Thursday, March 29, 2012

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The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

I enter this task of this writing, not with eagerness, but with a heavy heart of one not wanting to be the one to put forth the message. I feel like Jonah must have felt; wanting to run the opposite way, while asking God to let this cup pass me by. One side of me says, drop the whole matter. Just change your focus Ginger, and rejoice in the Lord and leave this matter to others. The other side of me says, “Not taking the risk of speaking out about a very possible danger to the body of Christ is exactly why we are becoming so marginalized in the world today. If I sit back and don’t speak out, then I am just as guilty of the erosion within Christendom as the one that is intentionally trying to destroy Christianity. Therefore, even with a heavy heart, I will attempt to describe the following insidious and eroding movements that are rising up and being supported by many who proclaim that they are Christian leaders.

There are so many distortions and perversions of the Word of God today that have crept into the body of Christ that it is often hard to distinguish the difference between the teachings of Christianity from those found in the teachings of ‘foreign gods.’ For me, this has opened my understanding of the importance of why God tells us not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers. Solomon, being wise, asked of God to be given the gift of discernment. Yet even he joined in relationships with women who served other gods, and in so doing, opened himself and his people to the destruction caused by the infiltration of the beliefs of foreign gods.

Over the years of my life as a born again Christian, either through personal experience and/or through study of the scriptures, I have been exposed to many of the false teachings that are so prevalent more and more within the body of Christ today. It is becoming harder and harder to find a church that is truly centered on teaching that stays faithful and true to the Word of God. There is nothing new under sun that hasn’t existed from the beginning. Evil and perversion of the Word of God has existed ever since the fall of Adam and Eve. Satan just tries to continually put a new face on these perversions in an effort to make evil look good and good look evil. I must say, he is doing a pretty good job of it. As Christians we don’t seem to be doing very much to thwart his efforts, and at times we just jump right on his little bandwagon to accept, and even contribute, to the rise of his lies and deceitfulness. We can not excuse our contribution to the development of the apostate church, for we have often allowed ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly, to become his instruments to erode the foundations of our faith. We have left ourselves vulnerable to the influx of false teachers and teachings by our apathy and unwillingness to stay rooted and grounded in the Word. We have not followed the directions in the ‘owner’s manual’ to “study to show yourself approved that you may be a workman that need not be ashamed.”

There are so many false teachings, being presented as ‘thus saith the Lord,” that I really don’t even know where to begin. In fact, I don’t believe any one could enumerate all of them. And even if one could, Satan would just come along and put another face on one of his lies to try to fool us once again. When are we going to wake up to the truth that we must put on the full armor of God if we are to be properly equipped to walk close with the Lord under His protection?

There are those that assert the ‘name it, claim it, receive it’ of the ever popular prosperity teachings of today. They will assert that any one that does not continually stay on the mountain tops and out of the valleys of life do so out of weak faith. Others will say that if one suffers and is not completely healed is also to blame for a lack of faith. I don’t claim that God’s principles don’t promote success or health. But I do believe that this materialistic health and wealth and all that you want is often taken way out of the realm of God’s true intentions. According to such teachings, the sufferings of Paul, as he was thrown into jail and into diverse trials, was because he did not have enough faith to keep him out of the fray of the persecution of the world. Someone confined to a wheel chair for life, like Joni Eareckson Tada, is deemed as one of little faith. Where is the understanding that God’s ways are higher than ours? How can one not see that it is often in our weakness that God’s strength can be made even more evident and real? If you don’t know who she is, I urge you to read about her and all the Lord has done in and through her even though she has been a quadriplegic since she was a teenager. Try telling the man in any third world country that works hard and yet makes perhaps only $500 in one year, that if he just had enough faith he could have all the material success that he could dream of. Such teachings only contribute to confusion and often destruction of the understanding that we are to trust in God, no matter what our experience, situation, or circumstances may be. What happened to the belief that “greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world?” I don’t doubt that God has the ability to heal. I believe that all healing comes from God, whether it occurs in the here and now or in eternity is up to Him. There are those that endure constant pain, day in and day out. Yes, some things exist in our lives as a result of sin. But some things are also there simply because we live in a fallen world and trials and tribulations are going to fall upon the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

