A short film about life, death & love of a savior.

Written, Shot, and Edited by Strong Films (http://strongfilms.org)
Music by La Liberte (http://lalibertemusic.com/)
Strategy and Produced by Howard Crutsinger (http://twitter.com/howardcrut)

MAIN SITE: “continue the conversation”:http://www.fallingplates.com/
FACEBOOK FallingPlates: http://bit.ly/FPonFBK
TWITTER: http://bit.ly/FallingPlatesOnTwitter
VIDEO by Cru

How Open Theism Helps Us Conceal Our Hidden Idolatries by John Piper

Open theism may help conceal deep idolatry in the soul. One of the great needs of our souls is to know if we treasure anything on earth more than we treasure Christ. Treasuring anyone or anything more than Christ is idolatry. Paul said in Colossians 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you . . . covetousness, which is idolatry.” If covetousness is idolatry, then desiring earthly things more than we desire God is idolatry. That means we must be more satisfied in Christ and his wisdom than we are in all our relationships and accomplishments and possessions on earth.Now how does Open Theism help us conceal from ourselves the idolatries in our souls. It ascribes ultimate causality for many calamities and evils to Satan or the autonomous will of man, not finally to the all-disposing counsel and wisdom of God above and behind Satan. For example, Greg Boyd says:

When an individual inflicts pain on another individual, I do not think we can go looking for “the purpose of God” in the event. . . . I know Christians frequently speak about ‘the purpose of God’ in the midst of a tragedy caused by someone else. . . . But this I regard to simply be a piously confused way of thinking (Letters from a Skeptic [Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994], p. 47).

Similarly, John Sanders writes:

God does not have a specific divine purpose for each and every occurrence of evil. . . . When a two-month-old child contracts a painful, incurable bone cancer that means suffering and death, it is pointless evil. The Holocaust is pointless evil. The rape and dismemberment of a young girl is pointless evil. The accident that caused the death of my brother was a tragedy. God does not have a specific purpose in mind for these occurrences (The God Who Risks [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998], p. 262).

If not “the purpose of God,” what then is ultimate? Either man’s will which is ultimately “self-determining” and can even surprise God (as Open Theists believe), or the will of an evil spirit which is also ultimately “self-determining.” For example, after admitting that “God can sometimes use the evil wills of personal beings, human or divine, to his own ends,” Boyd then says, “This by no means entails that there is a divine will behind every activity of an evil spirit” (God at War [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997], p. 154, cf. 57, 141). “A self-determining, supremely evil being rules the world” (p. 54). “The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in Satan, not God” (p. 54, my italics).

How does this worldview help us conceal the idolatry of our soul? It works like this. Open Theism denies that God is the final, purposive disposer of all things (Job 2:10; Amos 3:6; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). Therefore it asserts that God’s wisdom does not hold final sway (Rom. 11:33-36), and thus God is not fulfilling a plan for our good in all our miseries (Jeremiah 29:11; 32:40). Open Theism implies, therefore, that we should not think about the wisdom of God’s purpose in causing or permitting our calamities. In other words, Open Theism discourages us from asking what sanctifying purpose God may have in ordaining that our misery come about.

But in reality our pain and losses are always a test of how much we treasure the all-wise, all-governing God in comparison to what we have lost. We see this merciful testing of God throughout the Scriptures. For example, in Deuteronomy 8:3 Moses said, “And [God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” In other words, God ordains the hard times (“he . . . let you hunger”) to see if good times are our god. Do we love bread, or do we love God? Do we treasure God and trust his good purposes in pain, or do we love his gifts more, and get angry when he takes them away?

We see this testing in Psalm 66:10-12, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water.” And we see it in the life of Paul. When he prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be taken away Christ told him what the purpose of the pain was. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). The test for Paul was: Will you value the magnifying of Christ’s power more than a pain-free life?

We see this testing in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” God ordains trials to refine our faith and prove that we really trust his wisdom and grace and power, when hard times come. Similarly in James 1:2-3, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. . . . Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Do we love God? That is the point of the test. Do we cherish him and the merciful wisdom of his painful purposes, more than we cherish pain-free lives? That is the point of God’s testing.

Our trials reveal the measure of our affection for this earth – both its good things and bad things. Our troubles expose our latent idolatry.

For those who believe that God rules purposefully and wisely over all things, our response to loss is a signal of how much idolatry is in our souls. Do we really treasure what we have lost more than God and his wisdom? If we find ourselves excessively angry or resentful or bitter, it may well show that we love God less that what we lost. This is a very precious discovery, because it enables us to repent and seek to cherish Christ as we ought, rather than being deceived into thinking all is well.

But Open Theism denies that God always has a wise purpose in our calamities (“God does not have a specific divine purpose for each and every occurrence of evil”), and so it obscures the test of our idolatrous hearts. Open Theism does not encourage us to see or savor the merciful designs of God in our pain. It teaches that there is either no design or that the design of the evil done against us is ultimately owing to Satan or evil men (“The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in Satan, not God”).

Therefore, we may be so angry with Satan and with evil people (which is legitimate up to a point), that we fail to ask whether our anger reflects an excessive attachment to what we just lost. But if, contrary to Open Theism, we must reckon with the fact that God’s wisdom is the ultimate reason we lost our treasure, then we will be forced to do the very valuable act of testing our hearts to see if we loved something on earth more than the wisdom of God.

