistic evolution or evolutionary creation which he prefers to term BioLogos. Collins appeared in December 2006 on The Colbert Report television show[22] and in a March 2007 Fresh Air radio interview[23] to discuss this book.”

      I would put Collins in the liberal category. If he denies what is clearly said in Scripture at the beginning how in the world can he be calling himself evangelical and deny the truth of the Creation account.

      I see why you would like him.

      Thanks!

  15. I also find biblical apologetics interesting as well Steve, each one has their own opinion on what the Bible means, and often they can contradict one another to the point where one will denounce the other. I was reading a site the other day where the apologetic or perhaps he was simply just a webmaster was denouncing Ray Comfort’s view of the Bible and that of Lordship salvation as heretical.

    I would propose this Steve, that if the Bible were infallible truth, and the true inspired word of God, it would need absolutely no apologetics, no pastors, or preachers. It wouldn’t contradict what we know about reality, nature, science, and history and all of its claims would be testable, observable and accurate. Scientists, scholars, the faithful and unfaithful alike would STILL have to accept it as truth because nothing in science, nature, or history could contradict the accurate evidence presented within the text. But because of its bronze age authorship, we get a text that carries the bias of the culture of the time. We get a Bible that contains information on the proper treatment of slaves, a flat Earth, infanticide, and a great fish that can be lived in for several days.

    I would concede a point apologetics make that the authors of the Bible have a limited perspective and understanding about the ways of God and the world around them, but then on the other hand why in the world do people interpret the WORD FOR WORD truth of the gospel if the author’s views/understandings were either sub par or skewed when they wrote the passages. Case in point, the Book of Genesis.

    You don’t have to believe the Word for Word truth of the Bible, in fact most people who identify themselves as Christians in America (recent article I read pointed to some 54%) can’t answer basic questions about their own faith because they don’t know, and those that delve deeper into it discover passages that conflict deeply with our modern understanding of the way reality and nature works, or clash heavily with our modern sense of morality (Egyptian Infant murder anyone?) Most people tend to think of God as a loving parent, or they embrace the feeling that God will love them and forgive them of their sins if they believe in them, and they tend to ignore the concept of hell and damnation because, and this’ll pretty much round out my thoughts on the subject.

    God is not evil, and if our sense of morality is anything remotely close to his (or vice versa?), our trespasses against him or doubt in him will be forgiven. The idea of a God who is all knowing and capable of a love that is even greater than that of our parents, wouldn’t condemn anyone to a firey pit of despair, death, darkness and pain for an infinite amount of time if they stated that they loved us. Think about this, would your parents light you on fire to punish for your tresspasses against them? Does our JUSTICE system torture the convicted to the end of their natural lives? If someone in our society steals do we set their entire body ablaze or execute them, or do we punish them for a short time so that they can hopefully be rehabilitated or LEARN from their mistakes. But back to God; if he can forgive any sin a person has in life if they simply believe in him without physical evidence then when you meet him face to face and the truth becomes obvious would a loving God cast a doubter, perhaps a Jew or a Muslim that never harmed another human being into an eternal torture chamber? No. Because God is not evil, to cast ANYONE into a pit of eternal torture is an act that even the most wicked amongst humanity probably wouldn’t do, regardless if they deserved it or not. God is not Jigsaw from the Saw movies, he wouldn’t cast people into Hell and watch them writhe about in agony for eternity and we as human beings in heaven with God would be saddened if people we personally knew and loved were cast into that pit of horrors. Maybe a loved one, a best friend, or a family member you cared about deeply in life, perhaps they were your whole world, and because they followed another faith they were cast down into Hell and you got into Heaven, forever separated, would heaven be paradise for you? What if it were your child in hell? Its silly to believe in bibical dogma Steve, believe in GOD, live a good life, accept you’re imperfect, and help your fellow man. Stop telling people they’re going to burn in hell for whatever reason, from looking at an attractive person, to telling a white lie, or perhaps they’re just Jewish or homosexual, and stop speaking out about evolution, because its an argument you can’t really win.

  16. @ Nohm

    Ahhh the blasphemy challenge, a series where people who rail against the absolute faith people have in the absolute word or infallibility of God make an absolute statement of rejection against that God. If they were wiser I figure they’d say, ‘I doubt based on a lack of evidence’ rather then ‘I reject’. Usually people who deal in absolutes leave themselves wide open for looking foolish later.

  17. Who said I liked him?

  18. In general, liberal theology discounts the miraculous in Scripture and allows that everyone goes to Heaven and that you can live any way you want. Conservative scholarship is opposite.

    Wait… what relevance does that have to whether the Johns are the same person or different people?

    And I can think of many “liberal theology” Christians (in fact, the vast majority that I know) who would not only diagree with your description of them and their beliefs (e.g., they certainly don’t think that Hitler is in Heaven, and Hitler is certainly a part of “everyone”), but be offended at your distortion.

  19. “In general, liberal theology discounts the miraculous in Scripture and allows that everyone goes to Heaven and that you can live any way you want. Conservative scholarship is opposite.”

