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SPIRITUAL – BUT NOT RELIGIOUS

By Terry Loving

What does it mean when one claims to be “spiritual – but not religious?”

I get thousands of hits on my web site, http://www.spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org, most likely from people searching for “spiritual” – not necessarily “religious” solutions to domestic violence and abuse. The problem with searching for “spirituality” alone, is the danger of embracing beliefs that border on the occult, mysticism, nature worship and the like. Of these things, God condemns – and warns of the penalties for participation in the forbidden.

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It is possible as well that many are not searching for “salvation” as it would seem – but a way to live life on earth in a harmonious manner, while embracing inner peace. People are searching for a relationship with a “Higher Power,” but not necessarily the “God” that Christendom serves. Numerous self-help programs offer the opportunity to acknowledge a “Higher Power” of your choosing, without confessing the one and only True God of Heaven – but as you have come to know Him.

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Given the climate of American churches today, it is understandable that there is a mass exodus from “mainstream religion.” In many cases, people should depart from religious bodies that promote false doctrine, spousal abuse, homosexuality and whatever is contrary to “sound doctrine.” However, too many people depart from God Himself; based on the actions of the “hypocrites” they perceive to be false worshippers of the Almighty, therefore, as the saying goes, they “Throw the baby out with the bath water.” Out go religion, God, Jesus, and anything that appears to be connected with those “crazy” people called “Christians.”

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The Bible speaks of those who are “spiritual” as well as those who are “religious” – or identifying with a “religion.” In our society, many reject the idea of “religion,” especially since it relates to “organized” religion, church attendance, and identifying with a particular group in order to fulfill their “spiritual” needs.

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Of this mindset, there are numerous people who have been hurt by a particular house of worship in some way – emotional or sexual abuse – and they disconnect. On the other hand, we have the spectators. They hear of a church controversy, or read about it in the news and often say, “You see – that’s why I don’t go to church!” No, that is not the reason – you had no interest in the first place, and you were looking for an excuse to fortify your rebellion against God. So there!

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Pulpit Pimps – false preachers of the Gospel are making it very difficult for people to find God. Their desire for greed and power outweighs the salvation of lost souls, and many people can see through the sham, except those that continue to throw money at their feet. This is a classic case of the “blind leading the blind,” and we know a “ditch” awaits them.

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Yet still, is it possible to be a “spiritual” person apart from the Spirit? Is the “Higher Power” as one “comes to know Him” the same as knowing the Creator of life and the world itself? Do the “spiritual – but not religious” have a Savior? A Redeemer – One to seek in times of trouble? Do they have “faith” – if so, in what? Is it dangerous to seek spirituality on your own, making it up as you go along? Are the “spiritual – but not religious” folk just revising the “Burger King” religion – “Have it your way?” Or, are they truly seeking a connection with God, but rejecting mainstream religion?

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“A group of social scientists studied 346 people representing a wide range of religious backgrounds in an attempt to clarify what is implied when individuals describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” Religiousness, they found, was associated with higher levels of interest in church attendance and commitment to orthodox beliefs. Spirituality, in contrast, was associated with higher levels of interest in mysticism, experimentation with unorthodox beliefs and practices, and negative feelings toward both clergy and churches.” 1

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While I am working towards my own conclusions on the matter – which will be posted at a later date – I would be grateful for any feedback presently. Please weigh in, and let me hear from anyone with an opinion concerning, “spiritual – but not religious.”

Thank you!

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1 http://www.iloveulove.com/spirituality/spiritualnotreligious.htm

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“Are there dangers in being ‘spiritual but not religious’?”

http://www.spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org

No portion of this web site may be copied, edited, or used in any form without prior permission.

© Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence Org., 2009
All rights reserved.

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Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Difference Between Wants and Needs

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June 25, 2010
Wants and Needs: The Difference
Psalm 34:8-10

(By Pastor Charles Stanley)

Sometimes people perceive a desire as a necessity. The heart can become so consumed with a craving that fulfilling it feels critical to well-being. Then, when God does not meet the “need,” anger and frustration result.

Believers wondering why they have been neglected should honestly answer one question: “Is my petition essential to accomplishing God’s purpose, or is it only for my enjoyment?” Beyond basics like food and shelter, necessities might include counseling for a troubled marriage or money for a mission trip. If we can’t complete the Lord’s plan without something, then it is a need, and He will answer when we pray for Him to fulfill that requirement (Phil. 4:19).