Whether God heals someone instantly, or whether He is there to help those through their sufferings, both are equally miraculous. Just consider how the one who suffers through the crippling disease of rheumatoid arthritis, and yet the praises of the Lord are constantly issuing forth from deep within them. Can we not see the evidence of God’s wondrous powers even in the midst of such suffering? We are quick to blame God for the suffering, and yet give Him no credit for helping those very same people to ‘rejoice and be glad in Him’ in spite of the situation and circumstances of one’s life.

Then too the mysticism of the New Age movement is even found in our churches that proclaim to be evangelical and/or fundamental. Such ideas of ‘think it, see it (visualize it), speak it’ is also being supported as a biblical teaching.
Using ones mental powers to bring something into being, or speaking something over and over into existence is also another lie of the devil. That God will give us everything we can dream of or imagine, just because we ask for it, is not what
is taught in the Word. What happened to trusting in the Lord that He alone knows what is good and best for us? What happened to learning to be content whether we have much or little? What happened to the concept of “praising God in and for all things?” Positive thinking has its place, for God tells us to think on the things that are above and not beneath, think upon those things that are higher than ours, for we are to have the mind of Christ. But that does not mean that we can speak things into existence. God is not our servant; we are to be a servant unto God and yield to His will, not the other way around.

Is your church being informed of the movement to have Christians, Jews, and Muslims join in an agreement with one another known as “A Common Word between Us and You?” You can find and read the document for yourself by Googling those words. It is a document written by Muslims, and now signed as an agreement, by many Christian pastors and other leaders. On the surface, it looks very benign, and at first glance you may even think, “Oh, how nice! Finally, we can all come together, put our differences aside, and begin to work together for the common good.” But I beg you to take a deeper look. What ‘differences’ are we being asked to put aside in order to become joint members in agreement with this body of activists? I will not enumerate all of them, but merely state the most blatant one that stands out in my mind. We are asked to ignore the Lord Jesus Christ as being the Son of God. Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet, but they deny His deity. That in itself is a big enough red flag that would be an obvious sign of danger and something that we should run away from and have nothing to do with it.

Jesus Christ, the second person in the trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, is the very cornerstone and foundation upon which our faith is built. I won’t go into naming the Christian leaders that are entering into the signing of this agreement. Personalities are not the issue here, as far as I am concerned, but rather disobedience to the admonitions of the Word of God. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them (emphasis mine), and be ye separate, saith the Lord, ….” (II Cor. 6: 14- 17). This is but one directive we are given to obey for the good of the whole body. It does not say that we are not to love and care for unbelievers. We are told to love and pray even for our enemies. However, note again that we are not to enter a relationship that could lead us to compromise our faith and walk with the Lord. I believe that in choosing to join in an agreement that obviously excludes and denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ is also in direct opposition to the commandment that we are to have no other gods before Him. Are we really so blind that we are unable to see the breach of faith that is created in being willing to even consider being a part of such an agreement, much less actually signing such a contract of agreement? Again, if you are interested enough, you can Google the name of this document and discover for yourself what it says, and who has thus far deemed it worthy enough to actually sign and become a member of this movement. The persons themselves are not really important except that we might want to be aware so that we will not be led astray by such persons who have either entered into such an agreement out of ignorance and good intentions, or out of deliberate compromise with the word of God.

Some may investigate the previously mentioned document and view it as nothing more than a call to join in working for the “common good.” However, what common good is there if Christ is denied? I agree it fits very well into the humanistic world point of view. Nevertheless, it should not be hard to discern that it is in direct opposition to the Christian world view. Of course, I realize that each individual must make his own decision, but should we not first always check with God’s Word to make sure that our opinions are based on God’s will and not the will of man? Aren’t we supposed to make sure that we are not conformed by the world, but transformed by the only real truth from the One True Living God by the power of the Holy Spirit? Are we supposed to work together for the ‘common good’ to please man, or to please God?