All of life is meant to be lived to reflect the infinite value of Christ (Philippians 1:20). We show his infinite worth by treasuring him above all things and all persons. Believing in his all-ruling, all-wise sovereignty helps reveal our idolatries in times of pain and loss. Not believing that God has a wise purpose for every event helps conceal our idolatries. Thus Open Theism, against all its conscious designs, tends to undermine a means of grace that our deceptive hearts need.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Asasinarea Pastorului Vasile Gherman acum 25 de ani – The funeral service of Pastor Vasile Gherman who was executed by the Securitate 25 years ago

rodi:

ENGLISH:

Daniel Bulzan:

This is a video recording of the funeral service of Pastor Vasile Gherman who was executed by the Securitate 25 years ago because he did not back off when asked to stop evangelizing in the South-East of Romania. They made it look like an accident, but the bullet wound to his head was clearly seen by people at the funeral. Only 14 months later the anti-communist uprising of December 1989 put an end to the totalitarian regime with its feared Securitate.

Even after the 1989 change of power I heard that the family received anonymous threats discouraging them to ask the authorities for a post-mortem examination and an inquiry into the cause of death. So the family put it to rest, trusting in God’s justice rather in that of humans.

And this is just one of many cases of terror and injustice caused by the communist authorities. Pastor Gherman’s case was high profile and quite unusual as it came so late. Most happend in the 50s – 70s interval.

IN LIMBA ROMANA:

Matei 5:10-12
.
Ferice de cei persecutaţi din pricina dreptăţii,
căci a lor este Împărăţia Cerurilor! 11 Ferice de voi când oamenii vă insultă, vă persecută şi spun tot felul de lucruri rele, (minţind) împotriva voastră, din pricina Mea! 12 Bucuraţi-vă şi veseliţi-vă, pentru că răsplata voastră este mare în ceruri! Căci tot aşa i-au persecutat şi pe profeţii dinaintea voastră!
.
Patorul GHERMAN VASILE din bisericile TOPLET. ORSOVA, TR. SEVERIN( la acea vreme), una din victimele securitatii comuniste. Un moment de aducere aminte.
.
Din video- Serviciul de inmormantare:
.
Astazi, 2 Noiembrie 2013, se implinesc 25 de ani de cand Pastorul Vasile Gherman a plecat dintre noi spre eternitate. Imaginile sunt de la inmormantarea care a avut loc pe data de 5 Noiembrie 1988. Securitatea l-au amenintat pe pastorul Gherman si i-au cerut ca sa isi opreasca activitatile sale de a evangheliza in sud-estul tarii. Pe fruntea pastorului (din sicriu) se vede urma glontului care i-a luat viata.
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VIDEO by Teofil Gherman via Pitica Delia

Originally posted on B a r z i l a i - e n - D a n:

This is a video recording of the funeral service of Pastor Vasile Gherman who was executed by the Securitate 25 years ago because he did not back off when asked to stop evangelizing in the South-East of Romania. They made it look like an accident, but the bullet wound to his head was clearly seen by people at the funeral. Only 14 months later the anti-communist uprising of December 1989 put an end to the totalitarian regime with its feared Securitate. But even after the 1989 change of power, Mrs. Gherman, his wife, received anonymous threats discouraging her to ask the authorities for a post-mortem examination and an inquiry into the cause of death. So the family put it to rest, trusting in God’s justice rather in that of humans.


25 years since Vasile Gherman passed away
danielbulzan 

View original 79 more words

Give Hope: If we could see inside other people’s hearts (Pass this along folks)

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

If you could stand in someone else’s shoes, hear what they hear,

see what they see, feel what they feel.

WOULD YOU TREAT THEM DIFFERENTLY?

Be like JESUS !!!

Ephesians 2:10 (NEW TESTAMENT)

For we are God’s handiwork,created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do.

VIDEO by BestFunVideos1 Photo credit jesuschristblog.blog.com

George Beverly Shea, singer, servant of God and friend of Billy Graham 1909 – 2013 His Biography and the Story behind Shea’s Introduction of one of our most Beloved Hymns: How Great Thou Art

George Beverly Shea 1Did you know that George Beverly Shea is responsible for introducing one of our most beloved Christan hymns ever to the Americans, and subsequently, due to the song being repeated at Billy Graham Crusades all over the world, it is now sung in many different languages and countries. Here’s the story behind the song:

A young minister’s two-mile walk in the rain provided the inspiration for “How Great Thou Art.” The Reverend Carl Boberg of Monsteras, on the southeast coast of Sweden, was 25 years old when he wrote the lyrics of this song after trekking through a thunderstorm from a church meeting two miles away

This great hymn has a history that stretches back over a hundred years. The original song was written by a young Swedish preacher, Carl Boberg, and first published in 1886, under the title O Store Gud. Boberg wrote a poem, not meaning to write a hymn, but later heard it being sung to an old Swedish tune.

More than forty years later, an English missionary, Stuart Hine, first heard the song in Russia. He and his young wife were missionaries to the Carpathian area of Russia, then a part of Czechoslovakia. There, they heard a very meaningful hymn that was a Russian translation of Carl Boberg’s O Store Gud (O Great God).

