Podcast: The right way to Learn the Bible Each Day in 2020 (David Mathis)

This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast sequence.

New Yr, New Habits

On this episode, David Mathis, creator of Habits of Grace: Having fun with Jesus via the Religious Disciplines, discusses how anybody could make Bible studying a behavior in 2020. He displays on the professionals and cons of New Yr’s resolutions, shares why he prefers the time period habits of grace reasonably than non secular disciplines, and gives sensible recommendation on making a plan to learn the Bible daily.

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David Mathis

This ebook explores how Bible studying, prayer, and fellowship with different Christiansthree foundational habits of gracehave the facility to awaken our souls to Gods glory and stir our hearts for joyful service.

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Full Transcript

01:23 – Welcome

Matt Tully
David, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at present on The Crossway Podcast.

David Mathis
Thanks, Matt. Good to be right here.

01:29 – New Years Resolutions

Matt Tully
So the brand new yr is simply across the nook and our listeners is likely to be considering some New Years resolutions. Many people begin to assume forward this time of yr. We’re assessing our personal lives, assessing issues that we wish to change about our lives, issues that really feel like theyre not fairly the place we wish them to be. I do know that a variety of Christians have completely different views on the worth of New Years resolutions. Are you planning to make any resolutions for 2020?

David Mathis
Sure, I’ll. And a few of it’s as a result of I really like seasons. I really like Christmas, and New Years, and St. Patricks Day, and Moms Day, and Fathers Day, and Easter, and the Fourth of July, and shifting via the calendar of the yr. We now have 4 distinct seasons right here in Minnesota, which I really like.

One issue associated to resolutions is that I dont really feel a biblical or non secular mandate to make them, and I dont see something biblically that will forestall us from making them. The truth is, in 2 Thessalonians 1:11, Paul prays for the Thessalonians that God could make them worthy of his calling and fulfill each resolve for good in each work of religion by his energy. So there’s a biblical blessing on the Thessalonians resolving to do one thing good and Paul praying that God would bless their each resolve for good. After I make New Years resolutions, I do them within the spirit of two Thessalonians 1:11. I pray that it will be a resolve for good that will be produced by a born-again coronary heart, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and fashioned by Gods phrase, and that it will have the tip of glorifying God and serving others via love and satisfying my soul in him. Thats the sort of framework I’d placed on non secular resolutions for the New Yr that I believe could be useful.

03:31 – Resolutions and Religious Targets

Matt Tully
I believe many people really feel a sort of rigidity relating to resolutions, whether or not non secular or in any other case. Specifically, that it may possibly generally really feel like theres a option to be made between counting on God and his grace and his energy, particularly relating to a few of these non secular targets that we’d have, versus merely working onerous in our personal energy to satisfy these targets. So tease that out for us. How do you concentrate on these two sides of this problem?

David Mathis
Take into account just a few passages of Scripture. Take into consideration Philippians 2:1213, the place Paul says, Work out your salvation with concern and trembling for it’s God who’s at work in you to will and to do for his good pleasure. So thats the framework with which I wish to strategy the Christian life. God provides us the dignity of collaborating within the strategy of our sanctification and progress. We aren’t passive in it. He works in us by his Spirit; he meets us externally via the phrase learn, preached, and heard; via fellowship and thru the church. And so God provides us his nice grace of collaborating within the course of. He means for us to work out our salvation, to be engaged, to expend effort, to make exertions of the need and thoughts and coronary heart, and to know that we aren’t the decisive ones who’re bringing about something of non secular and lasting significance. God is the one who’s at work in us by the facility of his Spirit to will and to work for his good pleasure.

One other textual content that captures the dynamic of our workingbut our working not being decisive and supreme, however leaning on the working of God for it to be effectiveis 1 Corinthians 15:10 the place Paul says, However by the grace of God I’m what I’m, and his grace towards me was not in useless. Quite the opposite, I labored more durable than any of them, although it was not I, however the grace of God that’s with me.

Paul goes as far as to say he labored more durable than the opposite apostles. I imply, Paul was a severe employee. There’s fairly a doctrine of vocation and work ethic to be discovered within the Apostle Paul, for those who run with that. However I wont run with that proper now.