There are other Christian prominent leaders that are trying to get all denominations and other faiths to once again put all of their ‘differences’ aside, to join in a combined effort to send workers into the field of the world to work for peace and the annihilation of wars, hunger, disease, poverty, etc. These movements are often presented as being a way of promoting peace on earth. This too looks to be a valiant and worthy cause. After all, as Christians aren’t we told to be cheerful givers, being willing and ready to help others no matter whom they are? But here I caution us to consider, under whose power are we to go into all the world- the power of mankind, or the power of the Holy Spirit? In truth, no matter what man does, there will never be true peace on this earth until Jesus Christ returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and every knee is bowed to receive Him as such. Jesus has told us to obey and follow Him till we are once again joined with Him. Yes, we are told to be charitable and help the needy, but never did He say that mankind in his own power could ever eradicate poverty. In fact he told us that the ‘poor would always be with us.’ He did not say this for us just to accept their plight and not be sensitive to their needs. On the contrary, He has told us this to stir our hearts to behave and act with care and compassion for one another-“for as you have done unto the least of these, so you have done unto Me.”

We are not saved by good works, but we are saved to do good works that we may glorify Him in thought, word, and deed. However, some are loosing sight of this and are being swept up into an attitude of the ‘brotherhood or unity of mankind.’ Universalism, Syncretism, and Interfaithism would have us believe that it doesn’t matter what ‘god’ we believe in for all faiths are equal and merely different paths that lead to the same supreme being, whatever, wherever, and whomever that may be. Accordingly then, Jesus was not the Son of God and His sacrificial death on the Cross was never needed.

There are those that are busy at work trying to marginalize and even change and water down the scriptures to remove the power of the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of the Word. Some are even replacing the word Allah for the word God and removing the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. The last time I read my Bible though, it still stated without a doubt that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life and no man can come to the Father except through Him. Those are the words of Jesus, not mine, so if someone has a problem with that, their argument is with God, not with me. For me, that settles it. God can not lie.

I urge each of us to consider, who is in the driver’s seat of any movement? If any ‘good deed’ is under girded with the principle that the unity of mankind can eventually create a utopia, the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, that effort is already doomed from the very beginning. Mankind’s best efforts will forever fall short of the mark. It is only through Christ and in Christ that we have victory over the trials of this world and access to the Father now and for eternity in Heaven. When people get wrapped up in believing that it is their efforts that change the world, they are repeating history only to return once more to the building of the Tower of Babel, and we all know how that ended. We must remember that “greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.” It is God who saves us and not we our selves. Under our own power we may have great success in the things of this world, but that kind of success is only temporary and vanishes like the wind with the last breathe of life. It is only those things which we have done to the glory of God that have any eternal value.

There are those that would have us believe that we should look within our selves and that in so doing, by self actualization, we can become like God. Isn’t this exactly what Satan told Eve? It is exalting SELF as being equal with God, and thereby becoming our own god who then has no need of Christ, the Cross, or forgiveness. If we boast in our own power to bring about lasting change and peace in ourselves or the world, we have joined the ranks of Satan and his demons. Pride says, “Let us join together and build our new self, world and future.” True acknowledgement of the Lord says, “Apart from the Lord, all is vanity.” Let me not be led by my own opinions, but by “every word from the mouth of God” in the power of His Holy Spirit.

The body of Christ is becoming more and more like the Laodicean church as described in the Book of Revelation – having the appearance of religion, but lacking the power thereof. We are neither cold nor hot. Not wanting to take the risk of offending others, some of our pastors are choosing to say only those things that ‘tickle’ our ears and make us feel comfortable. We are choosing to ignore blatant sin, being too unwilling to give or receive correction that would lead us to become so sorrowful that we would rush to the arms of the Lord to confess our sins and ask for His merciful forgiveness. Instead, we ignore our own sin and sin within the church until the ‘leaven’ has been allowed to pollute, not only individual lives, but the whole body making it rotten to the very core. It has become fashionable and acceptable to ignore sin and simply redefine it with such terms as ‘a different lifestyle’, abortion, the murder of innocent unborn children, as ‘a right of choice, lying as ‘misspeaking,’ and so on. God knows we are always going to struggle against our sinful nature, but today sin is often not even mentioned for fear that we might be offended ourselves or offend someone else. Some pastors have exchanged terms like sin or sinner, or saved and lost, for such terms as the ‘churched’ and ‘unchurched’ so that it might be less embarrassing and confrontational to the unbeliever.

