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STRANGE FIRE Approaching Reservedly the Prophetic

Oh my children, You invoke me To your gathering, Using words like Worship and waiting, Hearing and bowing down. But I see the Smiles and small talk. Lists, dates and hype. Strangeness in supposed family, Butting and shoving Near the water.


C. Doug Blair, 2012

And I hear talk Of power not sweetness; Learning not loving; Mountains not meekness; Sweet treats not Living Bread. And I sigh. And I inhale That acrid stench Of strange fire. “Watch me� priests Throughout the house Obscuring my Son. But there you have My Holy Name, My nature For the asking. Such precious gifts. Be lifted up! Yes, lifted up As witness to my Sovereign will. My keeping care Embracing still, Regardless.

Easy Sunday

Are you caught in the snare Of the preacher? In the logical loop 2

Of his art? In the comfort and ease Of the teaching? In the flow of his Overhead chart? Is the God you now serve Proving pliant? Are His ways now within Mortal span? Has the Bible become Less a mainstay. As you harvest the truth From one man? Will it prove your escape From the struggle? From the bleary nights Given to prayer? From the battle with Concepts of scripture? And the sense you are Getting nowhere? Does the Cross now appear Isolated? And “reproach� just a word From the past? As you perch on the Threshold of victory, Reassured current clear Skies will last? Such a joyful, new-found Revelation. And a quicker ascent 3

To the height. And a confidence one Now is certain Both in grasp of the Good and the right. But I doubt such convenience Is Holy. Nor the path which, before, Saints have trod. For the trials which they bore In the night-time, Brought a richer sun- rise With their God.

Fear of the Lord

Imagine if a congregation gathered to minister unto the Lord rather than to "get" from Him. Teaching and fellowship would take a back seat to waiting upon the Father's initiative. Songs of adoration and thanksgiving rather than performances. Extended periods of silence and expectation in corporate prayer. More straight reading from the sacred text and less teaching from it. Perhaps initially it would lack the flow and momentum of our eighty minute program packages. But I suspect that with a focus upon the Lord's arrival, the "holy hush" would lead to messages, praise, prophecy and manifestation around the room. There would be a quickening adjustment from the traditional lecturn-audience format. The ministry team would have to be prepared to step back and allow something more participatory to occur. The atmosphere would be one of excitement moderated by courtesy and a respectful weighing of input. Services would contain surprises, comforts, reminders, admonitions and encouragements through the Spirit. Pastor would take on the role of 4

conductor in the concert rather than soloist. The command is for us to assemble and bow down and worship. It is not to attend sessions on self-improvement or the exploration of virtues. As we focus on the glorious account of what Jesus has done and what He is like, we find ourselves being changed into His likeness. We crave His "bread". We appropriate Him and find that progressively He lives through us. The outflow will be in love, service and reproduction. I encourage readers of this post to take some private time with concordance and topical Bible in hand to examine "fear of the Lord" and such passages as Isaiah 58, Psalm 36, Psalm 63, Acts 4 and Acts 10.

Marching Orders to an Early Church 1 Thessalonians 5:

11Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 12And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 16Rejoice evermore. 5

17Pray without ceasing. 18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19Quench not the Spirit. 20Despise not prophesyings. 21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22Abstain from all appearance of evil. 23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cataract Flowing Extempore

It turned out that Craig Randall was expected to take the first Sunday service following his visit with Crosspoint Community Church. Todd and Suzie Bushnell had long planned a holiday trip to Cape Cod and Craig would just have to flow into the next two weeks. He remained charged up from his fillin assignment for Keith and Beth. But there was something causing an edge now as he took the pulpit for Calvary Temple. He put his notes down on the lectern and lowered his head: "Tabbara mas cummi thabatha sin doromannna sic bianti mas coomah." Quietly and to himself that prayer in the Spirit had been offered. Craig in all honesty did not know how to pray here; neither did he know in himself what to say next. "Good morning friends. It is good to be here with you again and to open up together some of God's truth. Turn with me please to John's Gospel chapter six." 6

