The Third Person in the Trinity (Holy Spirit-part 1)

Years ago I sat in a Mennonite church service and a visiting preacher preached about the Holy Spirit. I don’t really remember much of what he preached, but it is the only sermon that I distinctly recall hearing teaching about the Holy Spirit. What made an impression on my young mind at that time was that the bishop got up afterward and refuted everything the visiting preacher had preached about. He basically said, “We don’t believe like that in this church.”

I often wondered after that, “What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?”

I noticed that asking about or speaking about the Holy Spirit always seems to make Mennonites very uncomfortable. I don’t particularly relish the thought of writing my own thoughts and discoveries simply for the reason that it upsets many Anabaptists. I also am only learning and feel like I am a novice and am limited in what I can teach or write on this subject. But I will share what I have learned and experienced in the last few years and hope that it will help someone else.

Why we are so against Holy Spirit teaching?

The older generation remembers seeing a movement that wasn’t always very accurate in it’s teaching and brought about some pretty crazy stuff. Because of this, they put their guard up to protect their congregations from the wrong teachings that are out there.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Pastors do need to protect their flocks from teaching that contradicts Scripture. But instead of avoiding the teaching and saying what all is false, they need to replace wrong teaching with right teaching. We can’t throw it all out because of there is bad mixed in with good.

money-bagSuppose someone gave me a large bag of money that was filled with one hundred dollar bills. If I was told that some of the bills were counterfeit, what would I do with that bag of money? Would I throw the entire bag away? What if I would, instead, just simply set the whole bag aside, realizing that while it still had value, I probably should not take the risk of attempting to use it?

This is what many of us have done with teaching on the Holy Spirit. We either throw out teaching about the Holy Spirit altogether or we realize there is value there to some degree and just “set Him aside” because we are afraid we will possibly do the wrong thing or are afraid our discerning skills may not be good enough.

If someone would truly see the value in that bag of money, they could study some real one hundred dollar bills to know what to compare it to. They could get help from others who were more knowledgeable and begin to throw out the bad while keeping the good. People who are in need and desperate enough won’t even think twice about using that money even if it means there is some extra work involved.

How desperate and in need are we for the Holy Spirit in our lives? Most of us Anabaptists are viewed as being self-reliable and self-sufficient. We have orderly lives and we run our communities in a systematic fashion. Our culture appears to be better than other cultures around us as we see lives falling apart in chaos and disorder.

Could this be why we don’t even see a need to teach much about the Holy Spirit? Are we not desperate enough? Do we see ourselves as being so self-sufficient that we do just fine on our own with our tightly knit communities and rule-governed lives?

But what about when it’s not enough?

What about those hundreds and thousands of men and women in our communities that live secretly addicted to porn and other vices? What about those families with molestation hidden from the eyes of others? What about those parents who are only able to “control” their families by anger and physical abuse? What about those husbands and wives who go from counselor to counselor trying to find help for a marriage that just doesn’t seem to get any better? Worse yet, what about those husbands and wives who have given up because there doesn’t seem to be anything more that they can do except to live as two separate lives under the same roof?

Do we just keep on pretending that we don’t have problems because our rules and the way we do things are good enough to at least keep up appearances?

How are we any different than the Jews in Jesus’ day? We have a different set of rules that we abide by than what they did, but many of us don’t seem to have God’s law written in our hearts any more than those of Jesus’ day did. Instead of making sacrifices in the temple for the sins we keep committing, we hide them until we can’t anymore, then we do our penance by making a confession in public and being “put on probation” for awhile.

Why aren’t we able to help those that can’t walk in victory over sin no matter how many guidelines and fences we erect? We simply can’t because that is the work of the Holy Spirit. The whole point of the law was to show us that we cannot do it on our own. Without the Holy Spirit as a living, breathing entity in our lives, we are left to fight the flesh alone with the help of only our rules pointing out all that we are not doing right.

“But we believe in the Holy Spirit! Of course we have the Holy Spirit– all Christians have the Holy Spirit!”

Every Christian has access to the Holy Spirit, but with no teaching about Him, we are like a gardener with a hose in his hand trying to water the garden with the spigot turned off. Why can’t we teach our people about the power that is available? Could it be that our leaders themselves don’t know either? How can they teach what they have not learned?