The goal now seems to be to make everyone feel ‘comfortable.’ No wonder sin is so rampant within the body of Christ. We are so busy trying to escape being confronted with our sin and need for forgiveness, that rationalizing and making excuses for our behavior has become the norm instead of the exception. We have forgotten the sweet savor of being washed clean and the blessings of restoration to fellowship with the One who loves us so much that He gave His life for us. We have forgotten that Jesus is a “stumbling block” and therefore very confrontational. We have forgotten that we are told to confront, rebuke and reprove one another in love that we might be moved to repentance.

It is written, “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.” (Psalm 141: 5) A friend may give you unpleasant advice, but it might very well be for your own good. However, a person who does not really care about you, may be willing to tell you exactly what you want to hear, even if it may lead you into danger and harm. Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that when I stray from you that you will do whatever it takes to draw me back to you. Dear God, let me not be so prideful as to reject your discipline and care for me. You have said that you will discipline those who belong to you just as a parent disciplines the child that he loves.

Worship music in our churches has deteriorated to loud clanging cymbals and drums that would drown out the very voices of the angels. I enjoy coming into worship in the attitude of the scriptures- “Clap your hands all ye children, shout unto God with the voice of triumph. Praise Him, Praise Him, Shout unto God with the voice of Praise!” “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Rejoice, rejoice, and again I say rejoice!” And King David ‘danced’ before the Lord. But eventually, the order of worship should lead to an attitude of being on Holy ground to the point when one can even know His nearness and ‘taste and see’ that the Lord He is good. In a continually boisterous atmosphere, how can we ever hope to hear that still soft voice of the Lord when He would speak to our hearts? Some churches boast of how loud their music is and exclaim that their congregation loves to ‘feel’ the beat of the music. Since when did feeling the ‘beat’ become more important that listening for the voice of the Lord as we sing hymns, psalms, and scripture laden lyrics? How can we ‘come into His presence with thanksgiving in our hearts’ if we are more interested in feeling the beat of the loud music? Where is the ‘peace of the Lord’ in all of that?

Some churches are removing the cross from their sanctuaries with the pretense that they want to make their church more comfortable. According to this way of thinking, doing so is for the purpose of creating surroundings in your church that would make it less ‘embarrassing’ or offensive, and more ‘inviting’ and ‘seeker friendly.’ For what reason? Has the symbol of the cross, of the sacrifice and shed blood of Jesus Christ, now become something that should be hidden because it is embarrassing? I thought that it would be a symbol that would ‘draw men’ unto Christ. I thought it was to be displayed proudly as a symbol of faith, hope, and eternal life for any one that would choose to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?

Our pastors and leaders do not bare the sole responsibility for the erosion of our faith. We, the body of believers, have allowed our faith in the Lord to be so diluted by the cares of our own flesh and the ways of the world that it is very hard to see any difference in our lives and the lives of unbelievers. We let our Bibles, if we have one, sit and collect dust. If we worship the Lord at all, we confine such an activity to a very small segment of our lives, giving Jesus a very small nook and reserving the rest of our inner being for SELF.

I know that growing and becoming mature in Christ is a process that occurs from day to day. I know that babies have to learn to crawl before learning to walk and run. None of that can take place if the baby exerts no effort or never practices in order to become better in any of those activities. In like manner, how can we expect to grow in the spirit and become more Christ like if we spend so little time with Him in prayer and in learning from Him through the study of His Word, with His Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into all truth? As the body of Christ, we have become so Biblically illiterate that we don’t even know when our spiritual leaders are reading true scripture to us or some watered down, misrepresentation of it from some new paraphrased version that is so ambivalent that it could be used to promote any agenda of ones on choosing, instead of bringing the message of real truth to the congregation. Whose fault is that? If I point my finger at anyone else, I am reminded that three of my own fingers are pointing right back at me. I take the risk of speaking out, all the while being very aware that I am, and have been, just as guilty, and in some ways, even more guilty, of the very same things of which I speak. God forgive me.