Craig noted that many did not have Bibles with them, but he had resolved that there would be no use of the overhead screen today. He had the King James Version in front of him and began with verse 44. "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day." He went on with the rest of the chapter (a very long portion it seemed for this group). He paused and looked for about ten seconds at the congregation before reading the following: 63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Another pause. Craig went into prayer aloud. "Father we confess that we have little time for you. We have carved lives for ourselves which seem altogether too important. We have robbed you of opportunities to do as you have wanted with us. We come together and acknowledge that Jesus is the Living Bread, but then we play with other diets, and take in that which poisons. There is too much of the world in us. There seems to be a great divide in our lives between Sunday and the rest of the week. What we do. How we speak. What occupies our thoughts. As in the chapter just read, we have gone away from you. We will not pay the price of being peculiar people before this dark world. We lean on the news, commonplace thinking, and fail to lean on your Spirit. Our eyes are 7

being continually darkened, but we do not even realize the declension. Lord, break us. Show us that our grasp of your revelation is still pitifully small. Let us smell the aroma of your pastures yet untraveled. Let us see the smiles of the newly redeemed. Make us ashamed. Make us hungry. Tear up our agendas. Make us living epistles. We are simply your property. Come in your majesty and in your purpose to re-make and revive these vessels of clay..." The prayer went on for another ten minutes. The people were both irritated and spell-bound. They had never heard Craig in this fashion (although a couple of the elders had had talks with him after meetings). They had never been together in prayer this long. Then it was over and silence followed for a full minute. This was something entirely different. A woman's crying could be heard over in the mid-left of the Body. It started softly and progressed to groanings. Then a word of prophecy: "People take heed to the burdens of my son. He speaks my displeasure. He also speaks my plan, and the light that is coming to you in a very few days. Not because of anything you have done. Not because you are exceptional in this City. But rather because I will have it so, that I might receive glory in this place. The hour is late. Prepare to see my love and my outpour. Repent, that the door might open." Necks were craning that the speaker might be identified. It was Martha, a quiet widow in her early seventies. Not known to be out-spoken. Simply attentive, willing to volunteer, reverent when appropriate and softly smiling. Craig spoke again. "By now you have guessed that there is no sermon this morning. Apparently we have given place to the Master. He indicates that He is about ready to act. Will we repent of our dreadful mixture? The front of the sanctuary is now open. Come forward for prayer and for washing. Let this be the start of something extraordinary between you and Jesus. Now friends, who is ready?" A couple of university students were the first...and it didn't stop.


Moving Into the Prophetic

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul gave a listing of spiritual gifts distributed among members of a fellowship as the Holy Spirit might determine (faith, miracles, healing, prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, tongues and interpretation, discernment of spirits}. They were and are God given and cannot be drummed up by simple desire and application, no matter how earnest. In their zeal to have manifestation of God's power in their midst the Corinthians were tripping over themselves in disorder looking for opportunities to serve and to be seen serving in the perceived gift or gifts. Paul admonished them to do things decently and in order. He made a suggestion that for general blessing of the gathering nothing would prove more beneficial than the prophetic. He told them to covet the "best gift". He then went on to stipulate that none of these gifts could surpass the simple blessing of love and compassion of the Godly sort (1 Corinthians 13) It troubles me that we now see gatherings where the intention is to "train" all those attending in prophecy. As if a body of knowledge and technique must be crammed into the cranium. But gifts are GIVEN! They may be refined with ways and means and testimony and example from mentors. BUT THEY ARE GIVEN. At such conferences and seminars teaching is also offered as to how to "position" oneself to receive his/her prophecy. If a matter has been prophesied it will come to pass unless blocked by disobedience or distraction. One must keep clean of known areas of sin; keeping short accounts in prayer and repentance; thanking the Lord in advance for the blessing, challenge or assignment. The rest is left up to God and not technique. I have often questioned whether Christ had to position Himself in order to see the Messianic prophecies fulfilled in His earth walk. There is another related mis-fire in the prophetic experience going by the name of "prophetic evangelism". The intending witness will be given supernaturally certain facts about the person being addressed. He will quietly and confidentially release this information with the intention of 9

causing his listener to be "wowed" into accepting that his message is from God and that the testimony of salvation/ healing/ sanctification is legitimate. In the vernacular it is referred to as "reading his mail". I think that most of such should be left to the traveling carnival. There may be isolated exceptional instances, but I do not see it as a regular practice of ministry. God prepares the heart. The witness simply presents the germinating seed of the Word. New life is begotten not persuaded. The Holy Spirit operates in love, sincerity and truth. So should any believer intending to pass along pearls of edification, exhortation, comfort or rebuke.

