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Your Divine Design - Warning: Beware of Spiritual Gift Abuse!, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
September 27, 2022 6:00 am

Your Divine Design - Warning: Beware of Spiritual Gift Abuse!, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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September 27, 2022 6:00 am

Chip begins a discussion about spiritual gift abuse. What is it? How can you avoid it? And what to do if you are facing it.

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Today's program comes with a caution, red lights flashing.

It's a serious program. We've been talking about spiritual gifts, but in the arena of spiritual gifts, at times they are abused. We're going to talk about spiritual gift abuse and how at times your gift can be leveraged in ways that God never intended it.

And you need to be aware of when that is, where that is, and how to prevent it. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram.

I'm Dave Druey, and we're nearing the end of our series, Your Divine Design. For the past several programs, Chip's been describing the unique person God has made you to be and how the good gifts he's given you fit into his master plan. But as Chip alluded to, even good things can be corrupted when used in the wrong ways, and that's where he's going in these last two programs.

So if you have a Bible, open now to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and let's join Chip for his talk. If you are indeed the spiritual paintbrush in God's hand by your gift, and he wants to dip it into the palette and the colors of his grace so that your life could literally begin to make imprints of grace and change another person's life for all eternity, something that powerful usually has a dark side. In other words, if gifts do that much good, if they're abused, if they're misused, if they're misapplied, they can have a very, very dark side. And I want to start with a case study.

In fact, five quick case studies. These are all true stories, but as I go through these five case studies, here's what I want you to ask. What's wrong with this picture? Is this biblical? And if this happened to me or in a situation, where would my mind go biblically to say, you know something, there's something fishy here. I don't think this is quite right.

You ready? Case study number one. This happened to me as a very young Christian. I was just about to get married. I was probably a Christian less than five years. Teresa and I had gone through a long process of prayer and fasting and getting counsel and we were going to get married in about a month. And I was in a church and an older lady, I mean, you know, when you're 25 years old, everyone's an older lady. But she seemed very holy, dressed very holy, was very serious. And after the service, she walked over to me sort of with an angelic walk. Chip, may we talk?

Sure. I mean, I didn't know the lady. And she went over to the step of the aisle and people were coming by. And then, you know, with this like holier than thou, she grabs both my elbows and looks at me and she said, Chip, I have a word from God for you. Do not marry Teresa. If you do, God will never use your life. And with a, thus says the Lord. Now, I mean, I've been reading the Bible for about four or five years.

No, actually four years. The first year I didn't do very well. I was a Christian, but I couldn't figure out how to get in it and stay in it. And I left confused, doubting.

I mean, I'd worked through the biggest relationship, the biggest decision of my life to that point. Is God speaking to me? Is this how the body of Christ works? Is this a real warning? Is this the enemy?

What's wrong with this picture? I want you to think about it. Because if it hasn't happened to you or someone you know, it probably will, how we answer them.

Case study number two. I was in a large, large church and it was a very happening place and the parking lot was jammed and they had this special speaker. And I was floating around a lot of different groups back in those days because I was a young Christian. I didn't know much about what different groups believed or why, but I was in this very huge auditorium.

And we had stood up and worshiped and it was a very emotional service for 45 minutes or an hour. And then a guy gave a very dynamic, persuasive message and some of it didn't sound kind of right on, but who am I? He knows a lot more than me. And at the very end he stopped. He said, now let me tell you right now.

Let me tell you right now. I have a spiritual gift for every person in this room. Every person in this room, there's a prayer room right behind here. I guarantee if you will get up by faith and leave your seat and get in that room, I will give you a spiritual gift.

Every single person will receive that gift. Will you get up? Will you get up right now?

The music is going to play. And I mean, we started. And it was like, so I got up and I ended up in the back room. And he had this whole formula that you were supposed to do. And if you did this formula and you said what you were supposed to say and believed what he said and did it exactly his way, he guaranteed that you would get this particular spiritual gift. Is that biblical?

