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Mercy [and] Grace

cheseḏ [and] chānan
While not interchangeable, cheseḏ (mercy) and chānan (grace) are closely related. While mercy is the withholding of what is deserved (e.g., death and hell), grace is the bestowing of what is not deserved (e.g., life and heaven). 2 Samuel 9 gives one of the most graphic pictures in all the Bible of both mercy and grace, with ten startling parallels to the Savior and sinner:
First, Mephibosheth, the son of King David’s friend Jonathan, was crippled by a fall (2Sa_4:4), just as each of us was crippled by Adam’s fall, even rendered “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph_2:1-3).

Second, as David wanted to show Mephibosheth “kindness [cheseḏ] for Jonathan’s sake” (2Sa_9:1), God has shown us mercy and grace for the sake of the Lord Jesus (Eph_4:32).

Third, that kindness was neither deserved nor earned by Mephibosheth, who could do little for himself, much less do anything for the king of Judah and Israel. We in turn deserved nothing but death, and there are not enough works in the universe to save a single soul (Eph_2:8-9; Tit_3:5).

Fourth, Mephibosheth was sought by the king (Tit_3:1; Tit_3:5), again picturing unmerited favor. Likewise, not a single person has ever “[sought] after God” by his own power (Rom_3:11). “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” Jesus declared (Joh_15:16). A dead man can do nothing, so “no man can come to [Christ], except the Father which hath sent [Him] draw him” (Joh_6:44; cf. Joh_6:65; Act_16:13-14).

Fifth, David ordered and empowered servants to fetch Mephibosheth (Act_16:5), a graphic picture of evangelism. God has likewise called and empowered each of us as witnesses (Act_1:8; Mat_28:19-20).

Sixth, a result of all this was that Mephibosheth reverenced the king (2Sa_9:6), a challenge to us to worship Jesus.

Seventh, he became a servant of the king (2Sa_9:6), as are we of Christ (e.g., Rom_6:16).

Eighth, he was given riches and security (Rom_6:7), just as we have spiritual riches (Ephesians 1) and security in Christ (Joh_10:28-29; Rom_8:29-39).

Ninth, he was made a king’s son (Rom_8:11), as we are God’s children (Joh_1:12-13). And tenth, his physical condition was hidden from view when he sat at the king’s table (Joh_1:13). We, too, have been sanctified by Christ (Heb_9:12-15) and “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph_2:6).
Scriptures for Study: If you haven’t already done so, read this wonderful account and rejoice in God’s mercy and grace.


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HEBREW – Mercy

Mercy is a translation of the Hebrew cheseḏ (H2617), which is “one of the most important [words] in the vocabulary of OT theology and ethics,” appearing some 240 times, most frequently in the Psalms. It speaks of kindness, loving-kindness, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, loyal love, and acts of kindness. While the word is used for kindness one person might show another, such as David’s kindness to Mephibosheth, the son of David’s dear friend Jonathan (2Sa_9:7), it is God’s mercy to man that stands out.
If there is a single word, in fact, that could summarize God’s dealing with His people, it would be the word mercy. One example, and by far the most notable appearance of cheseḏ, is in Psalms 136, where the psalmist declares twenty-six times of God, “His mercy endureth for ever.” This psalm is a study in worship, with God’s mercy at the forefront, displaying what wondrous works He has done. Mercy is at the foundation of His character (Psa_136:1-3), the function of His creative work (Psa_136:4-9), the fountain from which all His blessings flow to His people (Psa_136:10-25), and the force behind His Rulership in heaven (Psa_136:26).
The greatest manifestation of God’s mercy, of course, is that of redemption, His saving men from sin (Psa_51:1, “lovingkindness”, Psa_86:13). We are always struck by Jonah’s opposition to going to the unimaginably wicked Assyrians at Nineveh. Because he knew that God was a God of “kindness” (loyal love, committed to the objects of His love) and would save those pagans when they didn’t (in Jonah’s thinking) deserve it (Jon_4:2).
It is also noteworthy that with few exceptions, the Septuagint translates cheseḏ with the common Greek word eleos (G1656), which speaks of “kindness or good will towards the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them.” The whole point of mercy, therefore, is to relieve the affliction that man suffers because he cannot relieve it himself. Mercy is always to the helpless.
With God’s mercy as our model, we are to show mercy to others. “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy [i.e., covenant loyalty manifested in love] and compassions every man to his brother” (Zec_7:9; Jas_2:13-17). Judgment, in fact, is reserved for those who do not show mercy and kindness (Psa_109:16).
Scriptures for Study: What does Psa_103:8 say about God and mercy? What is the prerequisite for God’s mercy in Psa_32:10?