A Voice for Him

I am troubled Lord By what you would Have me announce. It is jarring, Sobering, Quite unlike former News of encouragement, Edification, comfort. Often I have visited Your Body With thrilling Words of destiny, Agenda, untapped potential, Giving the faithful Glimpses of The ‘greater things that They might do’ Because You have gone Unto the Father. Harvest, Healing, Reconciliation, Prosperous venture. 10

Many platforms. But now I see Straightenings, reproach, Desertions, A little flock And I tremble. Is this moment your Time to show The assemblies That without You They can do nothing? To weep at The World taken in? To repent again With wiser eyes, Multiplied scars? From self-assurance Which years back Had evicted Pure, holy, Precious, child-like Beggar’s faith From their midst? Submission to Sovereignty? Compassion for the unlovely? Worship without shopping lists? Will this be the time For serious harvest? In a dark and perverse Generation? Without honest answers. May we find again Your Sabbath? (Isaiah 58) And delight in And through You? Only?


The Tenth Beatitude

John waited patiently in the damp cell for return of his friends from an audience with Jesus. The guard had relatives who had visited John at the waters of baptism. It seemed strange to him that such a well-intentioned man should be locked away as a threat to Herod's family. Only fitting that John should have some liberty in visitors. The Baptist, through long hours of loneliness, rehearsed that day when Jesus had visited the Jordan and the revelation had come. The humble immersion. The appearance of the dove. The voice from glory stating, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." His preparation of repentance had benefited large crowds, and the Nazarene was now on the move exhorting children of Israel to repent "and believe the Gospel". How John delighted in imagining the scene of Jesus under blue skies addressing large crowds on the subject of the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father, and His marching orders. John had sensed no other calling, under the circumstances of his imprisonment, than to pray for the success of the new rabbi. But the staightenings of the jail, the isolation, the inconsistent news of Herod's intentions, the prisoner's diet, the end of the great outdoors all pounded away at the prisoner's resolve. Would his mission prove fruitful? Would he ever know? And so he had instructed the two men to make their way to Jesus and to ask one more time whether He was in fact the Messiah, or should they wait for another? And now ... the sound of heavy footsteps, some mumbled conversation, the jangling of keys and the incoming torchlight. They were here! "Did you see Him? What is the word, friends? Please, quickly!" The iron door groans. The visitors enter. He grabs a shoulder of each with trail-worn withered hands and searches the faces imploringly.


"Brother John, He greeted us with a smile, heard your inquiry, and simply stated, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And BLESSED is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." The prisoner let out a slow sigh, slumping forward as if to hang from their shoulders now. His mind journeyed through the promises of prophetic burden which had been his staple for years in the wilderness. What was the Master's intention? Then it hit him. The words of Isaiah, perhaps the greatest of all prophets: "3Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35) No. John would not be offended. His work was accomplished. His Saviour had come. His soul was secure. Come what may.



Believers will manifest more or less of the influence of the Holy Ghost in their demeanour and lives in proportion to their degree of yieldedness in daily communion. Watching and praying. Note the distinction. The former is an exercise of quiet submission, waiting for the input or leading of the Spirit. The latter pertains to verbalized supplication, praise, seeking, thanksgiving and confession. I have often heard believers of the Pentecostal or Charismatic persuasion suggesting that they are "spirit-filled". They link the experience of Holy Ghost baptism and tongues with this assertion. They refer to a portion of Ephesians 5 in this regard: 17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; The sense of the 18th verse is that we are to be constantly receiving infillings, not that we shall ever arrive at "topped up" this side of Glory. Flesh stops the flow. Spillage comes with sin, fatigue and unbelief. I fear that many people who have not had a personal Acts 2 experience consider our comments as mere pride and vainglory. They shy away from a second work of grace for this very reason. They might even erroneously conclude that Pentecostals consider Spirit baptism as essential to salvation. I must confess that I have yet to meet an individual who is "filled". I have met some who manifest great sensitivity, patience, meekness, reverence, self-control, courtesy and willingness to give, forgive and serve. They have yielded themselves to a greater measure of the Spirit's influence. They manifest His fruit. (They do not all speak in tongues.) It is a love response 14