    For a moment, let’s use your definition. Does saying that John and Revelations have two different authors deny the miraculous? Especially since you believe both (if we assume two) were inspired by the same God?

    Would two different Johns impact your faith at all and why?

    Just a reminder – It’s great that Steve answers questions, but it would be nice to hear other voices, too!

  20. Vin: Thank you for your wall o’ text. I’m quite clear on what you believe. Thank you, no; I will continue to preach what the Word of God says, in season and out.

    Nohm, I assumed you like him, since you referenced him and since he subscribes somewhat to your evolutionary perspective.

    And no, it wouldn’t really matter if their were two Johns. I just used this as an opportunity to remind everyone again that there is only one way to be saved.

    Of course some liberals would disagree, that’s why I qualified my comment by using the word “generally.”

    perdita: I, too, would love to read other comments. Don’t know why there aren’t more. I think the unbelievers here intimidate or frustrate them, or they don’t read the comments at all. According to the stats, I get over a 1,000 visitors a week. Eliminate the spam, and the search engines and that still leaves a few hundred who check in. Don’t know why there aren’t more comments.

    For the record, it’s the book of Revelation. No “S”. It’s the revelation of John. Also, don’t ever say the book of Eccliastics. It’s Ecclesiastes.

    Glad to get that off my chest.

  21. Sorry about the length, its just hard to stop writing when your brain is on fire, I try and remain open minded and non-judgemental but occasionally I suppose I can preach as well. I guess I’ll start flaming this board and dropping F-bombs at this rate. =)

    I’ll try not to bombard the board with so many open ended questions in the future, I know they can be difficult to answer (If the answers are even capable for a person to address satisfactorily in the first place). I guess after enough posts you’re clear on what I believe for the most part, I’m curious about how you interpret it. Do any of the points I try and bring up, provoke any thought? Would you consider reading any books on physics or biology that deal with the origins of existence and life?

  22. Hey vintango2k interesting post (the large post). Where do you get your information from? Just curious. God bless!

  23. “If he denies what is clearly said in Scripture at the beginning how in the world can he be calling himself evangelical and deny the truth of the Creation account.”

    And there’s the rub. It isn’t clear. Other Christians see that Genesis is a creation story rather than a creation account. (i.e., the slacktivist on Nov 24.)

    To me, it seems we keep going back to authority vs. evidence. For me, evidence trumps authority. For Steve, authority trumps evidence.

  24. Well I listened to the whole spiel. It’s interesting to hear your history, but there’s nothing here to help your case. Seems like you simply wanted to believe in a higher power to motivate yourself to get on the straight-and-narrow. That’s better than having you OD alone and penniless, of course, but it’d be nice to see you outgrow your dependency on belief in the supernatural.

  25. From one extreme (drugs,stealing,violence…etc.) to another extreme.(out loud preaching,devoting life to religion,telling people they are burning in Hell)
    Some people just need extremes in life to survive and feel good about themselves i guess. I try and stay away from both extremes, definantly the second one though….i wouldnt want to get a false sense of security.

  26. Vintango2k wrote:

    Usually people who deal in absolutes leave themselves wide open for looking foolish later.

    I could not agree more.

  27. @ Thomas

    A variety of sources, which is probably the best way of gaining a good perspective on things. New York Times and Yahoo news have both conducted surveys on the amount of Americans who don’t know about their own religion or assume things that aren’t supported by it. These surveys pop up from time to time by a variety of different news outlets and they’re always a fascinating read. The BBC also turns out several good exposes, mini series, and documentaries from time to time. The Lost Gospels is a pretty interesting one in that they look at a few of the recovered gospels dating back to the formative years of the Christian faith.

    Another 3 part doc I’d recommend from the BBC is called Atom, which breaks down atomic science from its innocent beginnings to the modern age, in a way that is easy to understand. (No vast scientific conspiracy is mentioned when it comes to Big Bang Theory). There are a variety of scientific v. creationist or atheist v. religious debates on Youtube though they’re usually very cut and dry. Recently in Plano (And I’m kicking myself for not trying to attend this) there was a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Brian Demsky over the ‘Goodness of God’, and its available to watch on Youtube (though broken up into 10 parts) if you’re curious about watching an ID proponent argue against an atheist, and try and defend the ‘goodness’ of the God of the old testament.

    If you want to understand the atheist perspective instead of making assumptions about it, Dawkins has wrote extensively about it, or if you prefer, he’s done a mini series on the subject where he examines a few different religions and why thinks the way he does about each of them and their beliefs. (The series was called Root of All Evil, if I recall correctly) I’m not advocating atheism but in order to understand why different people think the way they do learning more about them, instead of sticking with broad assumptions, is usually the best way to do. Its one the reasons I come to this site, I want to understand YEC better, its also my sincere hope that some of you will learn more about science and different religions/cultures.

  28. Yes, because the word ‘usually’ connotes an absolute.

  29. Steve wrote: “Is that an absolute statement?

    Hi Steve. I encourage you to closely read the sentence again:

    Usually people who deal in absolutes leave themselves wide open for looking foolish later.