Jesus spoke of the blind leading the blind and when a leader’s solution for sinful addictions is to proclaim more laws and/or judgement because that is all they can offer, they are only leading them into another ditch.

Is it possible to know whether that “spigot” is turned on?

For most of my life, the little teaching I received about the Holy Spirit was that He was just a quiet influence– much like your conscience. I always wondered how I would know when it was my conscience and when it was the Holy Spirit. And my salvation experience did not bring any change in the voice of my conscience. I felt guilt when I sinned just as I had before salvation, but that “quiet influence” was so quiet, I could not have shared what the Holy Spirit actually did differently in my life.

I remember hearing a missionary ask his audience if they would even notice or be able to tell if the Holy Spirit had left. That question haunted me because I didn’t know how to tell if He was there or not. Maybe sin or lack thereof would be the telling factor? But if I couldn’t tell when He came, how would I be able to tell if He left?

It was years later before I experienced a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Trying to talk about my experiences to other Anabaptist believers brought mixed reactions. I saw doubt, disbelief, and outright scorn; but in the past few years, I have found many others who have also found something–or rather Someone– different than any teaching we received in our Mennonite upbringing. And these with whom I talked to, now lived drastically different lives than they did before this experience. Many found freedom from bondage, but all found life and joy in the Christian walk rather than a life of struggling to obey rules. The Christian walk was no longer a hard thing void of all pleasures. Praying was suddenly different than it had been before. No longer was it a discipline to pray, but rather a time of pleasure and joy– something to look forward to. Feeling His Presence in a real way is “fulness of joy” and “pleasures for evermore”!

How will we know what is real and what is counterfeit?

There are many counterfeit teachings out there. Every time God gives us something good and pure, Satan loves to twist it into something that looks similar and uses it to entrap people into bondage and sin. So how will we be able to tell what is the good and perfect gift from God and what is Satan’s counterfeit? Are we better off just rejecting all things pertaining to the spiritual world altogether?

Satan would like us to think so.

But the fact of the matter is, we were created as spiritual beings who happen to have a physical body. We tend to forget that and think that we are physical beings who just happen to have a spirit. Though we may not understand everything, we can not discard teaching about our spirit or the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said that God is a Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. How can we do this if we have no idea how to?

The Bible is not silent regarding the Holy Spirit. Read it and check to see if any teaching you hear or read is lined up with Scripture or not. Feel free to give me feedback if you feel something I write is contrary to Scripture. I want to speak Truth and write nothing that contradicts God’s Word.

I realize I have probably raised more questions than I have given answers in this post. But for the sake of easier reading, I am once again planning to divide this study into segments. So be patient, more is coming.

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43 thoughts on “The Third Person in the Trinity (Holy Spirit-part 1)

  1. Thanks so much for writing this. I clearly remember at my first baptism, wrestling and wrestling with the question the preacher was about to ask me before he baptized me, which was whether I had the Holy Spirit. I was struggling so desperately with it because I didn’t know him and I didn’t know how to tell if he lived in me. I also don’t remember teaching on it, except for someone saying it’s like a glorified conscience. My second baptism, after I WAS saved and HAD had an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I did not doubt for one moment that He had filled me and was in me and had transformed me. I teach the Word to the kids at Kids Club every Wednesday night. Every time I teach, I share the Gospel. We talk about Christ’s sacrifice and then I always ask, “Did he stay dead?” They shout out “No!” and then tell me how the Holy Spirit rose Christ from the dead on the third day. And then I ask them who lives in them when they believe in Jesus. And they excitedly say, “The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! That’s power!” And it is. I remember the first time I heard the Gospel with the Holy Spirit included. I had always heard the Jesus died and rose again thing, but the filling of the Holy Spirit was not included. But it’s all void without it! And if we really believe the Word is true, than the same Holy Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead really CAN live in us. And like the kids say, “That’s power!” It does seem like it would take quite a bit of power to raise someone from the dead, if you stop and think about it. And that person being Jesus! Let’s not quench the Holy Spirit but instead embrace him! Thanks for the good post and for being courageous enough to address these key issues.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Victoria,
      Thanks for taking time to read and comment. I found it interesting that you were asked if you “had the Holy Spirit” before you were baptized. I don’t think I have ever heard that asked in my circles. You said it right though, if you have an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you don’t wonder anymore. You know it.