which requires some quality choices in the believer. But let there be no muddying of the waters over this term "spirit-filled".

Quench Not the Spirit

Conversion to the Christian faith, the acceptance of the apostolic gospel, was not a thing which made little difference to men : it convulsed their whole nature to its depths ; they were never the same again ; they were new creatures, with a new life in them, all fervour and flame A state so unlike nature, in the ordinary sense of the term, was sure to have its inconveniences. The Christian, even when he had received the gift of the Holy Ghost, was still a man ; and as likely as not a 15

man who had to struggle against vanity, folly, ambition, and selfishness of all kinds. His enthusiasm might even seem, in the first instance, to aggravate, instead of removing, his natural faults. It might drive him to speak—for in a primitive church anybody who pleased might speak—when it would have been better for him to be silent. It might lead him to break out in prayer or praise or exhortation, in a style which made the wise sigh. And for those reasons the wise, and such as thought themselves wise, would be apt to discourage the exercise of spiritual gifts altogether. "You contain yourself," they would say to the man whose heart burned within him, and who was restless till the flame could leap out; "contain yourself; exercise a little self-control ;it is unworthy of a rational being to be carried away in this fashion." ...Every one knows that a fire smokes most when it is newly kindled ; but the way to get rid of the smoke is not to pour cold water on the fire, but to let it burn itself clear. If you are wise enough you may even help it to burn itself clear, by rearranging the materials, or securing a better draught ; but the wisest thing most people can do when the fire has got hold is to let it alone ; and that is also the wise course for most when they meet with a disciple whose zeal bums like fire. Very likely the smoke hurts their eyes ; but the smoke will soon pass by ; and it may well be tolerated in the meantime for the sake of the heat. For this apostolic precept takes for granted that fervour of spirit, a Christian enthusiasm for what is good, is the best thing in the world. It may be untaught and inexperienced ; it may have all its mistakes to make ; it may be wonderfully blind to the limitations which the stern necessities of life put upon the generous hopes of man : but it is of God ; it is expansive ; it is contagious ; it is worth more as a spiritual force than all the wisdom in the world. I have hinted at ways in which the Spirit is 16

quenched ; it is sad to reflect that from one point of view the history of the Church is a long series of transgressions of this precept, checked by an equally long series of rebellions of the Spirit. " Where the Spirit of the Lord is," the Apostle tells us elsewhere, " there is liberty." But liberty in a society has its dangers ; it is, to a certain extent, at war with order ; and the guardians of order are not apt to be too considerate of it. Hence it came to pass that at a very early period, and in the interests of good order, the freedom of the Spirit was summarily suppressed in the Church. (By James Denney in The Epistles to the Thessalonians Part of the Expositors’ Bible Series)


I remember reading a book by John F. MacArthur Jr. entitled "The Charismatics". He was summarizing the gifts of the Holy Ghost (charisma) and the four-fold ministry appointments (1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4). At one point he addressed the signs and wonders manifested in the Book of Acts confirming the Word of God, and suggested that these were reserved for the apostles, those who had seen the resurrected Christ and had been sent in the original commission out of Jerusalem. He gives a quote from Paul where that envoy asks the Corinthians, 'Did I not do the works of an apostle among you?' 2 Corinthians 12: 12. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, in wonders, and mighty deeds.