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Neh_8:4-5 provides us with one other aspect of preaching, namely, that a pulpit was built for that purpose. The Hebrew migdāl (H4026), which has forms in other Semitic languages, actually means “a tower.” It’s used for the Tower of Babel (Gen_11:4), a tower built into a city wall (2Ch_14:7), and the watchtower in a vineyard (Isa_5:2).
Many old churches had high pulpits accessed only by a spiral staircase, which is the idea in the Hebrew. Scotsman Alistair Begg recounts a vivid memory from his childhood when he sat in St. George’s Tron Church in Glasgow waiting for morning worship to begin. He writes: “At about three minutes to eleven the beadle [parish official] would climb the pulpit stairs and place a large Bible on the lectern. Having opened it to the appropriate passage, he would descend, and the minister would in turn ascend the stairs and sit in the cone-shaped pulpit. The beadle would complete his duties by climbing the stairs the second time to close the pulpit door and leave the pastor to his task. There was no doubt in my young mind that each part of that procedure was marked with significance. There was clearly no reason for the pastor to be in the pulpit apart from the Bible upon which he looked down as he read. I understood that, in contrast to his physical posture, the pastor was standing under Scripture, not over it. Similarly, we were listening not so much for his message but for its message.”
So central was preaching to John Calvin, that he ordered all altars (which for centuries had been the focal point of the pagan mass) removed from the churches and a pulpit with a Bible on it placed in the center of the building. Everything pointed to that as the center of worship. Similarly, Martin Lloyd-Jones ordered the pulpit to be bolted to the floor at Westminster Chapel in London.
How different it is in many churches today! If the speaker must have a lectern, it is on the same level with the congregation so as not to imply that he is “above them.” Is the preacher better than the people? Should he be elevated above them? Of course not. We do, however, elevate the Word of God and its proclamation as absolute truth.
Dear Christian Friend, I pray that you will seek a church where the Word of God is elevated and its exposition is primary.
Scriptures for Study: 2Ti_4:1-4 are among the last words Paul wrote. What do they say about preaching?


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Preaching [and] Preach (3)

Before leaving this pivotal theme, we should note how preaching relates to worship . It is extremely significant that the people’s response to Ezra’s reading and exposition of Scripture (Neh_8:8; cf. Neh_6:7) was worship (Neh_9:3). This is the climax; everything points to this and has prepared for it. There is nothing of equal importance to the exposition of God’s Word. Take the time now to read Jon_3:2 again, as well as Psa_80:18; Psa_105:1, where call is qārā’, signifying proclamation.
While lost in most churches today, preaching was central to the early church (note the primacy of “doctrine” in Act_2:42) and its immediate descendants. Writing in the middle of the second century, apologist Justin Martyr described a typical worship service of his day: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen.”
Mark it down—the reading and explanation of the Word of God was the absolute center of the worship service. (Note that this statement also refutes the accusation made by modern “Sabbath keepers” that Sunday did not become the day of worship until the fourth century.)
Sadly, this is not the case today. Central today is music, drama, comedy, discussion, anecdotes, or anything else we can think of except preaching. But nothing praises God as does the proclaiming of His Word as absolute Truth.
We should be challenged by these comments by the late pastor and great expositor James Boice: “There is nothing more important for Christian growth and the health of the church than sound Bible teaching. Yet sadly, serious Bible teaching is being widely neglected in our day, even in so-called evangelical churches. Instead of Bible teaching, people are being fed a diet of superficial pop psychology, self-help therapy, feel-good stimulants, and entertainment, and the ignorance of the Bible in churches is appalling.”
Scriptures for Study: Note the centrality of preaching in the following texts: Isa_1:2-31; Matthew 5-7 (Jesus’ sermon is the greatest model of exposition); Act_2:14-36; Act_7:2-60; Act_15:14-21; Act_17:16-31.