    (Emphasis mine)

  30. No, he said “usually.”

    C’mon Steve, read the comment in full.

  31. Steve wrote: “In general, liberal theology discounts the miraculous in Scripture and allows that everyone goes to Heaven and that you can live any way you want. Conservative scholarship is opposite.

    So, something my girlfriend pointed out to me is this: if “Conservative scholarship is opposite”, then that means that you, Steve, are claiming that “Conservative scholarship” allows that nobody goes to Heaven and that you can live either in no way that you want or in any way that you don’t want, depending on how you see the opposite of “you can live any way you want”.

    And… I doubt you’d agree that’s “Conservative scholarship”.

    I propose that the terms “conservative” and “liberal” scholarship don’t really apply here, and are secret terms for “theology Steve agrees with” (conservative) and “theology Steve does not agree with” (liberal).

  32. They’re demons now?

    I didn’t realize Francis Collins had such connections!

  33. Hi Steve,

    How do you, Steve, determine whether a hermeneutic is “liberal” or “conservative”?

    Please detail the steps.

    • This seems like a pretty good definition, Nohm, probably written by a liberal at Wiki. (Can you guess why I’d think that based on what he wrote?)

      Also, I like this Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy which affirms what I believe:

      WE AFFIRM the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to its literal, or normal, sense. The literal sense is the grammatical-historical sense, that is, the meaning which the writer expressed. Interpretation according to the literal sense will take account of all figures of speech and literary forms found in the text. WE DENY the legitimacy of any approach to Scripture that attributes to it meaning which the literal sense does not support.

      I hope this is helpful.

  34. Vintango2k wrote:

    a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Brian Demsky

    Actually, his name is William Dembski.

  35. Well, but here’s the main problem with all of that:

    I would bet that you’ve never read the Bible in its original language(s). So, how can you even begin to try to figure out the “grammatical-historical sense”, given that you don’t know what the original grammar even IS?

    How can you interpret the figures of speech and literary forms, when you’re dealing with an English translation, that was translated from a previous language, that was translated from a previous language, and so on?

    How can you determine what the “literal sense”, or “the meaning which the writer expressed” even is if you’ve never read it in the writer’s language?

    Look at any compilation of “Engrish” signs and such online and you’ll see what I mean. Do you think that’s “the meaning which the writer expressed”?

    That’s what confuses me about all of this, and I think it comes back to “literal” == “what you want it to mean”, otherwise we wouldn’t have the thousands of schisms that we already have.

    Also, that brings in the problem with what you call “the Genesis account of creation”, which by all accounts of “grammatical-historical” analysis is poetry, and not an “account”. It certainly wasn’t written by an eyewitness, and it certainly wasn’t written by God (since He is a character in the poem)… so… what’s up with that?

  36. Excellent, Steve. You think the Bible is literal. Good for you.

    So you have no problem telling me if the Bible confirms either Arminianism or Calvinism, right? Clearly we cannot have both, so one has to be wrong. And that has to be the inerrant word of God.

    So, what is it? Earlier you told me it’s up to interpretation. A very liberal stance for you, so that must be a mistake.

  37. @Nohm

    Thanks for the correction. I’ve seen him on a few creationist video clips repeating the same things he addressed in the debate, arguing for Common types rather then common ancestry when it comes to evolution, basically adopting a position held by Richard Owen over a hundred years ago. (One that was disproved at the time, hence why the lion’s share of biologists accept the theory of evolution) Dembski struck me as uncomfortable and nervous during the debate, probably because he was stuck having to defend the atrocities of the Bible to an audience of children, and two Hitchens is a skilled orator who uses logic and even an appeal to emotion to get people to see beyond Biblical dogma. I am a little disappointed though that Hitchens never asked Dembski why he refused to testify in the Dover trial in favor of Intelligent Design, when a victory in court could have allowed Creationism to be taught in schools.

  38. Something I was just thinking:

    For all of their talk about taking and reading the Bible literally, it appears to me that “conservative” religious people, when talking about religious matters (as we see above with Steve’s use of the word “opposite”), are about as non-literal as you can get.

    Just something I find interesting and fascinating.

    Any opinion on why that seems to be the case, Steve?

  39. Vintango2k wrote:

    I am a little disappointed though that Hitchens never asked Dembski why he refused to testify in the Dover trial in favor of Intelligent Design, when a victory in court could have allowed Creationism to be taught in schools.

    Heh.

    Well, two things:

    1. Are *you* aware as to why Dembski didn’t testify?

    2. Of course, it would not have allowed “Creationism” to be taught in schools, because the Dover trial was about “Intelligent Design”, which the defendants claimed had NOTHING to do with creationism or religion. Nope, not one bit. Ixnay on the eligionray, right?

    LOL at that. 🙂

  40. Thank you vintango2k for your post! God bless!!!

  41. steve,
    if i could just take a moment to interrupt this dialogue. sorry, for this belated post but i wanted to stop by and wish you an ETERNITY of well wishes for all the indefinite re-birthdays to come! : D

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