While ministering in the Carpathian Mountains, Hine found himself in the midst of a threatening storm. The thunder, as it rolled through the mountain range, was so awesome that it reminded Hine of the beautiful Russian hymn that had already become so dear to him. English verses began to form in his mind, verses that were suggested by portions of the Russian translation.

How Great Thou Art is probably the all-time favorite hymn today. Although its origin had roots in Europe, it was not widely known until 1957, when the Billy Graham Crusade in New York City launched it on a never-ending spiral around the world. It was performed nearly a hundred times during those meetings and countless times ever since.

One cannot sing this majestic hymn of praise and adoration without realizing anew the omnipotence of the Creator who did it all. (source http://www.hymnlyrics.org/mostpopularhymns) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How Great Thou Art

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

George Beverly Shea 1909 – 2013

Read the PRESS RELEASE here – George Beverly Shea, Long-Time Billy Graham Associate, Passed Away Tonight

For more than 60 years, George Beverly Shea had carried the Gospel in song to every continent and state in the Union through Billy Graham’s Crusades. As the musical mainstay in Graham’s crusades, Shea was often called “America’s Beloved Gospel Singer,” and was also considered, “the first international singing ‘star’ of the gospel world.” Through music and the proclamation of the Word, Bev Shea and Mr. Graham have shared the saving faith of Jesus Christ to millions.(via)

George Beverly Shea I d rather have JesusGeorge Beverly “Bev” Shea (born February 1, 1909) is a Canadian-born American gospel singer and hymn composer. Shea has often been described as “America’s beloved Gospel singer” and is considered “the first international singing ‘star’ of the gospel world,” as a consequence of his solos at Billy Graham Crusades and his exposure on radio, records, and television. According to the Guinness Book of Records Shea holds the world record for singing in person to the most people ever, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 220 million people. Shea was a big part of the Billy Graham Crusades with his singing, and he still resides with his wife on the same road that Billy Graham resides on in Canada. You can read more about George Beverly Shea here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Beverly_Shea

George Beverly Shea, 1909-2013 Long-Time Billy Graham Associate, Passed Away Tonight

For more than 60 years, George Beverly Shea had carried the Gospel in song to every continent and state in the Union through Billy Graham’s Crusades. As the musical mainstay in Graham’s crusades, Shea was often called “America’s Beloved Gospel Singer,” and was also considered, “the first international singing ‘star’ of the gospel world.” Through music and the proclamation of the Word, Bev Shea and Mr. Graham have shared the saving faith of Jesus Christ to millions.(via)
Shea and Graham in 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 16, 2013 – George Beverly Shea, 104, of Montreat, North Carolina, soloist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), died this evening following a brief illness.

George Beverly Shea 1 Since George Beverly Shea first sang for Graham in 1943 on the Chicago radio hymn program, “Songs in the Night,” Shea has faithfully carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the Union. Graham’s senior by ten years, Shea devotedly preceded the evangelist in song in nearly every Crusade over the span of more than one-half century.

Shea was the recipient of ten Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award in 1965, and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011. He was also a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (1978), and was inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. Shea was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith” in 2008.

“I first met Bev Shea while in Chicago when he was on Moody Radio,” said Billy Graham. “As a young man starting my ministry, I asked Bev if he would join me. He said yes and for over 60 years we had the privilege of ministering together across the country and around the world. Bev was one of the most humble, gracious men I have ever known and one of my closest friends. I loved him as a brother. My prayer for his wife, Karlene, and his children, Ron and Elaine, is that God will strengthen them during this time.”

Born in Winchester, Ontario, Canada, where his father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister, Shea’s first public singing was in the choir of his father’s church. Between Crusade, radio, and television dates in many countries, he sang at hundreds of concerts and recorded more than 70 albums of sacred music. At age 23 he composed the music to one of his best known solos, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

George Beverly Shea 2“Even though Bev was 10 years older than my father, he never acted his age,” said Franklin Graham. “He was absolute fun to be with. Bev was one of the most gracious and unassuming men I have known. He was always encouraging and supportive, a man of deep faith and strong commitment to Jesus Christ.”

Shea is survived by his wife, Karlene, and his children from his first marriage, Ronald and Elaine. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Erma, who died in 1976.

Ron, born in 1948 in Chicago, graduated from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., in 1971. For more than 30 years, Ron has been an associate in Crusade ministry through the BGEA, assisting in preparatory work for evangelistic crusades involving Mr. Graham and more recently for Franklin Graham’s ministry. He is married to the former Kathy Ford.

Details on the funeral service for Shea will be forthcoming.

Visit www.billygraham.org for additional information.

To visit the George Beverly Shea memorial website, click here. (NEWS Source – http://www.billygraham.org/)

 Recently Beorge Beverly Shea celebrated his 104th Birthday

Here’s the article we posted about Shea on February 1.2013.

This video brought tears to my eyes. It’s a video posted by Randy Alcorn of George Beverly Shea singing “How Great Thou Art’, right before his 103 rd birthday. Thanks to Manuela who finds and shares all kinds of good and edifying stuff with her friends!