What's wrong with that picture? Case study number three. I was involved in campus ministry by this time. I'm coaching, teaching basketball. I'm a teacher at a high school and then at night we would go up on this college campus and I started what was called Gospel of John Bible study. And we'd just take guys with zero background and get a pizza or go play some basketball and just read through the Gospel of John and week by week by week I would want them to discover who is Jesus? What do you think he is?

What's a relation with him like? And this one fellow after about the fourth or fifth week, we've been through John 1, John 2, John 3, John 4 and the Gospel's coming out and this guy knew the Gospel, it was very clear and you could tell he was just angst about it. And I said, do you want to receive the Lord as your Savior? And he said, well yeah. And I said, do you understand this? Well yes.

Have you ever prayed to ask Christ to come into your life? He said, well yes. I said, well what part of this don't you understand? He said, well I've been taught back where I grew up that if you're a Christian, this particular gift will be evidenced and if you don't have this outward evidence then you're not really a Christian. So he goes, I know I'm not a Christian but I want to be. Do you see the abuse?

What's wrong with this picture? Instead of spiritual gifts being something that build up for the common good, he's been told there's one particular gift that's an outward evidence and if you don't have it, you're not even a Christian. And people use that same particular gift to talk about whether you're in right relationship with God or not or whether you have God's power or not. Is that biblical? Is that what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts?

Case study number four. I don't have a spiritual gift. I'm not worthy of one yet. But someday I hope to.

This happened in the Midwest. I was a pastor by this time. And this gal thought she was being very holy and she looked at all the people with the visible gifts and she thought spiritual gifts were a reward for like really good Christians. And if you were a really good Christian and you were in the Bible more and you really prayed and you lived a more moral life than her, that I guess someday, some way if she got really good she could earn a spiritual gift.

But I know I don't have any. And so therefore, result, she's not involved in ministry. She has a very low self-image and she's wasting what God gave her. Is that perspective biblical? What have we learned so far?

Is it possible to be a believer but you don't have any spiritual gift? What's wrong with that picture? Case study number five. I don't care what the Bible says, the young pastor said in front of the group, I am God's prophet for this church and He's revealed that to me.

It's on the West Coast. This was one of the more bizarre ones. And there's a young dynamic pastor and I think he was watching a lot of TV unfortunately. And little by little, and then the groups were beginning to grow and pretty soon he was talking more and more and he got a little farther out and farther out and he was telling people who was going to be healed of what and anybody who wasn't healed just didn't have enough faith so he was never on the line.

And pretty soon he was getting more and more famous and more and more dynamic and the crowds were growing and he just got more and more and more full of himself and it was an area near where I was so I could get some first hand information. And then pretty soon he began to teach some things that were just blatantly, this is what the Bible says but this is what I say. And some people with some good biblical background went to him and said, hey pastor, wait a second here. You know the Bible says this and you say this and this doesn't quite add up. And his response was, I don't care what the Bible says. I'm God's prophet. He's giving new revelation for this church and what I say is the very word of God.

What's wrong with this picture? Is that biblical? And you know, by the way, that sounds wild when you hear it over here but what if you were a person in that church and little by little by little and what if you saw things you didn't understand and what if God actually was doing a lot of good in that church and what if, you know, this is the man who actually was used by God to lead you to Christ. How do you know when people are telling the truth? How do you know when these case studies are maybe partly good, partly bad? When can you begin to have the spiritual radar pop up and say wait a second, something's wrong here. All five of those are cases of spiritual abuse. Can anybody think of some times in your experience of spiritual abuse in terms of gifts?

Now what are the warning signs? I'd like you to open your teaching handout if you will and I want to go over what I think are the ten most common abuses of spiritual gifts. These certainly aren't the only ones but I call these the ten most common abuses of spiritual gifts. I want you to imagine you driving in your spiritual car and on the dashboard you have ten red lights and as you're walking with God and the Spirit of God is filling your life and you're involved in a local church and you're asking God to use you that as you are going through your life if any one of these red lights begins to flash on the dashboard of your spiritual car you're going to say wait a second, you know what I'm not sure but this could be a sign of spiritual gift abuse. Number one, beware when spiritual gifts are used as a means of manipulation, power, or control in personal and or church relationships.