The Lord has told us to ‘be being filled’ daily with His truth by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He has told us to ‘test the spirits’ that we may not be deceived. If it were not possible for us to be deceived, He would not have warned ‘don’t be deceived.’ Remember, not everyone who says they are a Christian are Christians. Let the Word of God be the measure that you use to test all things concerning the truth. Again, the truth of the Lord will guard your heart. There are some leaders and pastors in the church that are having their members sign an agreement that they will not speak against them or suggest that they may be speaking in error, whether intentionally or out of ignorance. If they, and only they, had all of the truth, there would be no need for God to tell each of us to study the Word in order to learn and not be deceived. Pastors have a great responsibility and it is an awesome task that God has bestowed upon them. But we are never to abdicate our responsibility to study the Word for ourselves, as that leaves us vulnerable to believing in our pastors as gods rather than the Lordship of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. What a horrible position and disservice we do to our pastors to insist that carry such a great burden. This same biblical illiteracy and willingness to put faith into any one man or group of men is the same atmosphere that will lead to a one world religion that will look to and accept the Antichrist and his partner, the false prophet.

Satan knows that his time is short, and so he is working all the more to turn people from God and destroy them with any conniving deceitful way he can think of. He can not create any thing, but he can make a counterfeit to replace the truth. Be careful to resist the devil. Stay in the Word of God so you will know the truth, for the truth will set you free. I can tell you by my own experience, that the lies of the devil are many. He knows the Word, but will never obey it. He knows how to sprinkle just enough truth in a lie so as to make the lie appear very true. He will use false teachings to try to lead you down the broad path of destruction at every chance that he gets. I thank the Lord for the insight He gave my husband. I speak of one particular time in our lives. Over a period of time, as Rick took notes and checked what was being taught with what the scripture said, the Lord opened his eyes as to how the minister was distorting and perverting the truth. We eventually left that church. We both loved the fellowship we had with many of the members of the congregation. We had created several strong relationships and hated to separate ourselves from them. Though we still remained friends with some, my husband helped me see that our fellowship with Christ and His truth could not be sacrificed for fellowship with any persons.

Keep your heart and eyes securely rooted and grounded in His Word so that you may not be led astray. Trust in the Lord always, no matter what. God is not limited to, nor defined by your situations, circumstances, or feelings. His ways are higher than ours. He can even take something that was meant for your harm, and turn it around to be for your good. We must be patient and diligent to stay near to Him, and be willing to obey Him letting His purposes be worked out in our lives in His timing.

Some pastors don’t even mention Hell, or if they do it is often with the attitude that it’s only symbolic and not a real place. I can remember, as a four year old little girl, learning of Satan and the fiery pit of Hell. I learned that Jesus did not want me to go there, and He had provided a plan for my salvation. The Cross was a symbol that helped me realize all He and my heavenly Father had done for me. I thought as a child, with all of the limitations of being a child. But both Heaven and Hell were made very real to me. Thank God for the pastors we had then who did not compromise the word of God, being willing to make clear that there are curses as well as blessings, judgments as well as unconditional love on a level that, even the mind and heart of a little girl could understand. The seeds of faith were planted and there would be others that would water and nurture those seeds to blossom and grow throughout the rest of my life. I thank my parents for placing me where I could hear the Word, and I thank God for giving me ears to hear, for “faith cometh by the hearing of the Word. For those who have ears, let them hear.”