By the way, if you don’t know who George Beverly Shea is -

george beverly sheaGeorge Beverly “Bev” Shea (born February 1, 1909) is a Canadian-born American gospel singer and hymn composer. Shea has often been described as “America’s beloved Gospel singer” and is considered “the first international singing ‘star’ of the gospel world,” as a consequence of his solos at Billy Graham Crusades and his exposure on radio, records, and television. According to the Guinness Book of Records Shea holds the world record for singing in person to the most people ever, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 220 million people. Shea was a big part of the Billy Graham Crusades with his singing, and he still resides with his wife on the same road that Billy Graham resides on in Canada. You can read more about George Beverly Shea here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Beverly_Shea

How Great Thou Art at the age of 103

Randy Alcorn

But until then (1993)

Here is one from A 1975 Billy Graham Crusade

It is no secret what God can do

Billy Graham – TED talk from 1998 (subtitrare in Limba Romana)

Synopsis: Speaking at TED in 1998, Rev. Billy Graham marvels at technology’s power to improve lives and change the world, but says the end of evil, suffering and death will come only after the world accepts Christ. A legendary talk from TED’s archives. The Rev. Billy Graham is a religious leader with a worldwide reach. In his long career as an evangelist, he has spoken to millions and been an advisor to US presidents.

Pentru a vedea subtitrarea, clic pe View subtitles, apoi alege limba ‘Romanian’

Februarie 1998, Monterrey, California. (27 minutes). Billy Graham talks about the technology we have today, and how there are many problems associated with it, that have not been solved. Billy Graham lists these problems as:

  1. Human evil. Over and over, in the Psalms, David describes the evil in the human race. Why do we have these wars and revolutions in every generation? We can’t get along with other people, even in our own families.We find ourselves in a paralyzing grip of self destructing habits. The Bible says the problem is within us, within our hearts, within our souls. Our problem is that we are separated from our Creator. The problem is not technology, the problem is the person using it. The Bible teaches that we are more than a body and a mind, we are a soul. And, there is something inside of us that is beyond our understanding. That’s the part of us that yearns for God, and something more than we find in technology. Your soul is that part of you that yearns for meaning and life, and which seeks for something beyond this life. It’s the part of you that yearns, really, for God. 
  2. Human suffering. Writing the oldest human book is Job. And he wrote: Man is born under trouble and the saprks fly upward. Yes, to be sure, science has done much to push back certain types of human suffering. But, even here among us, in the most advanced society in the world we have poverty. We have families that self destruct., friends that betray us, unbearable psychological pressure to bear down on us. I’ve never met a person in the world that didn’t have a problem, or a worry. Why do we suffer? It’s an age old question that we haven’t answered. Yet, David said he would turn to God- the Lord is my shepherd.
  3. Death. Many commentators have said that death is the forbidden subject of our generation. Most people live as if they’re never going to die. Technology projects the myth of control over our mortality. But, death is inevitable. It is often difficult for young people to understand that they’re going to die. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes wrote: There’s every activity under heaven. There’s a time to be born, and there’s a time to die. I’ve stood at the death bed of several famous people whom you would know. I’ve talked to them. I’ve seen them in those agonizing moments when they were scared to death. Yet, a few years earlier, death never crossed their minds. A university student recently asked me what is my greatest surprise. I told him it was the brevity of life. It passes so fast.

Two Killed for their faith in Christ in North Korea

north korea north korea 2

Two men were killed, one was shot to death while crossing into North Korea to see his family and share his faith with them, while the other was killed in one of  North Korea’s labor camps. The second man also took Bible classes in China, and 8 months later returned to North Korea, in spite of the danger he faced, by professing to be a Christian. He was arrested and sent into the prison camp, where he was forced to do hard labor, with very little food. Eight months later, it was confirmed that he was dead.

What amazing faith God has placed in these men, who faced certain death, sooner or later. The first one never even made it into North Korea. May God strengthen the North Korean Christians, who are a living and dying witness to the entire world, and who are counting it as gain to give up their lives, for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Two North Korean Christians have died because of their faith, a global persecution watchdog group revealed today.

Opens Doors USA confirmed the deaths of the two Christians, revealing that one was shot while he was leaving for Bible training in China, and that another one died in a labor camp in North Korea.

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/two-north-koreans-killed-for-christian-faith-88516/#SkLAqQU1gaSD3VfT.99

Uploaded by opendoorsuk December 19, 2012.

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The Hidden Gulag

Second Edition

The Lives and Voices of
“Those Who are Sent to the Mountains”

David Hawk

Description: Based on extensive interviews with over 60 defectors and more than 40 satellite photos of North Korean political prisoner camps, the report calls for the dismantlement of the vast North Korean gulag system in which 150,000 to 200,000 are incarcerated.

From Page 158: In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, crimes against humanity are committed against persons sent to the political penal labor colonies. Evidence shows that:

1. Perceived or suspected “wrong-doers” or “wrong-thinkers,” or in some instances, persons with“wrong-knowledge,”123 and/or their family from the DPRK State Security Agency,124 which refuses to acknowledge the deprivation of freedom and refuses to provide information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons with the intent of removing those persons from the “protection of law” for a prolonged period of time.

2. The abducted persons are subjected to deportation or forcible transfer from the area in which they were lawfully present without grounds permitted under international law.

3. The abducted and deported persons are deposited at distant, remote, penal labor colonies or encampments, where they are subjected to “imprisonment or severe deprivation of physi- cal liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law.”129 These abductions, deporta- tions and the subsequent imprisonments all take place without any judicial process. There is no arrest, charge, trial, conviction or sentence, as provided in the DPRK Criminal Code and the DPRK Criminal Procedures Code.