And notice they're all going to start with beware, that's a warning sign. Beware when spiritual gifts are used as a means of manipulation, power, or control in personal and or church relationships. If you have your Bibles, open them if you will to 1 Corinthians chapter 12. And in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 4, it's a common thing we've talked about. In fact, keep your finger in 1 Corinthians 12. A lot of the abuses were happening in the Corinthian church and so a lot of the corrections are going to be there.

Pick it up at verse 4. There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service but the same Lord.

There are different kinds of workings but the same God who works all of them and all men. Now to each one, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. For the common good. Did you notice the repetition of the word same, same, same?

There's unity. When God is working and the Lord Jesus is exalted and the Spirit of God is bestowing gifts and operating in the body of Christ, it's for the common good. It builds people up. The focus is on the Godhead, not on the gifts.

The focus is on what God is doing in the group, not on people's particular passions or bents. Personal control, manipulation and use by gifts are always a sign that abuse is occurring. I don't know where case study number one that lady was coming from but she has no relationship with me. She has no investment in my life and she tells me something that doesn't produce common good but causes me to doubt the biggest decision in my life. Anytime someone comes to you or someone you know and says God revealed to me that you're supposed to do this or do that, a big red light ought to flash on the dashboard.

I don't care who they are. Now it doesn't mean that God never reveals through other people but you know I came to the conclusion that on a major life decision about who to marry, where to work, what job to take, what to do with one of your kids, you would just think that God might want to tell you rather than tell someone else, right? I mean I got a phone. And that doesn't mean that God might not bring someone into your life to say you know I'm concerned about this and here's four or five reasons why you know I've watched this relationship. That's a little different story but this thus says the Lord and people end up in real high power you know I'm very important and often this happens in the leadership of churches.

Second warning. Beware when anyone claims to have the ability to give or bestow any particular gift if you follow their formula. Notice what it says in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 11. He goes on to say all these gifts are of the same spirit and He gives to each one just as He determines. He's speaking of the spiritual gifts. He says God gives or bestows gifts. Literally it's as He wills.

The Greek word is a very interesting one. It means as He chooses after careful deliberation. Remember we said we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. If God has a plan for your life and He's going to gift you to fulfill the plan for your life then the gifts that He gives you are not going to be given through some other person somewhere, sometime, someway.

What have we learned? Is that when the ascended Christ He gave gifts to men and He chooses to give you the gifts that He wants you to have so you can fulfill the purpose that you're called to. And so when someone comes up and basically says hey I have the power to distribute the gifts He's taking the role of the Holy Spirit or she's taking the role of the Holy Spirit. Beware whenever anyone claims to have the ability to give or bestow any particular gift if you follow their formula.

Often they're using the power of suggestion, manipulation, peer pressure. By the way when I went in the back room this is case study number two. Almost everyone quote who goes in the back room does experience something. I'm not sure how much of God. But I can tell you what they do and it's mind control manipulation. They tell you this, this, this, this, this and you've got a whole room full of people and guess what if you're one of the persons that doesn't do what they say guess who feels like they're out of step with God?

You. And so what it is it's a huge peer pressure manipulation type thing and they can get you to do certain things different places. Now this is kind of the wacko element of the body of Christ. Most churches aren't like this at all. I can't tell you how many Christians and even pastors and people that are running around that feel like second class citizens that went in a back room somewhere that heard someone guarantee they could have this gift or that gift and if you don't get it guess who has the problem? No one ever says hey pastor I think you had an off day.

You're only 94% on giving this gift away. I mean it's always the person. You don't have enough faith. There must be sin in your life. And this whole manipulative but you know what you've got to know the truth. And the truth is people don't bestow gifts. God does.

Third warning. Beware when any particular gift is made universal evidence of spiritual spirituality, salvation or other spiritual blessing. Skip down to verses 29 and 30 chapter 12. By the way as I read this too in English we can't quite do it but he's going to ask questions but grammatically you can ask a question and you can you know you can use just a one little word that automatically tells you that it's a rhetorical question and the answer is no.

And that's this case. So it's not these are not just questions are all apostles. It's are all apostles emphatically? No.

Okay so notice what it says. Verse 29. Are all apostles? No. Are all prophets? No.

