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Posts tagged ‘Oswald Chambers’

A Great Big Blind Spot.


Michael Brown
Michael Brown

On Oct. 24, I began to write a new book entitledAuthentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur’sStrange Fire. By God’s grace, three weeks (and more than 400 pages) later, with contributions from Craig Keener and Sam Storms and others, the book was completed and is now available as an e-book.

In the next few articles, I’ll share some of the key contents of the book with the hope that this will help deepen our hunger for God’s truth and God’s Spirit. Here, I’ll focus on Chapter 3 of Authentic Fire, entitled “A Great Big Blind Spot,” where I examine Pastor MacArthur’s claims that:

1. “The charismatic movement as such has made no contribution to biblical clarity, no contribution to interpretation, no contribution to sound doctrine.”

2. “People who have any connection to Judaism and Christianity have a connection to philanthropy. It is a striking anomaly, however, that there is essentially zero social benefit to the world from the Charismatic Movement. Where’s the charismatic hospital? Social services? Poverty relief? This is a scam.”

3. “The movement itself has brought nothing that enriches true worship.”

4. “I’ll start believing the truth prevails in the Charismatic Movement when its leaders start looking more like Jesus Christ.”

I’m sure that some of you are shaking your heads, wondering how a leader of Pastor MacArthur’s caliber could make such extreme statements (either in his Strange Fire book or at the Strange Fire conference).

One answer would be willful ignorance, meaning he knows what he is saying is false and yet he says it anyway. To that I can only say God forbid. My esteem for Pastor MacArthur and my commitment to walk in love toward him does not allow me to consider this possibility even for a moment.

What then is the problem? If it is not willful ignorance, then it must a blind spot—a great, big blind spot, one that is so large that it does not allow him (or those who follow in his footsteps) to see these issues clearly.

In Authentic Fire, I take almost 35 pages to expose this blind spot. Let me take a few paragraphs here to address the first of these four claims, touching very briefly on the last three claims at the end of this article.

Have charismatics, as such, made real contributions to biblical clarity, interpretation and sound doctrine? Absolutely!

Of course, one could immediately challenge the idea that the positive contributions of charismaticscholars and theologians as charismatics can somehow be separated from the positive contribution of charismatic scholars and theologians in general.

This would be like discounting most (or all) of the positive contributions of cessationist scholars and theologians since, it could be argued, they did not primarily make those contributions as cessationists. Not only so, but this line of thinking actually produces a false dichotomy, as if you can easily separate one’s theology and spiritual experience from the whole of one’s life—be it in biblical interpretation, theology, worship, acts of service or character.

Still, let’s answer this question on Pastor MacArthur’s terms, since it can easily be demonstrated that charismatics as such have made wonderful contributions to biblical interpretation, theology and sound doctrine.

To this day, the most widely read devotional is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. What many readers do not know is that the transforming experience for Chambers as a believer was beingbaptized in the Spirit, and from 1907-1910, he was a traveling speaker and representative of the Pentecostal League of Prayer.

Go back and read Chambers again, noting the depth of his spiritual penetration, his exaltation of Jesus and his pointing to the work of the Spirit, and recognize that this beloved author believed in the baptism of the Spirit and ministered as a Pentecostal, although he opposed division over the question of tongues.

And how about A.W. Tozer, read more today than he was in his lifetime, famous for extraordinarily rich books like The Knowledge of the Holy?

Tozer was mentored by F.F. Bosworth, author of Christ the Healer and an early Pentecostal leader who was touched at Azusa Street, and Tozer believed the gifts of the Spirit were for God’s people today.

It was Tozer who once wrote, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

This makes much more sense now.

In the realm of biblical scholarship, some of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars speak in tongues (and/or affirm the gifts of the Spirit for today), including Gordon Fee, Craig Keener, Ben Witherington, Peter H. Davids, and N.T. Wright. (Wright described tongues as being “like a private language of love.”) There is no question that their spiritual experiences have enhanced their scholarship (think of Fee on 1 Corinthians or on the Holy Spirit in Paul; think of Keener on Acts or on miracles, past and present; think of Davids on healing in 1 Peter and James [Jacob]).