God is also pleased to satisfy desires that fit within the confines of His purpose and will (Ps. 37:4). The things we long for bring pleasure, entertainment, or a sense of joy. Many are good and worth pursuing, but they become troublesome when we deem them essential for our plans. God isn’t obligated to grant wishes or fulfill any plans but His own. However, He says that those who seek Him won’t lack any good thing (34:10). Pursuing the Lord above all else means making our desires subject to His will. And when we “delight in the Lord” (37:4), He’ll also shape our desires to be most beneficial.

The heavenly Father wants to be His children’s greatest delight—the One in whom fulfillment and satisfaction are found. When that is true in a believer’s life, then he or she does not require a lot of “stuff,” entertainment, or people in order to be happy. Joy is in the Lord.

This article really touched my heart, and I just had to comment as well as share it.

If we are really honest with ourselves, many of our petitions to God need an overhaul. In the past, I had prayed that the married man of my dreams would leave his wife, and marry me instead. I prayed for jobs that were not fitting for me; vocations that would prove to be a waste of my time and money. I prayed for a house on the West side, when God willed that I live on the East side. In fact, I spent much too much time in prayer not really knowing what was best for me at all. Thank God for the intercessions of the Holy Spirit. For we often pray amiss:

“In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings, too deep for words.”

Romans 8:26

Recognizing the difference between our “wants” and “needs,” should be a standard for everyday living. I am learning to apply this principle even when I shop for groceries. When I put my groceries on the conveyor belt, determine something is a “want,” I inform the cashier that I changed my mind. Unfortunately, many people will keep the unnecessary “want” to save face. They are more concerned about what the other people in line will think, “She doesn’t have enough money” – rather than not go over their budget.

In America, many Christians seek personal enjoyment, and use God’s financial provisions for their “wants.” We are privileged to enjoy most things of the world, but we should not love things above God. I never had a problem with materialism, and giving back to the Kingdom of God is not an issue for me. For I understand – finally – “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” (Psalm 24:1)

The desires that are not God’s will for our lives are the ones that get us into trouble. Many times I thought a particular relationship would be in my best interest. I didn’t ask my heavenly Father what He thought about my decisions – I made them on my own. Unfortunately, they often proved very costly. I never asked God for a mate that would be of His choosing, and a union that would bring Him honor and glory. There have been relationships that I did not “need,” and those that I needed, I did not “want.”

I have gone astray; yet my Father through many trials and suffering brought me back home. My wilderness experience has taught me a lot about myself, and my walk with God. As Pastor Stanley states, God is “the One in whom fulfillment and satisfaction are found.” I have searched for both in other people, and in things of the world. I can honestly say that I have found real joy in my life. I may go through difficult trials, and various hardships at times, however, I understand now what “the joy of the Lord” means.

Everything in my life isn’t the way my finite mind would like it to be. But things are exactly the way God intended for them to be. I am taking baby steps with my writing career, and I see the road clearer now. Once I found my place in Christ, and my calling became clearer, then I found inner peace. I no longer look outside of myself for the joy, peace, happiness, and satisfaction that once eluded me. All I require now is that when I awake each day, my God, and my Savior are still with me.

Domestic violence will not be eliminated, until each and every soul that practices violence and abuse finds inner peace. And that peace is only in Christ Jesus.

You can find more devotions by Pastor Charles Stanley at this link:

http://www.intouch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=cnKBIPNuEoG&b=6068735&ct=8397961

http://www.spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

Psalm 34:8

No portion of this web site may be copied, edited, or used in any form without prior permission.

© Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence Org., 2009
All rights reserved.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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SATANIC INFLUENCE

By Terry Loving

When we fail to factor in the spiritual side of life, we also fail to acknowledge the influence of evil. Many people choose to believe in God, but not the devil. The subject of heaven is palatable, but hell is often inconceivable. Believe it or not, we have a Savior in heaven, and an enemy in hell. Satan is the enemy of our homes, instigating, agitating, deceiving and destroying “by any means necessary.”

I know, it is difficult to understand the connection between hell, domestic violence and abuse. However, they are related in many ways. This is not to say that one who abuses or commits violence is evil, however, abuse, violence, rape, murder, theft, and the like are akin to evil doing. Certainly our Lord Jesus isn’t the influence behind such actions. Therefore, there must be another source.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood ( man), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (demons).”

Ephesians 6:12

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“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.

Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

The “blame game” is nothing new.