      Blessings to you as you teach and share the gospel at Kids Clubs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interestingly some of the best Christians AND the best Mennonites (based on the fruits of The Spirit) that I have ever known, invested most of their lives immersed in Scripture, learning about God and Jesus and accepting Jesus Christ , and living accordingly, that by the time that they passed away they were just starting to talk about The Holy Spirit specifically.

    Freewill is a gift that God/our creator gives to every accountable human (TRUE LOVE-GOD does NOT force anyone to Love Him) I love that The Bible defines what is good (of God) and what is evil (of satan) and that we are told by God to “test The Spirits” etc .

    Truth is; 1. The Bible makes it clear that there is a SPIRITUAL WAR going on, and 2. There are only 2 Spirits (Good vs. evil). This indicates to me clearly that we certainly have our work/responsibilities cut out for us! Whether one is a Christian or not, or whether one likes it or not, every human being deals with these 2 Spirits for a whole lifetime, yearly, monthly, daily and every hour and minute of the day.

    You are right on target Simon, I am entirely convinced Holy Spirit is an extremely important matter!

    Best Regards;
    Delmer B. Martin

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    • Hi Delmer,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. You bring out a good point, that we are to “test the spirits”. That goes along with the idea that we don’t just turn away everything in the spiritual world because of fear that there is some “bad” out there.
      Blessings to you!

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      • When you bring a $100 dollar bill into a store, most stores will test the bill to see if it is real. In the same way we need to be constantly testing the Spirit and make sure it is authentic and lines up with His word. I appreciate you being willing to speak out and not just follow the status quo.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dwight. I appreciate your encouragement and support. I’m definitely no expert in this subject, (more like an abecedarian) but I have been–and still am– seeking hungrily for more and He has been faithful in teaching and pouring out.
      Blessings!

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      • Thank you, Simon! I am hungry for more, too–even as I recognize that the Spirit gives a variety of gifts and not everyone is given the gift of frequently receiving a “revelation” or “word of knowledge.” The gifts are given in such a way that we need each other… which means we better not despise gifts others have that we have not been given!

        Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Frank. I’ve gotten to know and appreciate your blog this past year or two. If my memory serves me correctly, you’ve touched a little on this subject as well. Thanks for all the time you put into your blog. It’s been a blessing.

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I can connect with your message very well! I say Amen! I also was baptized for second time which was hard on my parents! But I appsalutely was not a Christian at the time!

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  4. I’m excited to see this being discussed among the Mennonites! I grew up Mennonite, but my husband and I have made the choice to join a community church several years ago. In our time at this church, we have grown in our spiritual lives more than we had our entire lives up to that point!! People ask me why, and it’s an easy answer. We have encountered the Holy Spirit! We have been taught ABOUT Him, and we have been taught BY Him! We love & highly appreciate our upbringing! But we are sad that this teaching was excluded for most of our lives!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Please keep teaching! I can relate with what you wrote 100% . It took me years to find these truths and many of my close friends thot i was losing my mind. I had to chose to walk in the light or leave fellowship with my mennonite church family. That was almost 20 yrs ago. I still shudder to think what life would be like if i had not found Him!

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  6. Well written. Someone has said that if you would have taken the Holy Spirit out of the early Apostolic church, 95% of the church would have collapsed and today if you removed the Holy Spirit from most churches, only 5% of our churches would collapse.

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    • Thanks Daniel. I believe there might be some truth to that. That reminds me of Watchman Nee who said he was amazed at how much the American church could do without the Holy Spirit.

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  7. Simon,

    I’d like your permission to republish this post on The World Together blog at mennoworld.org. If you’re willing, would you please email me at rstella@mennoworld.org with a one- or two-sentence bio explaining where you live and your Anabaptist connection?

    Thank you.