Are all teachers? No. Do all work miracles? No. Do all have gifts of healing? No. Do all speak in tongues?

No. Do all interpret? He's making the point in 1 Corinthians 12 29 and 30 that no one has all the gifts. Now this is where I'm going to this is gentle but you know let me say this because I've kind of been through both my parents came to Christ through the charismatic movement.

All right. My personal experience I've been in very very word centered ministries but I've had the privilege of traveling all around the world and just teamed up with Pentecostal and charismatic brothers and sisters and I'm going to tell you about 90% you know very balanced great teaching. But there is some teaching in pockets especially I guess what I'd call some older school Pentecostalism or charismatic groups that will teach that if you don't speak in tongues you are not saved or you don't have salvation. Others will teach if you don't speak in tongues you don't have the Holy Spirit. Somehow you have part of Christ and the only way you know for sure if you have the Holy Spirit is if you speak in another language.

And here's my point. Study the gifts carefully. Tongues are a what? We looked at it. It is a ability to speak in another language for the glory of God for the common good in a language you haven't learned. Now what you'll find is people will go to the book of Acts and say well look what happened in the early church.

I would suggest that is descriptive not prescriptive. Yes that is what happened. And can God give an unknown language to evidence the working he did? When the Jews came to Christ unknown language. When the Samaritans half-breeds came to Christ unknown language.

When the Gentiles came to Christ unknown language. But Paul would say it's an outward evidence assigned for unbelievers. And all I'm saying is your view on the gift of tongues should have nothing to do with sanctification or your walk in holiness. Okay it's a spiritual gift. But it is not a spiritual gift that needs to be tied with evidence of salvation or evidence of your spiritual state.

There are people and I've been down this road. There are people that feel like you know I don't have all of God because I don't have this gift. And by the way in some groups it's tongues. In other groups it's other gifts. And so anytime anyone says there's some universal gift that's a sign that really makes you a salvation or a spiritual blessing always have that red light go off and say well wait a second.

That's by the way what the guy was telling us in the back room. Is that if we wanted certain things and if we wanted to know for sure whether we were a Christian you would have this experience. Spiritual gift abuse. God gives the gifts. And God can give the gift of speaking in another language that you haven't learned.

But the purpose is not for some guy to get in front of a group and manipulate people in the back room. Spiritual abuse number four. Beware when the focus of a church service ministry or religious event is on spiritual gifts and their manifestation rather than on the giver of the gifts and his agenda for the church. This is where you hear about the miracle service as advertised. When the focus gets on come see the show.

Here's what you can get. Beware. Miracle service. This is what's going to happen at this service.

So and so is going to happen. And this is where you know they're lying in the parking lot and I've been in places where they charge ten or fifteen dollars for parking. And by the way this is not someone throwing stones out there at somewhere. I've been to all this stuff.

Okay? These are the kind of places where you know 20, 20 and 48 hours are doing research and finding out that the people were walking in but you know you must be very tired. We'll give you a wheelchair while you wait.

And it's amazing. They didn't come in a wheelchair. They got a wheelchair when they get there and then they get up out of the wheelchair and wow look what happened.

These are the kind of places where the guy has the little earpiece and they interview and screen the people. And people that have clearly you know non-psychosomatic illnesses you know what you know over there you know you get over here people that you know lower back pain and you know I think I'm down deep I think my gallbladder stones course they don't have an MRI and they don't know but I'll tell you what you can get people in a frenzy to believe just about anything. When the focus is on the show, when the focus is on the miracles when the focus is on the person, when the focus is on what you can get, get, get you know what just read the Gospels and ask yourself is this how Jesus did ministry? In fact look at Ephesians chapter 4 verses 11 and 12.

It's very, very clear. Just flip back a couple of books right? He gave gifts. Why did he give spiritual gifts? Did he give spiritual gifts so people could you know make a lot of money put on a show, tell people how awesome, miraculous and wonderful their deal is? He gave some as apostles, he gave some as prophets, he gave some as evangelists he gave some as pastors and teachers.