4.The prolonged, indefinite detention of family members is a violation of Article 26 of the ICCPR, “…the law shall prohibit any discrimi- nation and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” The imprisonment of family members amounts to what the ICC Statute terms as “persecu- tion.” Most family members of suspected wrong-doers or wrong-thinkers are detained for the rest of their lives in sections of the prison camps termed “total control zones.”

5. Once cut off from any contact with the coun- try or world outside of the prison camp, including former family and friends, the imprisoned persons are subjected, usually for a lifetime, to arduous forced labor under extremely severe circumstances. This begins with the provision of below subsistence level food rations.

7. Prisoners are regularly subjected to beatings and sometimes more systematic torture for infractions of prison camp regulations and during interrogations.

8.On numerous occasions, prisoners compelled to observe executions (which are carried out publicly to demonstrate to other prisoners the severe consequences of escape attempts and/or non-compliance with camp regulations) …

9. Prison camp officials and guards are regularly able to exact sexual relations with female prison- ers under circumstances that have been judged to constitute rape or sexual violence …

These are just a few excerpts from the  CONCLUSIONS in the Hidden Gulag Report. You can read the entire report here – http://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/HRNK_HiddenGulag2_Web_5-18.pdf

Photo via Google satellite via stormfront.org -

the rear of a secret Gulag (internment camp for Christians)

Video of the week – Paul Washer – Death

Why will you live a life that has no meaning?

Uploaded by  on Apr 8, 2011

Easter songs: True love and Give me Jesus – Christ our eternal hope and salvation!!!! Christ is risen!!!! Hallelujah!!!! Easter songs -

Come close listen to the story
about a love more faithful than the morning
The Father gave his only Son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Fathers broken heart
tears were filling heaven’s eyes
The day that true love died, the day that true love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Search your heart you know you can’t deny it
Come on, lose your life just so you can find it
The Father gave his only son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Fathers broken heart
tears were filling heaven’s eyes
The day that true love died, the day that true love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Now, Jesus is alive

Jesus is alive X4
Oh, He is alive
He rose again

When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Uploaded by 

 

Give me Jesus

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Jesus
Give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

from www.elyrics.net

A Good Friday Meditation

by Bill Lawrence via www.bible.org  Photo via www.samuelandrade.blogspot.com/

  • A passionate prayer
  • A traitorous arrest
  • A trumped up charge
  • A false trial
  • Lying witnesses
  • A denying disciple
  • Washed hands
  • Unrighteous remorse
  • A Place called Skull
  • A remote crossroads of the world
  • Between two thieves
  • Sneering rulers
  • Scoffing bystanders
  • Abusive soldiers
  • Insensitive crucifiers
  • A repentant robber
  • A new mother and her new son
  • Weeping women
  • A worshipping Centurion
  • Three hours of darkness
  • The earth shakes
  • Some living dead
  • A criminal’s cross
  • A sealed stone
  • Salvation!

Salvation? How can the salvation of all mankind happen in this way? In this ignominious, inglorious way? How can this be? That all of the sins of all who have ever lived or are living or will live are paid for on a criminal’s cross? Aren’t criminals most in need of forgiveness? Can criminals even be forgiven? How can a Man who hung on a criminal’s cross pay for all the sin of all people?

And in Jerusalem of all places. Why not Rome, the political capital of the world? Or Athens, the cultural capital of the world? Or Alexandria, the educational capital of the world? Or Ephesus, one of the economic capitals of the world? Or Corinth, certainly one of the sin capitals of the world? Yes, that’s it, why wasn’t sin paid for in one of the greatest sin centers of history?

It just doesn’t make sense. How can this Friday be Good? And how could salvation happen in this way?

No blaring trumpets, no glorious angels, no parades of power and purity, just another Friday crucifixion in the ancient Roman empire. Amazing. Excruciatingly painful, but almost ho-hum for the Roman soldiers. Just one more criminal to throw on the trash heap of history and off we go for a few drinks and a good time of gaming.

Yet salvation did come this way. Yes, it did!

God had worked for thousands of years to provide His salvation. First there was creation, then rebellion, and then rejection, banishment, separation-we were cut off from God and Life. But that’s when God began the redemption process, first with promises, then with prophecies, and all with purpose, the purpose of demonstrating His power through His weakness as He kept His promises and fulfilled His prophecies. His Son became one of us: His Son became His Slave, His sacrifice. our Savior. And in Jerusalem.

God loves weakness because weakness is the greatest way He can show His power. How can an ordinary Man who isn’t even worthy of a second look become our Savior? But He did through the power of God’s weakness in Jerusalem.

How can Jerusalem become the place of salvation? Jerusalem was a world capital in the ancient Roman Empire. One of the greatest structures of all, Herod’s Temple, was in Jerusalem. The city was a spiritual capital in the empire, but Jerusalem was different from the other world capitals. It was . . . well, it was Jewish, quirkish, lavish in its own way, but certainly not in the Roman way. Jerusalem was really a weak world capital, crushed under the Roman heel. But God had made Jerusalem the center of His salvation purposes, the place where all His promises would be fulfilled, an unlikely place populated by some very unlikely people. How like God to do this.