    Rachel Stella
    Asst./web editor
    Mennonite World Review/mennoworld.org

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  8. I do not believe in so called third person. I believe God the Father as One God and One person, and Jesus Christ is the son of the living God as Peter confessed and Jesus approved Peter saying, that was revealed by Father which is in heaven. And the person of God and the person of Jesus is not one and the same. They are ONE in Spirit as true Christians are one in Spirit. At least 9 place in the NT mentioned that “God raised Jesus.” You ppl are too much on H.S. but actually when He the Holy Spirit come and dwell in you then He will speak about the True God and His son Jesus Christ. This is life eternal to know Thee ONLY TRUE GOD and Jesus Christ WHOM THOU HAST SENT. How can we know THE ONLY TRUE GOD & Jesus? By the Holy Spirit who dwells in us will reveal to us. See, there is NO THIRD PERSON. WE NEED TO KNOW TWO PERSONS! God the Father and Son in order to have eternal life. TWO, TWO, TWO NOT THREE!!! And we know them BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD WHO DWELLS IN US AND MAKE US KNOW GOD AND JESUS.

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    • Hello Sun Im,

      I respectfully disagree with you. You say “..the person of God and the person of Jesus is not one and the same”. I do find some truth within that statement. They are different Persons but all the same Being. But Jesus is not just “God’s Son”, He is God.

      Jesus says in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” In John 14:9 Jesus says, “He that hath seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:10, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” John 14:11, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me”.

      We may not understand all that perfectly, but we need to believe Jesus’ words. Either Jesus is God or He is a liar. In John 8:58, Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

      John 1:1 says, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” Later in verse 14, it says, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…”

      So we know that is also referring to Jesus. So to paraphrase, it would read like this, “in the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” Can we believe God’s Word?

      You are right when you say there is ONLY ONE TRUE GOD. But He is one Being with three Persons. I am also one being (human being), but I have only one person. So it is hard for us to grasp, but He is God and we cannot put Him in a box that fits our finite minds.

      May you find Truth as you diligently seek Him.

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  9. Brother Simon, could you share in brief your experience of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in your life ? It is encouraging to me to read about such things in individuals who are lead by the Holy Spirit. For myself the manifestation is a daily occurrence as the Holy Spirit reveals himself to me as I read the Word of God. I do not follow, or receive, the Holy Spirit because of the culture (or organization) I find myself in. We must keep in mind, organizations are without life. The ORGANISM called the Church of Jesus Christ is abundantly alive. It is universal. It is undivided. The only way into it is through the new birth. The only way out is through spiritual death. Holy Spirit lead people do not live lives of sinless perfection, but a life of repentance.Every member in the ORGANISM is lead by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Is this being over simplistic ? Elmer M. Yoder

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    • Hello Elmer,
      It is true that the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to us as we read the Word, but I believe there is more than just that. I am working on a blog post that I hope will answer some of the questions you addressed in your comment.
      Thank you for your interest.

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      • To broaden it, the Holy Spirit manifests himself throughout the day. He is The Comforter that Jesus spoke about. The Word of God along with the Holy Spirit keeps us, guides us, and strengthens us all the time. Why would a Christian need “more than just that” ?

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      • These are all good things that we have been told, but what does that look like in your day to day life? How does that look differently for you than my Muslim neighbor who says Allah guides him, keeps him, and strengthens him? How could you describe what you have as being different than them?

        Why does a Christian need “more than just that”? I don’t know about you, but I want all He has to offer. I want to learn as much as I can about what the Word says about the Holy Spirit. I want to be willing to receive whatever He offers me. Jesus said having the Holy Spirit on earth would be better for us than having Him here. Why do you think that is?

        The NT is filled with teaching about the Holy Spirit. You mentioned some of the things we know about the Holy Spirit. Here are just a few more: The Holy Spirit gives us gifts, Heb. 2:4; helps us in our weakness Rom. 8:26; causes us to see visions, dream dreams, and to prophesy Acts 2:17-18; teaches us John 14:25; speaks to us John 16:13. I could go on and on, but that is for my some of my next posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Awesome! Yes brother , Jn. 14:15-24. This is the only way we are going to have fire in our churches.I preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit in our church & one of the brethern came to me with what he felt was a revelation , and it was very similar to your illustration of the hose, except his was “there is a kink in the hose , and we as humans are that kink. God help us. Bless you for approaching this very neglected & vital subject.