Why? For the work of service, to build up the body for the work of service. Spiritually gifted people are to equip us regular believers and saints so that we can do the work of service until every single Christian grows up into maturity to all the measure of the fullness of Christ. The goal and the role of gifting men and women is to help other believers mature in Christ. And so anytime the focus is off the giver of the gifts and onto the show anytime it's about showmanship instead of Christ-likeness you better have that flashing red light and say, you know something?

It may be electric in the air and people may make all kind of claims but it doesn't pass the test of New Testament biblical Christianity. Warning number five. Beware of comparing your gifts with anyone else. It always leads to carnality. Do not compare your gifts and even as I say that I like to say that I never do.

See, I'm there. But you will because you're human, right? See, remember case study number four? The young gal, she looked at other people's gifts, thought the visible ones were rewards and a lot of the reasons she had abused her gift by neglect is that she made her whole orientation about gifts comparing herself with what other people did have and she doesn't have. I'm going to read a passage that's a little extended but it's so important I think it's worth reading. And have you noticed that we're still in 1 Corinthians 12?

Will you go back a couple books? Some of you may be thinking, you know, I think this Corinthian church sort of had some struggles with gifts because all the directives about how to do it right are in 1 Corinthians 12, you know, part of 13 and 14. He goes on to say 1 Corinthians 12 beginning at verse 11. All these are the work of one and the same spirit and he gives them, the spirit gifts to each one.

How? Just as he determines. The body is a unit. He's going to make a metaphor. Though it is made up of many parts and though all its parts are many they form one body given to human body. We have a hand, we have a head, we have eyes, we have ears, we have feet. And so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one spirit into one body whether Jew or Greek, slave or free and we were all given one spirit to drink. Now the body is made up of not one part but many.

And then here's where he goes through the analogy. If the foot should say because I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body would it not for that reason cease to be any part of the body? I mean, less? No. And if the ear should say because I'm not an eye, I don't belong to the body it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body, kind of would it?

Well, no. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? And if the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them just as he wanted them to be. Don't compare your gift to someone else's. Don't get thinking, and by the way, it's human nature certain churches and certain backgrounds will gravitate to honor certain gifts more than other gifts. I was in one parachurch organization that I'll tell you what if you had the gift of exhortation, man, you were a winner. If you had the gift of service, it was kind of like, well, you know someone does need to pick up the chairs and that would be nice. If you had the gift of teaching or leadership, actually it was threatening to the group because they had a real cookie cutter formula about how they were going to raise up leaders what they wanted was facilitators to lead these small groups and anyone that kind of wanted, hey, why are we doing it this way? Hey, rebellious Ingram, would you just shut up and sit over there and lead your group? I had some pretty strong leadership gifts and I was saying hey, you know, basically this seems kind of dumb.

If you want to get this job done, we ought to go this way. And I was dealing with the pride issues in my life. Now, I had a lot of pride issues in my life, so it wasn't wasted, you know. But I've been in other churches where it's this visible gift, you know and if you can ever get up in front of the stage and so, boy, you know the little kids by the time they're 7, 8, 9, 10 or if a kid in junior high or high school has any speaking ability he's been called of God and they put it out in front of the group and the poor kids don't know what they're saying.

It all goes back to comparing our gifts rather than realizing God's got a perfect plan. And you know something, I don't know that I want to say to my eye or to my ear or to my knee that one's more important. They're all important. They're all interdependent.

And I just want to say I think you'll wrestle with this. There's a passage that's been helpful. 2 Corinthians 10, 12, you might jot that in the corner of your notes where the Apostle Paul will say, when we compare ourselves with ourselves and measure ourselves by ourselves we are without understanding. And I just want to say for your encouragement I think you'll struggle with this your whole life because I do believe that all of us are desperately insecure even as believers.

I mean, I know we're going to grow but we're desperately insecure. Moody Bible Institute, one of my sons went there. They have this big conference they've had since the days of D.L. Moody. And you go into this historic church and it's all wooden and it's round and there's thousands of people and I got to be one of the speakers.