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Serve [and] Singing [and] Praise (3)

Continuing our look at Psalms 100, we note the second and third ways to praise God in this wonderful “psalm of praise.”
Psalm 100:1A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Second, “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psa_100:2). Many in modern church ministry think “praise and worship” is reserved for the church building and is comprised of singing and other “religious” exercises. The psalmist tells us, however, that praising God is extremely practical. Serve is ‘āḇaḏ (H5647), a verb that appears almost 300 times, the first of which is in Gen_2:5 (“till”) and 15 (“dress”), where God gives Adam the task of taking care of the garden. It is found repeatedly, then, to portray labor on one’s own behalf (e.g., Gen_4:2; Isa_19:9) or for another person (e.g., Gen_29:15; Exo_1:14).
This tells us something astounding: We can praise God no matter what we are doing. That is precisely what Paul meant when he wrote, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1Co_10:31). Dear Christian, do you dedicate each day’s activities to God? Do you do everything with the attitude that you are praising Him in it? Does the outcome of all your labor give praise and glory to Him? Do you take “gladness” in it (śimchāh, H8057, “joy, rejoicing, pleasure,” July 20)?
Third, “Come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2). Singing is renānāh (H7445), which appears only three other times (Psa_63:5, “joyful”; Job_3:7, “joyful”; Job_20:5, “triumphing”) and literally means “cry of joy.” It is derived from the verb rānan (H7442), “to sing or shout joyfully.” As one might expect, half of its some sixty occurrences are in the Psalms, but another fourteen are in Isaiah. What do we have to sing about? We “rejoice in [our] salvation” (Psa_20:5), “sing aloud of [God’s] mercy” (Psa_59:16), rejoice in His “help” (Psa_63:7), “sing” about His righteous judgment and government (Psa_67:4), and much more.
As Paul declares, there is nothing more indicative of the Spirit-filled life than the expression of song (Eph_5:18-19). Despite popular teaching, music must not be the foundation of church ministry or even the major emphasis. It’s not even mentioned, in fact, in Act_2:42, which lists the activities of the early church; the primary emphasis was doctrine. Singing (not just instrumental music but singing) is important, however, for its purpose is to be a restatement of doctrine. Oh, that we would seek depth in our church music!
Scriptures for Study: What do we have to sing about in Pro_29:6? What is the object of our singing in Isa_24:14?

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Instruments of Praise

Psalm 150:1-6
“Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord,” Psalm 150:6.

What kind of worship does God deserve? What quality of worship would do justice to the infinite excellencies of our sovereign God? As you mull over the answer to these questions in your mind, consider this: the quality of our worship is directly proportionate to the value we place on the objects of our worship.
My favorite NBA basketball team did not do well this year. They barely finished the regular season with a five hundred winning percentage. Consequently, I did not take my family to a game, and we did not watch them on TV as much as usual because there was not much that excited us about them. A few years ago, however, they made the playoffs and won the National Championship, and we could not cheer loudly enough! What was the difference? The quality of our cheers was determined by the value we placed on the team. The same is true in our worship of God.
So, let us go back and answer the first question. What kind of worship does God deserve? The psalmist decrees that, because of the mighty deeds and excellent nature of our God, He deserves the best quality of worship, played on every kind of instrument, accompanied with physical postures and movements from everything in Heaven and earth that is capable of praising Him, including you! It is noteworthy that the book of Psalms—a collection of worship songs—concludes with a final command for every creature, “Praise ye the Lord.”

Will you praise the Lord today?
Mark Clements

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HEBREW – Praise [Hallelujah] (1)

hālal [hālal yāh]
Another predominant theme in Scripture, as well as an integral part of worship, is praise. So central is this activity that we will consider it over the next few days.
The most general Hebrew word for praise is hālal (H1984), from which we get the English Hallelujah; the Greek allēlouia (G239) is a transliteration of hālal with the addition of Yāh (H3050), a shortened form of “Yahweh” (Yehōwāh, H3068, January 8). Hālal yāh, then, means “praise ye Yah,” which occurs some twenty-six times in the book of Psalms. Except for Psa_135:3, it always appears at the beginning or ending of a Psalm, “suggesting that it was a standardized call to praise in temple worship.” (We should interject, as one Hebrew authority insists, while “this word is sometimes spelled alleluia in modern hymnals, in imitation of the mode of spelling that found favor in medieval times . . . The letter H ought certainly to be restored at both ends.”)
Significantly, the original picture in hālal was “to shine,” even “the giving off of light by celestial bodies.” Job used it poetically, for example, as he “beheld the sun when it shined [hālal]” (Job_31:26). Similarly, the Greek doxa (G1391), which is usually translated “glory,” includes the idea of “radiance” (although those concepts were added to doxa in the NT and are foreign to secular Greek).
Hālal ultimately came to mean “to praise, celebrate, commend, or even boast.” Appearing more than 160 times, it sometimes refers to praising of people, such as when the princes of Egypt “commended” Sarah’s beauty (Gen_12:15, the first occurrence of hālal) and when a husband praises his virtuous wife (Pro_31:28).
It is, of course, when used of God (its most frequent use) that hālal takes on its greatest significance. Scripture is permeated with this theme. It is noteworthy that its first appearance in reference to praise of God is in 2Sa_22:4, where David praised God for delivering him out of the hands of Saul, also calling God his Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Shield, Salvation, Tower, and Refuge (2Sa_22:2-3). Is that not, indeed, cause for praise? This song of praise, in fact, is virtually identical to Psalms 18.
Not only do men and angels praise and commend God, but even nature itself does so (Psalms 148). All that we do should praise God (1Co_10:31), even the playing of musical instruments (Psalms 150), and such praise is therefore constant (Psa_34:1; Psa_35:28; Psa_44:8).
Scriptures for Study: In preparation for the next few days’ readings, read Psalms 100 and meditate on praising God in everything.