If our pastors, teachers, and leaders have become so intimidated by what is politically correct, no wonder the church body is infiltrated with the darkness of the world instead of the light of the Lord. We are becoming less and less the salt of the earth that would demonstrate the sweet savor of the Lord, and more blah, blanched, and void of the fullness of the one true and living God. No wonder the Scriptures tell us that some will go before the Lord and He is going to say “I knew you not and spew us out of His mouth.” You know when something tastes really bad to us, to gag and vomit it back up and out is a natural reaction. God forbid that I should ever continually walk in such a way that the Lord would get sick from my very presence, much less the taste of me. God’s love for us is unconditional, but that does not give us a license to live any way we want and willingly ‘practice’ sin. Again, He knows we are going to constantly struggle against our old sinful nature. But He expects us to listen to the Holy Spirit who will convict us of sin in our lives if we will yield to Him.

If we continue to practice that which is revealed as sin through the Word of God, and we continue rebelliously in that sin without remorsefulness or repentance, we must understand that we bring the consequences of those actions down upon ourselves. We take ourselves out from under the protective arm of the Lord. It seems we want Him when we are in need, but expect Him to let us go our own way at other times. But oh boy, let something go wrong and who is the one we are most likely to blame? With one breath we tell Him to stay in His little corner of our world, and then we have the nerve to ask Him, “Why did you allow this to happen, Lord?” God loves the sinner, but sin is going to have consequences in our lives. Daily troubles are also going to flood into our lives, saved or unsaved, just because we live in a fallen world. The question for each of us is, “Do you want Christ to be your Savior and Lord? Do you want Him to be your friend, to be there and help you through all the trials and tribulations of this life? Where do you want to spend eternity, Heaven of Hell?” The choice is yours and mine.

Other pastors never, or hardly ever, mention that we are to be watching for the signs of His return. They even suggest that this is unimportant and a mere distraction that might prevent us from having the urgent desire to tell others the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you, but for me that is the farthest thing from the truth. Each generation is urged by the Scriptures to keep their lanterns filled and ready for the Lord’s return that we might not be caught unawares and not ready for His return. If you thought Jesus was coming back soon, wouldn’t you feel an even greater urgency to speak out and ring the sound of alarm that much louder? When Noah was building the Ark, he tried to tell others to ‘get ready.’ Instead, they ignored the signs and alarms just as people are doing today. Then when the day the rains started, Noah and his family were closed up in the safety of the Ark. God is the one that closed the doors. It’s not that He didn’t love the people who were now outside the ark of His protection. They had been given the message and plenty of time to make their decision. Rejection of the plan for their salvation was their choice, not God’s.

As it was then, so it is today. God does not want any to perish. He has provided the plan of salvation for all in the ‘Ark,’ faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. He cries out to all to come to His loving arms, ask for forgiveness, and in believing in His Son we would become His people and He would be our God. Mercy, forgiveness, love, eternal life all free- only believe, ask Him to come into your heart. His ears always hear and His arms are forever outreached. Come, just as you are. Read His Word and learn of Him and from Him. Hunger and thirst after Him, and He will never leave you or forsake you. Trials and tribulations in this world you will still have. But He will always be with you and in you through the power of the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide you into all truth.

May all come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and receive the Holy Spirit to indwell you. Those who belong to the Lord can not be taken away from Him, for they are carved in the palm of His hands, and their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But be aware and alert not to receive any gospel other than the gospel of the Biblical Jesus Christ and no other. How do you develop your relationship with your earthly friends? Talking with them, sharing your thoughts and cares with them and theirs with you, spending time with one another. Jesus can be the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Open your Bible; open your ears, eyes, and heart. Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. Won’t you open the door and let Him come in? Sit at His feet and learn from Him. Let His Word speak to your heart and transform you daily more and more into His image. Ask His forgiveness, and He is quick to forgive. Let the joy of the Lord fill you and bring you peace that the world can not give.

Maybe you’ve never known what true love is, or maybe you think you have. I can tell you that God can so fill your heart with such a great love for Him and for others that you won’t be able to contain it. Don’t waste one more moment. Today is the day of salvation!! Jesus loves you. This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Do not be deceived. “Let His Word be a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path.” BE NOT DECEIVED!

Ginger Rahn


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