And then there are leading philosophers like J.P. Moreland, committed to integrating rigorous intellectualism with the power of the Spirit, and scholars like Wayne Grudem, general editor of the ESV, whose theological studies include an emphasis on continuationism. (In fact, the emphasis on the continuance of the gifts of the Spirit is an important doctrinal contribution by the Charismatic Movement.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it is enough to expose this massive blind spot in the Strange Fire camp.

As for the question of “Where is the charismatic hospital?” how about Calcutta Mercy Hospital, founded by Pentecostal missionaries Mark and Huldah Buntain, serving 100,000 needy Indian patients every year? This is actually one of countless charismatic hospitals and ministries of mercy.

And what of Teen Challenge, a ministry of compassion birthed in the Spirit and carried on by the Spirit? (Again, the list is almost endless.)

As for the charge that the Charismatic Movement has made no real contribution to worship (!), just think of Hillsong or the Vineyard or even Jack Hayford himself (author of “Majesty”), just to mention a very few out of many.

As for the charge that charismatics need to look more like Jesus before their truth claims can be taken seriously, think of Corrie ten Boom of Hiding Place fame, one of the most beloved, godly women of the 20th century and a committed, tongues-speaking charismatic—and she is one of millions.

You can read more in the Authentic Fire book, but enough has been said here to render this great, big blind spot exposed.

And that is good news, not bad news, since all this is to the glory of God, not man, with the help of the Spirit and for the good of the world and the church.

Rather than argue about it, we should rejoice.

(Print versions of the book are only available through our ministry at AskDrBrown.org.)

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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Finding Strength and a Hero in Life’s Fire Swamps.


 
Gwen Smith

There is a scene in the whimsical and quirky film The Princess Bride in which some bad guys were chasing the two main characters, Princess Buttercup and Wesley. In order to escape, Buttercup and Wesley ran into the treacherous Fire Swamp (insert scary music and creepy feelings here).

The Fire Swamp has three challenges: fire spurts, quicksand, and the ROUS‘s – rodents of unusual size (stay with me…). At one point in the Fire Swamp adventure, Princess Buttercup fell into a pit of dry quicksand, instantly vanishing. Her brave hero, Wesley, quickly grabbed a sturdy vine then plunged in to save his true love. Moments later both characters emerged from the quicksand gasping for breath, stunned by the events that had just taken place.

Stress can clutter our lives, consume us just as fast and leave us gasping for breath, stunned. When we find ourselves in the fire swamps, we ask question after question: How did this happen? How did I get here? How do I get out of this scary place? Does anyone know I’m in this pit? Who will be my hero?

Falling into the quicksand of situational fire swamps becomes a greater risk when our souls run on empty. Without a doubt, I’m more vulnerable on the days when my schedule is so full that my God-time is minimized. You probably know what it feels like to have a day filled with activity but a heart filled with empty. I imagine you, too, feel at times as if all you do is work, work, work and give, give, give. You feel lonely among crowds of people and wonder if anyone really sees you or if anyone really cares. At times it seems we all have too many obligations, too much stress, and not enough strength.

In order to survive these pitfalls, we must wait upon God – the One who won’t grow tired or weary. He has strength readily available for us and knows where to direct our steps. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV).

King David said it like this, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:1-3a).

Stress happens. Fire swamps of life come and go. There’s really no avoiding them. We can, however, be spiritually prepared to face their challenges. God equips us – strengthens us – as we wait on Him. As we trust in Him. As we dwell with Him.

Have you refueled in His presence lately? Take time to meet with God one-on-one today. As the psalmist wrote, “Let us go to His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool – arise, O LORD, and come to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might” (Psalm 132:7-8).