I no sooner read that suggestion than the Spirit quickened to me the recollection of Ananias, a believer (not an apostle) who prayed for the blind Saul after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Read from Acts 9: 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:


14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Here was dear, simple, obedient believer Ananias receiving a vision, going on a valiant mission, testifying to the once murderous Saul, ministering healing and leading to the waters of baptism. He was a charismatic! Now it is suggested that these sorts of manifestations were necessary to endorse the message of the Word until such time as the written record of scripture ("that which is perfect") came into the hands of the Church (1 Corinthians 13:10). If this verse is the only authority for saying that the age of signs and wonders has passed, then take courage fellow hasn't. Do not conclude that I saw no value in MacArthur's book. He very appropriately addressed the presumption of many charismatics in expecting the gifts to arrive without cleanliness, consistency with scripture, compassion or a clear impression from God that He was going to operate. If we are to be endowed with power from on high, it will be in proportion to the purity of input of Christ in us. We are not given any magic wand or incontrovertible mantra. When Jesus spoke of having faith as a grain of mustard seed he was acknowledging that the seed though small, was pure, unadulterated, unmixed. It could and it can move mountains!


The Anointing Respectfully Considered

In the Old Testament the anointing was for the King. It was for the priest and prophet. It was designed to commission and to set apart for holy, Goddirected purpose. It was not earned. It was bestowed. In Psalm 23 we have the image of the shepherd anointing the sheep's head with oil. In a very practical sense, in the hot eastern summer, this act relieved the sheep of the peace-threatening, life-threatening attack of insects upon the eyes and nasal passages. This resulted in calm, comfort and order for the flock. Can not the same be said about the settling influence of the Spirit? Consider Isaiah 61 and the wonderful outworkings of the anointing. In Luke 4 Jesus announced that His ministry was all about the same things: 18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. I would also draw your attention to Peter's sermon to the Gentiles of Cornelius' house at Acts 10:37,38: 37That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 20

This confirms that the marvelous miracle service of Jesus was the result of the obedient submission of a man to the anointing of God for power, doing good and overcoming the Devil. The same anointing is available to the humble and dedicated believer today. What a promise! What an opportunity! Is it not said in the Revelation that we are made kings and priests unto our God? I often hear reference to a believer or minister who is "much anointed". The context sounds the same to me as if one were referring to a professor who is "much published" or a soldier who is "much decorated" or an actor who is "much celebrated". Certain God-given talents have been enhanced by training, education, experience and single-minded dedication. But the anointing is NOT a commodity to improve self. It is not a spiritual "power drink". It has to do with dying as did the ingredients of the holy anointing oil prescribed to Moses (Exodus 30). The name Christ or Messiah means "anointed one". If we would have this appointment, this anointing, we must have Christ, and we must have cast away self-reliance and the distractions of the world, the flesh and the devil. Believer, I exhort you to dedicate yourself to Christ, to the "anointed One and His anointing". Who knows what fruit may come?

Grace and Supplications Zechariah 12: 10And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.


What an appropriate description of the Holy Spirit is contained in this prophecy! The gifted Holy Ghost will be the initiator and sustainer of the Church. He will also accomplish a great ingathering of Jews in the latter days, when in dreadful apocolyptic events they recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah. Spirit of Grace - Every aspect of grace is communicated through the Spirit: repentance, new birth, adoption, wisdom, love and all of its fruit, faith, equipment for service, the Word of God, intimate communion, hope for the future. All of the good things of God being made available in His sovereign disposition. Spirit of Supplications - The Holy Ghost is also the facilitator of effective prayer that we might be heard making supplications which are consistent with the will and the heart and the Name of our Lord. He urges us to cry out our needs again and again to a capable, willing Heavenly Father (read Psalm 50). He also initiates the burden of prayer in the Spirit when our situation cannot be articulated in the words of men (Romans 8:26). What a wonderful two-way street! What a wonderful Royal Telephone! This sensitive, wooing, generous, encouraging Third Person of the Trinity. "Telephone to glory, O what joy divine! I can feel the current moving on the line, Built by God the Father for His loved and own, We may talk to Jesus thru’ this royal telephone. There will be no charges, telephone is free, It was built for service, just for you and me; There will be no waiting on this royal line, Telephone to glory always answers just in time." (Taken from the Gospel song Royal Telephone by Frederick M.Lehman)



Approaching Reservedly the Prophetic