In poor health run with Pauls exertionsPauls engagement of his thoughts, his coronary heart, his will, his physique, his actionsand his saying, It was not I, however the grace of God that’s with me. You say, What do you imply, Paul, it wasnt you? It was you. It was your fingers doing the work. It was your thoughts. It was your physique. It was your religion that was engaged. And Paul would say he was engaged, nevertheless it was not in a decisive approach. Ultimatelyand most successfully and essentiallyit was the grace of God at work. And so thats the sort of paradigm that I carry and would encourage individuals to carry to New Years resolutions.

06:18 – Cultural Curiosity in Habits

Matt Tully
I believe you hit on the fascinating concept that oftentimes our resolutions are actually about attempting to assist us set up a behavior. Perhaps have been attempting to train usually, eat higher daily, learn our Bible daily, or pray extra constantly. Extra broadly, it looks like our tradition is fairly considering habits proper now. I used to be wanting on-line a little bit bit and there are numerous bestselling books on the facility of habits. There are podcasts that speak about tips on how to hack your habits. There are apps now that promise that will help you set up good habits, no matter that is likely to be. Do you’ve got any ideas on whats behind what appears to be a cultural curiosity in habits proper now?

David Mathis
A few of it, maybe, is our being conscious of extra info nowthrough numerous scientific researchinformation that God wired into us from the start, however is on the frontier of what people are studying concerning the human physique. The ultimate frontier in our analysis concerning the human physique is the mind. We perceive so little concerning the mind and we proceed to study increasingly about it and the behavior perform is one thing that has come up in latest analysis.

So, as an example, The Energy of Behavior ebook and people prefer it are popularizing a number of the more moderen analysis about the best way the mind capabilities in habits and seeing the glory of how God wired us from the start for these habits. For instance, take resolution making. You could not understand this, however resolution making takes a toll. Theres emotional vitality to think about an possibility towards an alternative choice, whether or not there are restricted choices or numerous choices, and decide about doing one thing. And if have been making aware choices daily, the funding of our vitality into deciding between issues is critical for the sorts of issues have been doing every day. So each time I get in an car I dont have to make the choice about whether or not or to not placed on a seat belt this time. To begin with, I dont wish to make investments the vitality in attempting to resolve and weigh the choices: Ought to I’ve the seat belt on? That is uncomfortable, nevertheless it may save me from a crash; however its a low probability Im going to crash the automobile. I dont have to exert that vitality and I dont have to make the mistaken resolution. I merely have to all the time put the seat belt on as a result of Im not going to plan when the accident is. And once I come to a pink mild I have to cease. I dont wish to domesticate the reasoning for making that call to cease or to not cease each time. And so vehicles are a technique for us to play out the choice, in a extra apparent approach, of the sorts of issues that habits do for us. So car habits are ways in which make our lives extra productive, extra protected.

And since Gods wired us in such a approach as to undergo these issues and create habits, we will then give our vitality elsewhere. To translate that to non secular habits, each morning once I get up I dont want to sit down there and weigh out, Ought to I hearken to Gods voice this morning within the Scriptures? Is it one thing I wish to do at present? On the one hand I dont wish to give the psychological vitality to attempting to make that call. Id like to offer my psychological vitality to what the Bible says and to listening to from God via studying his phrases and meditating on it in my soul. After which additionally I dont wish to make the mistaken resolution. I dont wish to begin pondering, Oh, at present I wont. That is the facility of behavior and have been very conscious of how habits work negatively for us. Have been working with a baby proper now on refraining from sucking her thumb or biting her fingernails. Have been conscious of the adverse connotations after we consider habits. However on the constructive aspect, God wired this into the human mind and means for us to make good, non secular use of the facility of behavior, and particularly the behavior of turning to him very first thing within the morning. Placing our vitality towards what he has to say to us and his phrase is a implausible keystone behavior the place different habits then fall like dominoes while you get the proper of key habits in place.

11:09 – Science and Psychology Findings

Matt Tully
I believe generally we will really feel like non secular habits are purely obligations that we’re referred to as to do, that we ought to be doing for non secular causes, and it may be onerous to determine tips on how to relate these to the findings of secular science, and psychology, and different issues that you just have been mentioning about issues have been studying concerning the human mind and the way we make choices, how we kind habits, and the place motivation comes from. We are able to generally really feel like we simply have to do it irrespective of how we really feel and that possibly these different issues simply give us excuses for why we dont wish to do it. So converse extra to the way you combine the findings of secular science and psychology to how you concentrate on points surrounding non secular disciplines.