This is my salvation, my deliverance, my eternal life started on earth and slated to last forever. Again, I must ask how can this be? How can a five-year old fatherless and familyless little boy get father, mother, and family in the blink of an eye? How can that little boy receive a call to serve God? How can that little boy grow up to be blessed with mentors and marriage and sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren, and faithful friends full of love for him? How can that be? Only because God glories in taking the weak and making us His vessels of glory.

It has been many years since God saved me and I still serve Him. Salvation never ends; why should service? And may I die as Jesus died: with a cross on my back, resurrection in my heart, and the interests of God on my mind.

What has your salvation been? Can you join with me in this Good Friday season and rejoice in God’s salvation for you? Think of what He has done for you and join me.

John Piper – (1)Job rebuked in suffering

you can listen to the audio sermon here at DesiringGod.org

click photo for source

 

From chapter 4 to 31 Job conversed with his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, about the meaning of suffering. The upshot of it all was that the theory of his friends was unsatisfactory.

The Unsatisfactory Theory of Job’s Friends

They had argued that suffering is basically punishment for sin and prosperity is reward for righteousness (4:7–8). Eliphaz had admitted (in 5:17) that some suffering was chastisement and could be good for us, but it becomes clear that for him this is the exception, not the rule, and that protracted suffering like Job’s could not be explained this way. So he winds up saying to Job, “Is not your wickedness great!” (22:5). Job’s extraordinary suffering can only be explained as the punishment of God for grievous sin.

Job had defended himself all along by saying, contrary to his three friends’ opinion, that there is good evidence from all over the world that the wicked often prosper and the righteous often suffer (21:29–30). And in his case in particular he was not an enemy of God and had not committed any grievous sin that would set him up for such suffering above others.

So Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were not able to sustain their theory in the face of Job’s realism and integrity. Their speeches became repetitive, hostile, and shorter as the conversation comes to a close. Finally, only Job was left speaking.

The Argument Won, the Question Unanswered

He has won the argument. But he has not answered his question. He has shown that suffering cannot be explained by the simple principle of retributive justice, where each person gets what he deserves: suffering for the evil and prosperity for the good. But he has found no other answer.

We are left at the end of chapter 31 with the apparent capriciousness of God. All seems to be arbitrary. God rules the affairs of men. And no doubt he does so wisely (28:12–28). That Job never doubts. But why the righteous suffer—so far he has no answer.

It would be possible to live the rest of our lives at this level of understanding. Many Christians try. We could simply say, “Yes, I believe God rules over the world and controls what happens. I also believe that he is just and wise. And I believe that, though things look capricious and arbitrary in this life, all wrongs will be righted in the age to come. He has shown me his love in Jesus Christ and I know he is the only hope for meaning in life now and for salvation in the world to come. So I will be still and trust God, though I cannot understand his strange ways.”

That is not a bad way to live. But the writer of the book of Job is not satisfied to live that way. And he wants his readers to know that God has not concealed all of his ways. There is more to see of God’s purpose in suffering than we may think.

Elihu Breaks In

So a young man appears on the scene in chapter 32 named Elihu. His speech goes all the way through chapter 37. And here we learn something that neither Job nor his friends had discovered, namely, that the suffering of the righteous is not a token of God’s enmity but of his love. It is not a punishment of their sins but a refinement of their righteousness. It is not a preparation for destruction, but a protection from destruction.

The three friends have been wrong—suffering is not the proof of wickedness. And Job had been wrong—his suffering was not the proof of God’s arbitrariness. Nor had God become his enemy. Elihu has come to put the argument on a new footing.

Five Reasons We Should Accept Elihu’s Counsel

Let’s begin our survey of Elihu’s theology by asking why we should accept it. Many interpreters understand Elihu as no better than Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar. For example, I gathered from one commentator’s 40 pages on Elihu’s speeches the following labels: Elihu is cruel, cold, detached, crass, trite, perfectionist, vain, etc. (Francis Anderson, TOTC).

I admit that there are some things in Elihu’s speeches very hard to understand. And it is true that when you read his speeches, you hear some of the same things the three friends said (they were not totally wrong!). And it is true he is tough with Job, perhaps too tough sometimes.

But there are at least five reasons why I take the words of Elihu to represent the truth as our inspired writer saw it. In other words, I think Elihu gives the first step in solving Job’s problem, and that God then speaks in chapters 38–41 and gives the final conclusive word. Here are the five reasons I think this.

1. His Speech Is Presented as Something New

The words of Elihu are introduced to us in chapter 32 not as a continuation or repetition of what the three friends had said, but as something new. Verses 1–3:

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became angry. He was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God; he was angry also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.

In other words Elihu disagrees with both sides of the argument. So he says in verse 14 to the three friends, “He (i.e., Job) has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches.” So Elihu has no intention of trying to settle the matter the way the three friends did. The writer wants us to listen to something new that takes us beyond the old argument.

2. Six Chapters Devoted to His Words

The second reason that I think Elihu is more than a continuation of bad theology, is that the writer devotes six chapters to his words (32–37).

The inadequacy of the theology of the three friends was demonstrated by the fact that their speeches got shorter near the end, and then died out completely. Bildad finishes with six verses (chapter 25), and Zophar can’t even manage a closing comment.

It would be very strange, then, if Elihu were given six chapters at this point to say all the inadequate things all over again and make no advance on the inadequate theology of these other three friends. Surely this large space given to his words signals that something crucial is being said here.