And you know, first night Joe Stoll speaks and man, that was good. And then the next night Tony Evans and then Howard Hendricks and coming up next and you know, and I mean it was like and I'm sitting there going this is ridiculous, Ingram. Why are you so unbelievably intimidated? Why are you having these thoughts in your mind? And I mean, I just had to go off in the corner and say oh God, God what these people think. Everything in my flesh wants to compare myself and every time I do, you know on my really kind of normal days I feel like a weenie and there's these great speakers and then on my not so normal days and I get full of myself I'm thinking well you know I think I could hit the ball like that speaker maybe and if I could go after him it would be okay. And you know then finally you just get the point you go oh God, woe is me. And if you don't speak I don't have anything to bring.

And what I understand is you've gifted each of these people and you have a plan and this week and you want to help the thousands of people in this room and the tens of thousands listening and I want to be a part of what you're doing. And I mean I had to get before God and literally just cleanse my heart and just beg him to help me see I'm desperate for you will you help me? And all I want to say is I don't think anyone gets to the point where you mature your way through that. I think that will be something we'll live with the rest of our days. But don't compare yourself with other people. Don't compare your gift with other people.

God made you unique. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message Warning, Beware of Spiritual Gift Abuse. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series Your Divine Design. Did you know God has given you a set of spiritual gifts or tools to help you fulfill his calling on your life?

Are you actively using them or are you unsure what they even are? In this series Chip will help you discover, develop and deploy your spiritual gifts to make an eternal impact. And if you want to dive deeper into this meaningful topic let me encourage you to order Chip's book Your Divine Design.

It'll really open your eyes to the incredible blessing and responsibility of your unique gifts. To get your hands on this new book go to LivingOnTheEdge.org call 888-333-6003 app listeners tap special offers. Well Chip's joined me in studio now and Chip you've talked a lot in the last week about becoming a monthly partner with Living on the Edge. Could you take just a minute and explain why those types of commitments are so critical to our ministry?

Dave, I'd be glad to. When I look back on the summer I realize we trained thousands of pastors in the three major cities of Mexico and now that's mushroomed to 30 more cities. We've done pastor training in Kenya, Malawi and India.

I mean it's expanded in ways internationally like never before. And then on the home front I'm creating new resources right now for discipleship to reach the next generation and to help pastors here in the United States as well as what I call disciple makers take their walk with God to a new level and as we create those resources it's just created a lot more expense. And so in this season we're asking those people that are on the team or who benefit from Living on the Edge would you partner with us? You know one time gift would be absolutely wonderful but those of you that could on a monthly basis regardless of the amount say I'm in. Each month you can count on me. That makes such a huge impact over the long haul. I just ask you to ponder today and ask the Lord is this something he might want you to do?

And if he says yes let me say in advance thank you very much. We greatly appreciate your support. Well with that Chip let's get to that application we promised. As we close today's program I can only imagine that some of you had pictures go through your mind and you thought back to experiences that you've had and things that were happening in the past and you never thought oh that's spiritual gift abuse.

You probably assumed you did something wrong or you were a bad person. So let me just go through in the end of today's program and review. Number one. Beware when spiritual gifts are used as a means of manipulation power or control in personal or church relationships.

Number two. Warning. Beware whenever anyone claims to have the ability to give or bestow any particular gift if you follow their formula. Third warning. Beware when any particular gift is made universal evidence of spirituality salvation or other spiritual blessing. Warning number four. Beware when the focus of a church service ministry or religious event is on spiritual gifts and their manifestation rather on the giver of the gifts and his agenda for his church. Finally beware of comparing your gifts with anyone else's.

It always leads to carnality. In our next broadcast I'm going to talk about the five more warnings that you need to be aware of. Our goal is to help you, protect you and love you. Thanks Chip. Well before we go, the points Chip just reviewed come right from his message notes, which is a great resource to help you get the most out of every program. It provides you with Chip's outline, all of the scripture he references and lots of fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning. So before you listen again, let me encourage you to download Chip's message notes at livingontheedge.org under the broadcasts tab, app listeners tap fill-in notes. Well join us next time as Chip wraps up his series, Your Divine Design. From all of us here, this is Dave Druey thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge. Music
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-03 01:18:20 / 2023-01-03 01:32:24 / 14

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