David Mathis
To begin with, simply parenthetically, the findings of secular science have their very restricted place in a have to relate to what God has to say to us in his phrase. Thats a conviction I usher in, thats a conviction that Crossway as a writer goes to have from the start, and so put that bracket there. Weren’t placing these two aspect by aspect and attempting to mingle the 2. We now have a basis in Gods phrases to us in Scripture after which we attempt to see the place issues could be useful or not. And a few of us will take these extra peripherally, as I do. Others might be extra severe about them and make that extra of part of their lifethat intersection of science and religion.

However a key idea in a number of the behavior analysis is the perform of reward. The best way that the mind trains itself to undergo sure habits by seeking to a selected reward is so necessary. Not that that reward all the time reveals up, but when theres no reward, the brains not motivated to domesticate that behavior. And for us as Christians, reward is a really biblical idea. Jesus himself in his instructing makes, as C.S. Lewis says, unblushing guarantees of reward. Hebrews 11 talks about coming to him, believing that God exists, and that he rewards those that search him. And so reward is essential in cultivating numerous non secular habits. Different literature will name it non secular disciplines. Its essential to see these non secular disciplines not simply as obligations, however as opportunitiesopportunities for reward.

I’m a Christian hedonist. Ive labored at Wanting God and labored with John Piper for a few years. I imagine that God is most glorified in us when have been most glad in him, that God will not be glorified in the best way that he should be if weren’t glad in him. If we dont rejoice, and delight, and revel in himwhich the Bible assumes and makes express from cowl to cowl in numerous waysGod will not be rightly glorified. And so I wish to come to the non secular disciplines, or habits of grace, understanding that my God is a contented God, and that he needs to inspire and does inspire via reward. He means to be the good Reward that we pursue.

Within the non secular disciplines, have been on a quest for pleasure. Have been pursuing our pleasure within the one who’s supremely precious and pleasant, particularly God himself. Put that explicitly in place and are available to his phrase, not as a mere obligation or as an obligation, however as a possibility for relationship and for having fun with him. Or think about coming to prayer and having the beautiful reward that God himself, the Creator of the universe, not solely speaks to us in his phrase however he pauses, because it have been, and bends his ear and desires to listen to from us. We now have Gods ear within the individual and work of his Son in prayer. And God didnt make us to be lone rangers and to be on our personal, however he saves us together with a bunch of individuals referred to as the church. And he means to reward us via the relationships, and thru the inputs, and thru the investments, and thru the interplay that we’ve got with this individuals referred to as the church. This stuff are rewards held out to us. These are invites held out to us as Christians.

And that change in perspective will not be a thoughts sport. It’s coming to phrases with the best way the Bible itself talks about what it means to strategy God and pursue his numerous avenues. We’re coming as receivers to those God-appointed avenues of his grace to obtain from him the profit and non secular blessing and delight of understanding and having fun with him. And so when we’ve got that conception it transforms what it means to come back to his phrase, to come back to prayer, to come back to the assorted company habits that occur within the lifetime of the church for the Christian.

16:34 – Habits of Grace

Matt Tully
So one of many different issues that you just say in your ebook is that you just choose the time period habits of grace. It looks like you favor that over one thing just like the extra normal non secular disciplines. Why is that?

David Mathis
On the finish of the day, the terminology will not be an enormous deal. Im not attempting to battle a battle to vary the evangelical parlance on non secular disciplines. Thats most likely not a wise battle to battle.

However the best way you concentrate on issues could make a distinction in the way you expertise them or vice versa. The way you view that actuality could affect what sort of terminology you give to it. And the connotation of non secular disciplines appears to place the accent on me because the doer reasonably than coming to the entire enterprise within the context of a Christian theology that claims God is the good giver. Gods the good doer. And he’s extending initiatives, invites, and alternatives to you. There’s a waterfall of his grace and he has laid out in his phrase the commonest locations that he guarantees to carry his grace into our Christian lives. And so if we wish to be receivers of his grace within the Christian life we should always hearken to what he mentioned about how he continues to offer his ongoing grace to us. And infrequently lists of non secular disciplines have a tendency towards a protracted lists of ten, twelve, fifteen, twenty objects of assorted non secular disciplines to observe.