Friend, keep company with Him today. All day. When you do, you will experience His strength for each moment and His direction in each challenge. Oswald Chambers, prominent minister, teacher and author of My Utmost for His Highest, had this to say: “At the most unexpected moments in your life there is a whisper of the Lord – “Come to Me,” and you are immediately drawn to Him. Personal contact with Jesus changes everything.”

The journey to becoming a God-strong woman is all about personal contact with Jesus. You and I will experience greater peace and deeper faith as we determine to respond to His constant invitation to come. But don’t worry… Jesus is no stranger to stress. He walked the same earth we do and dealt with the struggles and strains we deal with. He loved many a stressed-out woman while here on earth and many more before and since His ascension. He knows your stresses – your Fire Swamps – your distractions – your stuff – and invites you to come just the same.

When we position ourselves in the presence of the Peace-giver and look to Him to lead and prioritize our heart matters, the strengthening begins. Take time to consider your priorities, evaluate your online activities, and determine what life-clutter needs to stay and what needs to go. Examine your heart, your exhaustion, and the pains of your yesterdays. Take an honest and, possibly, uncomfortable look at the material, emotional, social, and relationship clutter that keeps you from the freedom that God intends for you to experience. Then – once you eliminate what you don’t need – renew and rejuvenate your soul space with what you do need: spiritual disciplines like a daily quiet time, personal worship, and God’s Word.

Are you ready? Ready to move to a fresh place of soul rest and spirit strength? Ready to simplify your faith and press on to become the woman that Jesus is really calling you to be?

I know I am.

Let the strengthening begin.

Gwen Smith is a speaker, worship leader, recording artist and the author of Broken Into Beautiful. She co-founded the popular online devotional and conference ministry Girlfriends in God and has shared her songs and stories on many national television and radio shows. Gwen and her husband Brad have been married since 1993 and stay busy with their three cool kids who are now officially: two tweens and a teen. Connect with her at www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic or visit her website at www.GwenSmith.net.

Publication date: March 7, 2011

What’s the Difference Between Holiness and Legalism?.


holding Bible
(© Sorinus / StockFreeImages.com)

Holiness is beautiful, legalism is binding; holiness brings life, legalism brings death. They are as different as night and day, and yet at first glance they can seem similar, because they both stand against sinful behavior and call for holy living. How can we distinguish between the two?

Legalism is rules without relationship, emphasizing standards more than the Savior, and laws more than love. It is a system based on fear and characterized by joyless judgmentalism, producing futility instead of freedom.

To an unsaved person, the legalist preaches justification by works, saying, “You’re a wicked sinner and you need to get rid of all your filthy habits if you want the Lord to accept you.” There is no grace in this message; no exalting of the life-changing, sin-cleansing power of the blood of Jesus; no clear proclamation of mercy.

The declaration of God’s love expressed through the cross is muffled, if it is even heard at all. Consequently, the proof of the new birth is seen almost entirely in what someone no longer does, and this continues to be the pattern for believers within the church: They are judged almost entirely by a few external standards (which, in many cases, are not even expressly mentioned in the Word) and they are monitored by conformity to the particular group’s code of conduct. The result is external conformity rather than inward transformation—and that means either self-righteousness of self-condemnation (or both!).

Of course, it is absolutely true that God has very high standards, and for anyone honestly reading the Word, there can be no doubt that He calls us to live by very high standards—in our thoughts, words and deeds; in our attitudes; in our sexuality; in our families; in our relationships; and much, much more. (See Eph. 5:1-6.)

Tragically, legalists—despite their best intentions—get things terribly wrong. First, they try to change a person from the outside in, whereas God deals with us from the inside out. Second, they fail to present a balanced picture of the Lord, putting too little stress on His mercy and too much emphasis on His wrath. Third, they do not point the struggling sinner (or believer) to the Lord’s supernatural empowerment, making holiness a matter of human effort alone. Finally, they add laws, standards, commandments, customs and traditions that are not found in the Word, making those things even more important than the biblical commandments themselves.