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HEBREW WORD – Remember






The Hebrew zākar (H2142) occurs some 238 times in the OT, fifty-seven of which are in the Psalms. It is usually translated in the AV as remember, “remembered,” or “remembrance,” but a few other translations include: “mention, think, and mindful.” It means not only to remember but also “to think of or pay attention to.”


The fact that zākar appears so often demonstrates that remembrance in ancient Israel was a major part of properworship (March 1). Psa_22:27, for example, declares: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.” Psa_45:17 also declares, “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever,” as does Psa_63:5-6 : “My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.” We simply cannot worship unless we are remembering.


Indeed, one of the greatest acts of worship is to remember what God has done. The psalmist again declares, “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. . . . who is so great a God as our God?” (Psa_77:11; Psa_77:13; cf. Psa_105:5; Psa_106:7). True worship considers God alone, lifting up only Him, and one way to do that is to recall His great works in the universe and in the hearts of His people.


Another graphic illustration of zākar involves the book of Deuteronomy. Its name literally means “second law,” the book in which Moses restates the Law that he passed down to the next generation. Zākar appears fourteen times, as in chapter 5 to challenge the people to remember and obey God’s commands (Psa_106:15-21).


Of special note is Psa_20:7 : “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” David probably penned this psalm on the occasion of going to war, perhaps with the Ammonites and Syrians (2Sa_10:1-19), who boasted of their many horses and chariots. While most men trust in military might or other earthly power or ability, David trusted God alone. What motivated such trust? Just remembering God’s name, pondering who He really is, meditating on His attributes, character, and reputation.


Scriptures for Study: What is the psalmist’s desire in Psa_45:17? In Psa_63:5-7, what are some of the results in our lives when we remember God?




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Posted: 31 Dec 2013 05:50 PM PST


Kiokee BaptistKiokee Baptist Church



The Southern Baptist Convention begins


1771 – Daniel Marshall moved to Georgia, and by the spring of 1772, he had led a small congregation in the formation of the First Baptist Church of Kiokee and served as pastor until his death in 1784. A Georgia law of 1757 prohibited any worship not “according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England,” but Marshall led a “brush arbor” service. As he bowed in prayer, he was interrupted by a heavy hand on his shoulder and the declaration, “You are my prisoner!” The 65 year old preacher stood to his feet only to hear the young constable inform him that he had, “preached in the parish of St. Paul.” Mrs. Marshall quoted scripture which the Lord used to bring about the official’s conviction and conversion. The Court ordered Marshall to leave the Province of Georgia. His son remembered that he quoted scripture, “Whether it be right to obey God or man, judge ye,” and he went on his way preaching with great power. This boldness bore fruit, for the 21 year old constable, Samuel Cartledge was gloriously saved and in 1777 was baptized. After serving as a deacon in 1789, Cartledge was ordained to preach and ministered in Georgia and S.C. until his death at 93. One of his preacher descendants has referred to him as, the “Colonial Saul of Tarsus.” The Separate Baptists were led  primarily by three men; Shubal Stearns, in North Carolina, Daniel Marshall, in Georgia, and Samuel Harriss, in Virginia. It was because of their labors that caused the proliferation of the Baptists in the south and the growth of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon,  adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 01-02.