Matt Tully
And that may really feel fairly overwhelming at occasions.

David Mathis
It has to me, and maybe to you. And possibly there are some listeners on the market that love to have interaction in lengthy lists, however its typically been discouraging to me to strive to consider fifteen or twenty particular practices that I should be having in my life on a regular basis. One factor I discovered useful is to assume, Alright, now behind these particular disciplines which might be being recommended, what are the rules of Gods grace? What’s God doing behind that? How is my pursuit of those numerous habits in accordance with what Gods promised in extending his ongoing grace and the Christian life?

My greatest abstract of the principle rules is threefold: that initially via Gods phrase we hear his voiceGods respiration out of himself and his grace to us in his phrase, revealing to us who he himself is, who’s Son is, what our world is, what our sin is, what salvation is. His initially technique of grace for us within the Christian life is his phrase and our coming into contact with it in its numerous kinds.

After which secondarily God amazingly needs to listen to again from us. He provides us his ear in prayer. And so prayer is an important technique of grace. And you can name it precept at this degree with out moving into the practices of tips on how to go about prayer. The truth of prayer, that we’ve got Gods ear in prayer due to Jesus, is a precept of grace.

After which third could be that God places us in a company context, which is physique life in his church. So to summarize: hear his voice in his phrase, have his ear in prayer, after which belong to his physique within the fellowship of the native church, for God loves to increase his grace to us within the company context.

20:16 – Planning Habits

Matt Tully
There’s a frequent adage that for those who fail to plan you intend to fail. Do you assume thats true relating to cultivating habits of grace?

David Mathis
So right here we’re, the final week in December, and I dont assume its important that you just make New Years resolutions. You aren’t disobeying a biblical command for those who simply sit the factor out. However the best way Ive approached it’s, if Ive acquired a spouse, if Ive acquired pals, if Ive acquired others who’re doing it, and its sort of a cultural occasion, resolutions for good are usually not unbiblical. And so I like to benefit from the chance. Heres how I’d assume via planning for the New Yr. Very first thing could be to give attention to just a few issues, maybe solely a single factor, reasonably than a bunch.

Matt Tully
Why is that?

David Mathis
My expertise has been for those who give attention to a bunch of issues you’ll be able to solely deal with a lot directly when it comes to the emotional vitality that it takes to begin a complete bunch of recent issues. The very nature of habits, as we talked about, is attempting to avoid wasting us emotional vitality over repeated issues in order that we may give it to issues that actually want our emotional vitality. And so you will get into the season a little bit an excessive amount of and go overboard and make so many resolutions that you’re, humanly talking, destined to fail in all of them. So I’d say make just some, maybe two, possibly even one. And if have been speaking non secular resolutions right here, if youre come into the New Yr pondering, You recognize, my life is simply not formed and saturated with Gods phrase within the Scripture prefer it ought to be, possibly that is the yr to make one decision associated to the phrase. I wish to each day be in his phrase studying, finding out, meditating, memorizingwhether thats listening to his phrase learn or listening to preaching, no matter it bemake this a yr the place I kind this one keystone behavior.

There are some habits which might be so vital they create ripple results in your life. And for those who would give attention to that first and most simple technique of Gods grace, thats the place all of it begins: Gods speech. He creates via his speech and he redeems via his speech. The phrase that transforms us is the gospel phrase, Gods phrase. It is a elementary actuality. And so after we change into the sort of people that orient on his phrase as creatures to our Creator who speaks, it has all kinds of implications. Have been going to seek out in his phrase numerous issues which might be going to narrate to prayer and drive us to prayer and encourage prayer. And we can not take his phrase critically and obey his phrase with out making actual and substantial and efficient commitments to different Christians in an area actual life context. And so his phrase could be a type of keystone habits that will have an effect on different issues. So give attention to just a few new habits, possibly just one, as a substitute of many.

Second, make it particular. Maybe, as particularly as you’ll be able to, attempt to choose the sort of habits that you just wish to kind. Dont accept the overall decision. Attempt to make some particular plans for what time youre going to learn the Bible, how a lot youre gonna do it, the place youre going to begin, and attempt to plan it out. And I believe that may assist considerably in pursuing resolutions within the New Yr.