In contrast, true, scriptural holiness begins with the heart and flows from an encounter with God and His Word. It calls for repentance in response to the Lord’s gracious offer of salvation and it offers a way to be holy—the blood of Jesus and the Spirit of God. Biblical holiness is free, although it requires discipline and perseverance. For the legalist, nothing is free. Everything must be earned! That’s why legalism leads to bondage and holiness leads to liberty.

As Ralph Cudworth explained many years ago, “I do not mean by holiness the mere performance of outward duties of religion, coldly acted over, as a task; not our habitual prayings, hearings, fastings, multiplied one upon another (though these be all good, as subservient to a higher end); but I mean an inward soul and principle of divine life (Rom. 8:1-5), that spiriteth all these.”

It is that inward spiritual principle that must be cultivated—the principle of intimacy with Jesus, the principle of being renewed in our minds by His Word and Spirit, the principle of being conformed to His image and character, hating what He hates and loving what He loves.

As Dr. Kent Hughes expressed in his book Disciplines of a Godly Man, “There is a universe of difference between the motivations behind legalism and discipline. Legalism says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God,’ while discipline says, ‘I will do this because I love God and want to please him.’ Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered.”

Unfortunately, the moment you preach biblical holiness, many Christians put their hands over their ears and say, “That’s legalism! That’s condemnation! That’s man-made religion! That’s the dead letter of the law! You won’t put me in bondage! I won’t listen to stuff like that!” As Robert Brimstead observed, “The idea of living strictly by what the Bible says has been branded as legalism.”

And so, these Christians run from the dangerous clutches of legalism and fall into the deadly grasp of license—that self-deceived state of fleshly liberty, catering to their carnality rather than crucifying it. What a terrible error!

Whatever comes naturally to these “liberated” believers is accepted as normal (and “understood,” of course, by the Lord), while biblical commandments are brought down to the level of their own experience, and anything that brings any kind of spiritual pressure to bear on them is rejected as not being the easy yoke and light burden of Jesus. And when the Holy Spirit brings conviction on people like this, they rebuke the devil for trying to condemn them.

To quote Oswald Chambers, “Liberty means ability not to violate the law; license means personal insistence on doing what I like. … To be free from the law means that I am the living law of God, there is no independence of God in my make-up. License is rebellion against all law. If my heart does not become the center of divine love, it may become the center of diabolical license.”

What then is the antidote? Flee from legalism, stay far away from license, and run to holiness. Reject humanly birthed, external religion. Give no place to false teaching that excuses carnality, and instead, embrace new covenant, heart transformation—and in the power of the Spirit, supernaturally enabled by God’s grace, deal ruthlessly with sin in your life. That is the path to freedom!

(Adapted from Go and Sin No More: A Call to Holiness.)

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Michael Brown is the author of The Real Kosher Jesus and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or@drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Characteristics of Christian Growth – Part 1 (1 of 3).


II Peter 1:1-4

INTRODUCTION: Oswald Chambers, May 10

“Add to your faith virtue…” (“Furnish your faith with resolution”) 2 Peter 1:5.

“Add” means there is something we have to do. We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save ourselves nor sanctify ourselves, God does that; but God will not give us good habits, He will not give us character, He will not make us walk aright. We have to do all that ourselves, we have to work out the salvation God has worked in. “Add” means to get into the habit of doing things, and in the initial stages it is difficult. To take the initiative is to make a beginning, to instruct yourself in the way you have to go.

Beware of the tendency of asking the way when you know it perfectly well. Take the initiative, stop hesitating, and take the first step. Be resolute when God speaks, act in faith immediately on what He says, and never revise your decisions. If you hesitate when God tells you to do a thing, you endanger your standing in grace. Take the initiative, take it yourself, take the step with your will now, make it impossible to go back. Burn your bridges behind you- “I will write that letter”; “I will pay that debt.” Make the thing inevitable.