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To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer


Editor’s Note:  The Bible uses the generic word wine to describe both fermented (alcoholic) and unfermented grape juice. The context determines which wine is meant. Alcoholic wine is said to be a mocker (Proverbs 20), a poison,  (Deuteronomy 32) and something that should not even be looked at, let alone consumed (Proverbs 23).  The pure blood of the grape (Deuteronomy 32), however, comes directly from the cluster, is a blessing, and pictures the Lord’s blood atonement (Isaiah 65). Jesus Christ turned water into unfermented grape juice, as a symbol of his hour that was to come (John 2). It could not have been alcoholic as that would have contributed to folks getting drunk, which is a sin that the sinless lamb of God never would have committed.



With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around draft beer.


Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it’s an exploratory approach to do church differently.


Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening’s gospel message.


She’s a 28-year-old leasing agent who’s been coming to here in Fort Worth, Tex., for a year, and occasionally leads worship.


I find the love, I find the support, I find the non-judgmental eyes when I come here,” she says. “And I find friends that love God, love craft beer.”


Every Sunday evening, 30 to 40 people gather at Zio Carlo brewpub to order pizza and pints of beer, to have fellowship, and have church — including communion.


Pastor Philip Heinze and his Calvary Lutheran Church sponsor Church-in-a-Pub, whose formal name is the Greek word, Kyrie.


Some patrons are understandably confused. They come in for a brew and there’s a religious service going on in their bar. They expected Trivia Night and they get the Holy Eucharist.


I tell ‘em, it’s a church service,” says bartender Les Bennett, “And they’re, like, ‘In a pub?’ And I’m, like, yeah. Some of ‘em stick around for trivia, some of ‘em take off, some of ‘em will hang out and have another pint or two.”


That’s one of the objectives: A guy sits at the bar nursing a beer, he overhears the Gospel of Luke, he sees people line up to take bread and wine, he gets curious. Phil Heinze says pub church has now become an official — if edgy — Lutheran mission.


I’m not interested, frankly, in making more church members,” Heinze. “I’m interested in having people have significant relationships around Jesus. And if it turns out to be craft beer, fine.”


For most of the folks who attend regularly, this is their Sundaynightcongregation. Church leaders, initially skeptical, are now paying attention. Last month, the regional council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America named Church-in-a-pub a . Next year, it will call a young pastor to expand the idea to other taverns around Dallas-Fort Worth.


I think the institutional church now is getting onboard,” says Heinze, “because there’s a lot of anxiety frankly about the church’s decline and they’re trying to think outside of that institutional box.”


In downtown Portland, Ore., at the stately old First Christian Church, one Saturday night a month they open the parish hall for an event.


There must be 100 people here tonight, most of them young, the kind you rarely see in church on Sunday morning. They’re swigging homemade stout from plastic cups — with a two-beer limit. They’re singing traditional hymns from a projection screen like Be Thou My Vision. And they’re having way too much fun.


Like the crowd at Church-in-a-pub, a lot of folks at Beer & Hymns appear to be refugees from traditional churches.


Between hymns, people can stand up and say anything they want. Jolie Shempert, a transgender person who’s studying humanities at Portland State University, steps up to the mike.


Shempert was raised in a strict church that taught that animals don’t have souls, only people do. But Shempert’s beloved dog, Gunner, has just died.


I want to sing this song in defiance of that because Gunner was my friend. And he has emotions and a personality and I had a relationship with him that’s as real as any relationship I had with any human being.”


The Christian Church Disciples of Christ — a small mainline Protestant denomination — has experienced a steep drop in membership in recent decades. Beer & Hymns is one attempt to attract new people, in this hip, beer-loving city, while keeping a safe distance away from stained-glass windows.


Rodney Page is optimistic. The 78-year-old is a long-time member of First Christian Portland and a Beer & Hymns convert.


I know that initially there were some people who had some trepidation,” says Page. “This church has had a history and background of being anti-alcohol, so it took some convincing for some people. But eventually people went ahead with it and it’s been a great success.”


No one is suggesting that Beer & Hymns or Church-in-a-Pub — or any of the dozens of other beer-in-church events that are popping up around the nation — are permanent. They’re transitional experiments.


Amy Piatt is senior pastor at First Christian Church Portland. She’s a sixth-generation Disciple of Christ and the originator of Beer & Hymns. She says in this postmodern age, what it means to attend church is changing.


It’s probably, in the very near future, not going to be at 10 am on Sunday morning wearing your best shoes and tie or dress,” she says. “It’s going to be something different. I mean, what that is, we are still finding out, we’re still learning together. But it’s still holy, God is still there, and that’s what’s most important.”


To doubters, the Beer & God crowd has this pop quiz. What was the first miracle Jesus performed? Turning water into wine.


The post To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer appeared first on The Trumpet Online.


What have we come to and where are we going?



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