And this flows proper into crafting a plan thats lifelike. Dont strive to consider all the potential issues you are able to do. Its very straightforward to be impressed within the New Yr and to be idealistic. Somewhat, make it sensible. If youre going after the proper of behavior growth and alter in non secular habits they’ll make a big impression over time if youre selecting the correct factor. And having a sensible plan of tips on how to bounce into it will likely be useful.

One other fourth concept then could be to establish the reward. For the Christian the good Reward is God himselfthe God who’s the joyful God who means for us to know him and revel in him. That might be very efficient in creating your habits if youre consciously and deliberately figuring out what that reward is, understanding what youre pursuing as you go about it.

A fifth factor then could be to enlist some common accountability. Dont simply go by yourself with this. Attract a partner, a roommate, a pal, an accountability companion, or any person from church. Have any person else in on it so that there’s a tangible, seen, real-life individual that you just plan to speak to and keep up-to-date withsomeone who will assist in that behavior creation.

After which lastly, Id say cowl the efforts in prayer. We dont do that in our personal energy. Sure, we make exertions. Creating new habits entails our minds, our wills, our our bodies, our exertions of vitality. However the decisive work will not be executed by us. If theres going to be something of non secular significance, of lasting significance, thats going to be completed decisively by God at work in us to will and do for his good pleasure. Not I, Paul says, however the grace of God in me. And so to cowl the entire thing in prayer and say, Father, Im gonna make these efforts. Im going to do this. Im specializing in one or just a few issues and I need it to be lifelike and particular and Im pursuing the reward of understanding and having fun with youthe residing God and Jesus Christ whom you’ve got sentand Im drawing in others to attempt to assist with accountability. However Father, I do know nothing of lasting significance goes to occur merely due to my efforts. Its gonna occur since you had your favor on it. Your Spirit was at work. You blessed it. You prolonged your grace to me. You led to actual change in my life and actual enhance of pleasure. And so we should always ask God to be part of it and for him to try this as we attempt to make resolutions in a New Yr.

26:59 – Giving Your self Grace

Matt Tully
How necessary would you say it’s to offer your self grace for these days while you simply dont discover the time or make the time to wish or learn your Bible?

David Mathis
I’d wish to body it as lacking out on grace. If there may be the thought, Im not going to have a great day now, or Is God frowning at me as a result of I didnt do the evangelical quiet time very first thing within the morning and test the field?, I wish to encourage you to dispel that line of pondering. As a substitute, attempt to come at this from the angle of God is the giver of grace and he’s providing you these avenues for satisfaction and relationship with him that actually matter and that youre created for. And I wouldnt wish to domesticate feeling condemnation as a lot because the miss of a possibility. Perhaps like lacking breakfast the place you didnt wish to miss meals, maybe. You missed out on feeding. And so youre hungry. And so its not like, Oh, effectively you understand I missed it at present. I wont condemn myself for lacking breakfast, however In poor health strive once more tomorrow. No, youre nonetheless hungry. You most likely wish to have one thing mid-morning or youre going to wish to have lunch. So that will be a greater approach to consider it. For those who miss within the morning, Gods phrase remains to be there to be fed upon.

We additionally have to understand that there are seasons of life. In 2010 my spouse and I had twin boys and I’ve little or no reminiscence of these weeks, and even these months, as a result of I slept so little and have been doing feedings each hour and a half and we have been within the hospital for just a few weeks with each of them as a result of they have been preemies born at thirty-five weeks. There are seasons of life. Then our daughter cameour third baby cameand then our fourth baby took place two-and-a-half years in the past. And people have been loopy seasons and adapting to a brand new season of life. And so which may be a way by which you wish to perceive your context and know that life has its seasons. Life has its modifications. The sort of patterns and habits that you just wish to have in the long run arent all the time issues that it’s essential to drive for the sake of loving others within the meantime. So here’s a very sensible occasion in having a new child: I stand up early, I get to the desk downstairs, Ive acquired my Bible, and right here I amIm pursuing the one who rewards those that search him. I wish to know and revel in Jesus. Right here I’m, studying my Bible, after which I hear the primary few cries of the newborn.

Matt Tully
Each guardian listening is aware of precisely what youre speaking about.