We have to get into the habit of hearkening to God about everything, to form the habit of finding out what God says. If when a crisis comes, we instinctively turn to God, we know that the habit has been formed. We have to take the initiative where we are, not where we are not.”

2 Peter is an almost last will and testament (1:13-15), written to warn the beloved believers in Christ about the doctrinal dangers they were facing. This letter was probably written from a Roman jail in about 67-68 A.D., just before the death of Nero, remembering that Peter probably died in Nero’s persecution. (Nero died A.D. 68). Therefore, 2 Peter was written for the purpose of exposing, thwarting, and defeating the invasion of false teachers into the church. It has been said that 2 Peter stands second only to Jude in being so graphic in exposing false teachers. Warren Wiersbe said, “the best way to detect falsehood is to understand the characteristics of the truth.”

In a general characterization of false teachers, Peter informs that they:

1. Teach destructive heresies
2. They deny Christ and twist the Scriptures
3. They bring true faith into disrepute
4. They mock the Second Coming of Christ
5. They display immoral character

As a result, Peter describes them in more detail, then he describes their doctrines. Peter moves in his message to motivate his readers to continue to develop their Christian character. (1:5-11) He explains wonderfully how a believer can have assurance of his salvation, as well as what has robbed believers of their certainty. One of the major recurring themes i …

By Johnny Hunt

The Best Time to Plant a Tree.


The Best Time to Plant a Tree

EDITOR’S NOTE: Interested in starting a Bible reading plan? It’s never too late – check out our BibleStudyTools.com’s Bible Reading Plans, decide what pattern you like, and pick your start date. Just sign up to get started!

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”

Lots of people make resolutions at the start of a new year. Unfortunately the best intentions in the world easily get laid aside once we have to go back to work. Life has a way of intruding on our desire to make a new start. We want to be better or different or to break out of a rut or to take a risk or to break a bad habit or end a negative relationship or set out in a new direction. I’ll bet half the people in America want to lose weight this year.

And this time they really mean it!

Maybe this is the year you want to plow some new ground spiritually.

You could read through the Bible in 2013.
You could decide to be baptized.
You could join a short-term missions trip.
You could memorize Romans 8.
You could get involved in a small group.
You could take an online course on how to study the Bible.
You could start a prayer journal.
You could pick 10 good books you want to read this year.
You could stop making excuses and join a church.
You could join the choir.
You could help start a Moms in Touch group.
You could start praying for 3 friends to come to Christ.
You could read “My Utmost For Highest Highest” by Oswald Chambers
You could listen to Christian music while you work out.
You could volunteer to help out at a local public school.
You could try to heal a broken relationship.
You could fast one day a week.
You could pray for an unreached people group.
You could volunteer to help the sound team at your church.
You could visit your local jail once a month.
You could ask God to help you grow in patience (or joy or courage) this year.

What holds us back? Very often it is the feeling that no matter what we do, we’ll be the same a year from now as we are today. When we look back on failed resolutions from the past, it’s easy and very human to think, “What’s the use? I’ll never change.” And it’s true that most diets that start today will end by Friday. And lots of people who pledge to stop smoking will break their pledge later today. Stopping something bad and starting something good is always hard. That’s why most of us stay the way we are.

This is Day 2 of 365 days that come gift-wrapped from heaven. You have the privilege today of starting over again-or at least making some changes you know you need to make.

Don’t let past failures hold you back. Before this day is over, jot down some goals you’d like to accomplish in 2013. Write them down. Print them out. Put the list where you can see it at least once a week.

Go ahead. Plant a tree. Put that seed in the ground. Yes, you should have done it yesterday, but yesterday is gone forever so don’t worry about what might have been.

Just do it.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.

[Content provided by Keep Believing Ministries]

By Dr. Ray Pritchard, Keep Believing Ministries

Sometimes God Is Silent.