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  11. Thank you for opening this conversation. I grew up in a conservative backwater of a liberal Anabaptist conference which had for the large part dropped all externals in the generation before mine. As most of these changes were laid at the feet of the “spirit’s leading”, and as my pastor had been given a sort of “sacred charge” to “not let his church go the way of the other churches in the district, ” it is perhaps understandable that I received considerable warnings, while growing up, against seeking any input beyond the witness of scripture. However, this sets up an ironic twist as the bible itself does not spell out quite exactly the “view of itself” that I was taught (verbal plenary inspiration…um…in the orignal manuscript, no need of additional input…so long as you stick with a reliable translation–KJV, as modern translators attempt to water down the scriptures) And further, the bible itself records Jesus’ witness that the Spirit of Truth (not the bible…which surely Jesus could have seen coming) would guide us into all truth. Which sets up a sort of gnat-straining camel-swallowing situation. The bible says far more about the Holy Spirit than it says about coverings, but I heard far more over the pulpit about coverings than about the Holy Spirit (in any positive way…there were the warnings against seeking more, especially against seeking some of the gifts and practices like speaking in tongues which are assumed as a normative christian behavior in the scripture we claim to respect) I am becoming more convinced that without the witness of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to read the bible and find any meaningful critique of what we are already doing. There is always the hidden hermenuetic of our own culture, and a very human “posing in the mirror” by which we are satisfied that we have “covered the bases” and are obeying God. As Jesus put it “a veil is on their hearts.” And the path (the place of tradition / habit / well-travelled and beaten down) is well defended by the Evil One swooping in and snatching up any stray seed the Sower is always sowing to keep any new growth and fruitfulness from happening. May God give us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lots of good things there.

      Unfortunately, there have been many through the ages that use “the Spirit’s leading” as an excuse to do whatever they wish. However, the Holy Spirit will never contradict the Word. But Satan likes to use that as a weapon to turn many away from Holy Spirit teaching.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      • “The Holy Spirit will never contradict the Word” is true…
        and the spirit that contradicts the Word is the evil spirit…and God is NOT a god of confusion:
        Best Regards;
        delmer

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    • PRAISE GOD

      1. The Holy Ghost was directly involved in the miraculous birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
      Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

      2. The Holy Ghost is directly related to/ involved in doing the “Great Commission” !
      Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

      Now for the bad news…Great public debates about the “Third Person” have occurred ever since the Council of Constantinople which took place in 381AD (This was long after the last apostles had died and long before the King James Version of the Bible was first printed.) I am convinced that whenever we hear the debates on the Trinity that it is crucial to remember that there are only 2 spirits (Holy Spirit and the evil one ) and there are only “2 roads” we can travel on… and there is a war going on all around us for our hearts AND minds. Personally I believe that the Holy Spirit is the POWER of God-Gods Power, and even after listening to so many debates I am more convinced than ever that this is true. The great deception and belligerent is satan and anti-christ and evil spirit and so I/we must continue to pray for the TRUTH to set me/us free. Gods Holy Spirit is more critical than ever in our lukewarm and politically correct society. This is especially true when we realize that nowadays even GOD is being debated and often rejected nowadays by the masses.

      Prayer for Discernment is critical! We know that GOD is NOT a God of confusion!

      Ephesians 6:10-12 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

      2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
      5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

      May we all have more of the Holy Spirit and less evil spirit.

      Your Fellow Pilgrim;
      Delmer B. Martin

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  12. Thank you for this article. I am greatly anticipating your series on this subject.

    I want to specifically commend you on your usage of personal pronouns for the Holy Spirit. I am appalled at the number of people who refer to Him as “it,” I truly believe that the depersonalization of the Holy Ghost is a key factor in the blindness that so many in our churches have to His work and person.

    He is a Person just as much as the Father and the Son are Persons of the Godhead, NOT an impersonal influence.

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  13. Appreciate this article and look forward to more. For the record, I am a conservative Anabaptist minister who very much believes in the importance of the Holy Spirit and His control of our lives. I have clearly sensed His presence in my study, preaching, and personal life. Have you read the book “Life In The Spirit” by Robertson McQuilkin? I highly recommend it.
    Blessings to you as you continue this study.
    Gordon Amstutz

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    • Hello Gordon,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. We need more ministers who preach on the Holy Spirit and know the importance of being in His Presence– and I praise God for those who do already! I have not read the book but I will definitely check it out. Blessings brother.

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  14. Pingback: Being Filled with the Holy Spirit (by Simon Fry) – arabah rejoice

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