David Mathis
At first its like, Effectively, possibly she is going to return to sleep. After which after a few minutes I understand that shes not going again to sleep. Shes awake. And shortly shes going to be waking up the opposite children and shortly shes going to be waking up my spouse. And in addition to, I really like this child and I wish to take care of her and nurture her. And so factoring in love for others is, I believe, essential on this dialog about giving your self grace and lacking your habits. If its due to your poor planningbecause you stayed up later than it is best to have since you have been watching the subsequent factor on Netflix or scrolling via whateverif its on you thats a really completely different story than if God is presenting you with a possibility to like and assist any person else. And so typically as a father, as a husband, typically the chance that God presents me to like and take care of any person else is an individual in my very own home when my good little desire could be to proceed to get pleasure from God over my Bible. Amen. Pursue that. And generally God calls with numerous acts of affection for caring for baby, caring for partner. So which may be one thing to assume via as effectively. What’s the purpose that the area you wished to carve out now has been restricted and cramped? Is it a divine transfer in your life the place hes providing, All proper, David. Im filling you up right here with my phrase. Ive executed so. Youre able to pour out. Youre able to take care of that child. Youre able to care to your spouse. Youre able to care to your neighbor. Reply the decision of affection proper now and are available again right here to feed in a while. Its a really completely different circumstance than simply my poor planning. There could also be a way by which we are saying, Come on, man. Youve acquired to plan higher than this. Get some accountability. Ive gotta get that TV off by this time so I can get sufficient sleep so I can stand up and and meet with my God, which is an important factor to do very first thing within the morning.

32:41 – Sensible Steps to Take

Matt Tully
If somebody is listening proper now and they’re satisfied, theyre excited, they’re motivated by this dialog to essentially attempt to prioritizeperhaps its their Bible studying in 2020 and even need a purpose of spending centered time of their Bibles each single day in 2020. My query is, very virtually, what could be the primary three tangible steps that they need to takemaybe even proper now or within the subsequent dayto begin to make that purpose a actuality?

David Mathis
I believe that is how I’d go about it, they usually could wish to go about it otherwise, however I believe the best way Id go about it’s most likely by myself with a pencil or on a keyboard, I’d attempt to kind out some ideas about it in order that its not simply this amorphous inclination in my head. Within the very act of getting it into phrases, the concept and the intentionality might be fleshed out and can develop. So in our heads we’ve got these seedlings or these trajectories of thought, however till theyre fleshed out both in phrases that we converse to any person else or if we seize them and in writing, theyre not complete and full and stuffed out but. So the very first thing I’d say is flip these resolutionsthese sort of latent resolutions or instinctsget them into phrases, whether or not thats spoken to somebody or written down.

After which I’d say have a dialog with any person. Draw any person in so youre not simply doing it by yourself. Hopefully thats a partner, thats a roommate, any person in your life that you may have by providing to them what youre planning they will converse into it as as to whether its lifelike, or whether or not it ought to be directed in a extra particular approach. Its simply useful to produce other individuals. God made us to produce other individuals, not simply to be alone and assume and write in our personal rooms, however to have interaction work together with others. So the very first thing is flesh it out in phrases. Second, attract one other individual.
After which possibly third I’d say flip it explicitly Godward. Ask for his assist. Ask that his blessing could be on it. Ask that he would verify that that is what he would have you ever to do right here in the beginning of the yr, that you’d wish to consecrate it, set it apart, make it holy to him and ask for his blessing on it and his energy in it.

And as you go about it, you wish to search for progress not perfection. That may be an intuition that creeps up presently of yearto create this lengthy listing of New Years resolutions after which assume it’s a must to do it completely and really feel a way of dissatisfaction or burden if youre not executing completely. And the purpose of constructing these resolutions, and searching for Gods assist, and accountability in it, and specificity in it, and a sensible plan in it, is that youd make progress in your non secular life. Not that you’d have ascended to some new degree of perfection.

36:05 – Closing

Matt Tully
Effectively, David, thanks a lot for spending a while speaking with us at present and for providing your insights into what God has taught you about habits of grace and the way he has led you to ascertain some, and Im hoping and praying that that is useful to many who’re listening at present.

David Mathis
Thanks, Matt. It was good to speak to you.

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