3. Job’s Response to Elihu

Job does not try to argue with Elihu.

He had been successful in silencing Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, but he does not say one word against Elihu even though Elihu challenged him in 33:32, “If you have anything to say, answer me.” The easiest explanation for this silence is that Job agreed with him. In fact, in 42:6 Job does repent for some of the things he said, which shows that Elihu’s rebukes are not all wide of the mark.

4. God’s Response to Elihu

In 42:7 God looks back over the period of suffering and rebukes Job’s three friends,

After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

But God does not rebuke Elihu. Why not? Probably because Elihu’s words are not in the same class with the words of those three. Elihu’s words are true and prepare the way for the final, decisive words of God. (He claims to be guided by the Spirit of God—32:8.)

5. He Offers Something New and Helpful

Finally, Elihu really does offer a new understanding of the suffering of the righteous that Job and his three friends had not perceived. And his insight does indeed make sense out of the apparently arbitrary suffering that Job and other righteous people go through. Let’s try to learn this morning what this young man has to say.

Elihu’s Rebuke of Job

Elihu thinks that Job has been wrong in some of what he has said—indeed, he sees pride and arrogance in Job’s attitude (see 33:17; 35:12; 36:9). In 33:8–12 he puts his finger on Job’s error:

Surely, you have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard the sound of your words. You say, “I am clean, without transgression; I am pure, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold [God] finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy; he puts my feet in the stocks, and watches all my paths.” Behold in this you are not right.

Job is wrong to claim innocence at the expense of God’s grace. We know that Elihu is right about this because in 42:6 Job does in fact repent: “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” His suffering had driven him to say things about himself that were overly optimistic and things about God that were disrespectful. Even though Job was a righteous man, he was not a sinlessly perfect man. There was a sediment of pride that began to cloud the purity of his life when it was stirred up by suffering.

Elihu’s Explanation of Suffering

At least part of Elihu’s understanding of why the righteous suffer has to do with this residue of pride in the life of the righteous. We see the first explanation of his view in 33:14–19. He describes two ways God speaks to man: by his word and by suffering. These were the days before Scripture, so the word of God takes the form of visions and dreams. He says,

For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man; he keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword.

Man is also chastened with pain upon his bed, and with continual strife in his bones.

Not to Punish but to Save

So Elihu puts the pain of sickness and visions of the night side by side as two ways that God speaks to man for his good. Verse 17 describes God’s purpose: “That he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man, and keep back his soul from the Pit.”

In other words God’s purpose for the righteous in these dreams and in this sickness is not to punish but to save—to save from contemplated evil deeds and from pride and ultimately from death. Elihu does not picture God as an angry judge but as a Redeemer, a Savior, a Rescuer, a Doctor. The pain he causes is like the surgeon’s knife, not like the executioner’s whip.

The “Righteous Sinner”

Elihu explains his view of suffering in one other place, namely, 36:6–15. The helpful thing in these verses is that Elihu makes clear that there is such a thing as a righteous person who still has sin that needs to be revealed and rooted out. To call a person righteous does not mean that the person is sinlessly perfect. There is a “righteous sinner.”

This is helpful because God himself called Job a righteous man in 1:1, and Job won his argument on the basis of his reputation as a righteous man. And yet at the end of the book Job repents and despises himself. So Job is righteous (by the testimony of God!) even though he has sin remaining in him. He is not among the wicked.

Elihu looks at these two groups of people, the wicked and the righteous, and he distinguishes the different roles that suffering has in each. We’ll start reading at verse 6:

He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right. He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, but with kings upon the throne he sets them for ever, and they are exalted.

Now if he had stopped there, he would have sounded exactly like Eliphaz: the wicked suffer and the righteous prosper. There is a sense in which this is true in the long run. But the question plaguing Job is why the righteous suffer in the short run. So Elihu goes on in verse 8:

And if they [that is, the righteous] are bound in fetters and caught in the cords of affliction [so Elihu admits right away that the righteous are not always with kings on the throne; they do suffer], then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly. He opens their ears to instruction, and commands that they return from iniquity.

In other words the righteous are far from sinlessly perfect. There is much of the old nature left in them, and from time to time this old nature of pride breaks out in actual sinful behavior—as it did with Job when he accused God of being his enemy. This is what Job repents of at the end of the book.

Suffering Refines the Righteous

Elihu’s teaching, then, is that affliction makes a righteous person sensitive to his remaining sinfulness and helps him hate it and renounce it. Suffering opens the ear of the righteous (v. 10). The psalmist said the same thing in Psalm 119:71, “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.” There are dimensions of godliness that the righteous can only learn through affliction.

So the new slant that Elihu gives is that the suffering of the righteous is not the fire of destruction but the fire that refines the gold of their goodness. For the righteous it is not punitive but curative.

The Purpose of Suffering for the Godless and the Righteous

Verses 13–15 describe the same contrast between the purpose of suffering for the godless and the purpose of suffering for the righteous.

The godless in heart cherish anger; they do not cry for help when he binds them. They die in youth, and their life ends in shame. He delivers the afflicted by their affliction, and opens their ear by adversity.