God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. Psalm 83:1

Oswald Chambers once asked a provoking question: “Am I close enough to God to feel secure when He is silent?” In other words, must I have constant two-way communication with God to feel approved and loved by Him? We must develop a maturity that does not panic “between the times”—to use a helpful phrase from Richard Bewes. In season is a time of refreshing when God clearly manifests Himself. Out of season is when He seems to hide His face from us, those times when He is silent.

God wants us to learn as much from His silence as we learn from His absence. For example, often we learn more about ourselves when God hides Himself than in times of conscious blessing. His silence is like taking an examination in which we must demonstrate how much we have learned about His “ways.”

An intimate, unique experience of some kind with God is important for each of us to have. It can be the best thing that can happen to us—but it can also be dangerous. After such an experience we can express a spiritual arrogance and pride that exalt us, in our own eyes, above other “less special” believers. If that happens, perhaps the only thing that can bring us back to a humble awareness of our spiritual position is for God Himself to desert us momentarily.

People who suppose they have this sort of relationship with God lack in both teachability and accountability. They sometimes think they are spiritually superior to all who try to help them. The only thing that will possibly help them is for God Himself to “stay behind” while they carry on in their presumption.

It happened to me as I described above. It hurt very much, and I couldn’t understand it for a while. God appeared to betray me. Not that I noticed it at first.

It happens, I believe, to nearly every person who has had an authentic experience with the Holy Spirit. God hides His face—suddenly without notice. No apology. Just silence. The explanation comes (usually) much, much later.

Excerpted from The Sensitivity of the Spirit (Charisma House, 2002).

By R. T. KENDALL.

The Best Time to Plant a Tree.


 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Interested in starting a Bible reading plan? It’s never too late – check out our BibleStudyTools.com’s Bible Reading Plans, decide what pattern you like, and pick your start date. Just sign up to get started!

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”

 

Lots of people make resolutions at the start of a new year. Unfortunately the best intentions in the world easily get laid aside once we have to go back to work. Life has a way of intruding on our desire to make a new start. We want to be better or different or to break out of a rut or to take a risk or to break a bad habit or end a negative relationship or set out in a new direction. I’ll bet half the people in America want to lose weight this year.

 

And this time they really mean it!

 

Maybe this is the year you want to plow some new ground spiritually.

 

You could read through the Bible in 2011.
You could decide to be baptized.
You could join a short-term missions trip.
You could memorize Romans 8.
You could get involved in a small group.
You could take an online course on how to study the Bible.
You could start a prayer journal.
You could pick 10 good books you want to read this year.
You could stop making excuses and join a church.
You could join the choir.
You could help start a Moms in Touch group.
You could start praying for 3 friends to come to Christ.
You could read “My Utmost For Highest Highest” by Oswald Chambers
You could listen to Christian music while you work out.
You could volunteer to help out at a local public school.
You could try to heal a broken relationship.
You could fast one day a week.
You could pray for an unreached people group.
You could volunteer to help the sound team at your church.
You could visit your local jail once a month.
You could ask God to help you grow in patience (or joy or courage) this year.

 

What holds us back? Very often it is the feeling that no matter what we do, we’ll be the same a year from now as we are today. When we look back on failed resolutions from the past, it’s easy and very human to think, “What’s the use? I’ll never change.” And it’s true that most diets that start today will end by Friday. And lots of people who pledge to stop smoking will break their pledge later today. Stopping something bad and starting something good is always hard. That’s why most of us stay the way we are.

 

This is Day 2 of 365 days that come gift-wrapped from heaven. You have the privilege today of starting over again-or at least making some changes you know you need to make.

 

Don’t let past failures hold you back. Before this day is over, jot down some goals you’d like to accomplish in 2011. Write them down. Print them out. Put the list where you can see it at least once a week.

 

Go ahead. Plant a tree. Put that seed in the ground. Yes, you should have done it yesterday, but yesterday is gone forever so don’t worry about what might have been.

 

Just do it.

 

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.

[Content provided by Keep Believing Ministries].

By Dr. Ray Pritchard.

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