Verses 13–14 describe one group of people for whom suffering results in nothing but destruction—they are the “godless in heart.” But then (in v. 15) he describes another group whose ears are opened in their affliction and who experience deliverance by their affliction. These are not the godless or the wicked. They are the righteous. They are the people like Job, who are upright, and fear God, and turn away from evil, and have a blameless reputation. They suffer, too. But the divine purpose is not the same.

How Has Elihu Added to Our Understanding?

How then, we may ask, has Elihu advanced our understanding beyond the impasse between Job and his three friends?

His Two Complaints

We go back to the beginning of Elihu’s speech in 32:2–3. He had two complaints.

  1. He was angry because Job justified himself rather than God;
  2. and he was angry at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.

Elihu has now succeeded in showing why his anger was justified in both cases.

1. He Shows Why Job’s Three Friends Are Wrong

He showed Job’s three friends to be wrong. They said that the only way to explain Job’s suffering was to say that God was punishing him for sin. Elihu shows that this is not the way to explain Job’s suffering.

The righteous do suffer. And their suffering is not a punishment for sin but a refinement of their righteousness. Suffering awakens their ear to new dimensions of God’s reality and new depths of their own imperfection and need. Suffering deepens their faith and godliness. So the three friends of Job are wrong.

2. He Shows Why Job Is Wrong

But Job is wrong too. He had no better explanation of his suffering than his three friends did. His conception of God’s justice was basically the same as theirs. Only Job insisted he was righteous, and so he could not make his suffering fit with the justice of God. He became so exasperated at times that he thought of God as his enemy.

How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why dost thou hide thy face, and count me as thy enemy? (13:23–24)

Elihu said that Job was wrong to justify himself at God’s expense like this (33:8–12). God was NOT Job’s enemy and Job is not as pure as he claims to be. God is in fact Job’s loving Father. He has allowed this sickness to drag on for months because he loves Job, not because he hates him.

The suffering has brought out the hidden sin of pride in Job. Now Job’s ear has been opened to his remaining imperfection. Now he can repent and be cleansed and depend on God as he never had before. His suffering was not only an occasion for God to get glory over Satan (which we saw in chapters 1 and 2); it was also an occasion for God to deepen Job’s insight and trust and godliness.

The Central Lesson

So the central lesson for us from the book of Job today is that the children of God—those who trust in God and are led by his Spirit and have their sins covered by the blood of Jesus—may indeed suffer. And when they do, it is not a punishment for sin. Christ has borne the punishment for our sin, and there is no double jeopardy!

The suffering of the children of God is not the firm application of a principle of retributive justice. It is the free application of the principle of sovereign grace. Our Father in heaven has chosen us freely from before the foundation of the world, he regenerated us freely by the work of the Holy Spirit, he justified us freely through the gift of saving faith, and he is now sanctifying us freely by his grace through suffering according to his infinite wisdom.

Suffering is not dispensed willy-nilly among the people of God. It is apportioned to us as individually designed, expert therapy by the loving hand of our great Physician. And its aim is that our faith might be refined, our holiness might be enlarged, our soul might be saved, and our God might be glorified.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6–7)

Our Father disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10–11)

We were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8–9)

Therefore, count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4)

from © Desiring God

Is God Glad Osama Bin Laden’s Dead? John Piper

 from DesiringGod.org
God’s emotions are complex—like yours, only a million times more. Right now, your emotions about bin Laden are not simple, i.e. not single. There are several, and they intermingle. That is a good thing. You are God-like.In response to Osama bin Laden’s death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that “God does not delight in the death of the wicked.” That is true.It is also true that God doesdelight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

Is God Double-Minded?

This is not double talk. All thoughtful people make such distinctions. For example, if my daughter asks me if I like a movie, I might say yes or no to the same movie. Why? Because a movie can be assessed for its 1) acting, 2) plot, 3) cinematography, 4) nudity, 5) profanity, 6) suspense, 7) complexity, 8. faithfulness to the source, 9) reverence for God, 11) accurate picture of human nature, etc., etc., etc.

So my answer is almost always “yes, in some ways, and no in other ways.” But sometimes I will simply say yes, and sometimes no, because of extenuating circumstances.

Here is why I say God approves and disapproves the death of Osama bin Laden:

In one sense, human death is not God’s pleasure:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . .  For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32).

In another sense, the death and judgment of the unrepentant is God’s pleasure:

Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself.(Ezekiel 5:13][Wisdom calls out:] Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you. (Proverbs 1:25–26)

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)

As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)

We should not cancel out any of these passages but think our way through to how they can all be true.

God is Not Malicious or Bloodthirsty

My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.

Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory. (For further discussion of God’s heart in judgment see the section in The Pleasures of God called “How Is God Like George Washington?”, pp. 147–149.)

When Moses warns Israel that the Lord will take pleasure in bringing ruin upon them and destroying them if they do not repent (Deuteronomy 28:63), he means that those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable.

God is not defeated in the triumphs of his righteous judgment. Quite the contrary. Moses says that when they are judged they will unwittingly provide an occasion for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory (see also Romans 9:22–23).

A Warning

Let this be a warning to us: God is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced. Even on the way to Calvary he had legions of angels at his disposal: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord”—of his own good pleasure, for the joy that was set before him.

At the one point in the history of the universe where God looked trapped, he was in charge, doing precisely what he pleased—dying to justify the ungodly like you and me.

(Adapted from The Pleasures of God, pp. 66-74.)

Zilele trec…

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

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