It began in the Garden of Eden – deeply rooted in satanic influence.  It is a convenient way of transferring the responsibility of an error to another person, circumstances or whatever fits the situation, or offense. In Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve disobeyed God – sinned, and blamed one another. Adam lamented to God, “It was that woman you gave me.” Eve blamed the serpent, “The serpent deceived me.” The serpent, well, he could care less who blamed him, mission accomplished. He was already ejected from Heaven with a sealed fate – hell. It didn’t matter to him at all.

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It is easy to shift the blame in another direction when found to be at fault. Numerous inmates have blamed a horrible childhood for the rape and murders they have committed. As they testify, “My mother didn’t love me,” “My daddy beat me,” or, “We grew up poor” – none of these excuses negate personal responsibility. It is true that some ugly things can happen to us in life; nonetheless, injustice does not excuse ungodly behavior.  It is a natural inclination for mankind to try to wiggle out of a sticky situation by blame shifting – we learned this in childhood. In many situations, it doesn’t matter who takes the weight – Momma, Daddy, or better yet, “The devil made me do it!”

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But here’s the truth of the matter. Satan can only influence our thoughts, actions, and many of the decisions that we make in life. He does not have absolute control over mankind, however, because he has studied each one of us, he knows which buttons lie exposed, and can be pushed under the right circumstances. The devil can only influence what is already within our hearts. He took advantage of curiosity in the Garden of Eden to capture Eve’s attention – she gazed upon the beautiful forbidden fruit – listened to the wrong voice, and found herself caught in the scheme of the devil. Eve exercised her free will, and the devil capitalized on her freedom of choice – hence – The Fall.

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It isn’t that the devil can manipulate humans like a puppeteer by jerking our intellectual and emotion strings as he so desires. No, he knows mankind just as well as God does, and he knows how to recognize our faults and weaknesses, but he is limited as to what he can do in the life of a true child of God. Satan watches and prowls around the earth to find the chink in the armor of God’s children, causing a stumbling, and seeking to destroy (Job 2:1-10; 1 Peter 5:8). I am sure that he hates the fact that a child of God can confess his faults to God, repent, and go in another direction – forgiven for the offense. And this is the very reason that the devil is relentless in his search to find one who is not on guard (1 Corinthians 10:12; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Peter 5:8).

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In Luke 22:31, Jesus informed Simon Peter that Satan wanted to prove that he could find that chink in Peter’s armor. During the Last Supper, (The Lord’s Supper), the disciples disputed amongst themselves about who was the “greatest.” It was Peter that Satan had his eye on at this time:

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:”

The New American Standard Bible (NASB), states that “Satan has demanded permission…”

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Satan does not have absolute control over mankind as previously stated. He must “ask” for permission, and in some cases he may “demand” permission to “test the sons of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:18). We will elaborate on this point later on. When Satan set his sights on Peter to cause him to stumble, Peter himself was “the wheat, his self-confidence the chaff.” Peter had a worldly ambition to be the “greatest” among the disciples of Jesus, but he soon found himself denying our Lord, not once, but three times. It was Peter’s ambition that Satan focused on, and caused him to fall. Praise is to God, Peter repented, and he was restored.

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When it comes to domestic violence and abuse, it is the contents of our hearts that Satan utilizes to wreck havoc. If one is prone to anger, and violence – this is what the devil will exploit. How? He will instigate situations that will cause a child of God much grief and heartache. One such way is via relationships. You meet a man that claims to love God deeply, and everything seems just peachy in the beginning. Once the honeymoon is over, and sometimes long before then, the abuse and violence commences. In this case, the devil knows when we are at our weakest, and long for companionship. When we run ahead of God, and seek to eliminate our loneliness on our own, we find nothing but trouble. If we are impatient, and do not exercise our faith that God will bring us a mate, in His own time, Satan will be more than happy to send you a substitute – a delusion.

THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE

If you ever watched the movie, The Devil’s Advocate,” you will get a real sense of what this post is about – the influence of evil. The first time I watched it, I got through it. I concluded that it was a bit too satanic for my taste, and I decided not to watch it again even though I owned it. Well, I watched it on television last night, and it was great timing for this subject. My eyes were opened to the subtle tactics of the devil. Truth can be found just about anywhere. There is a lot of truth in this movie.

Satan (John Milton) – feeds on the vanity of a hot shot lawyer from Florida. If there ever was a man whose heart was filled with pride over his “win-win” career, it was Kevin Lomax – he never lost a case. In fact, he stated near the end of the movie, “I always win, that’s what I do.” The reality is Kevin won cases for guilty clients – he knew their guilt – fought for their freedom in spite of – for money and fame. Kevin was also a lawyer who cheated to win his cases. He confessed to Satan that he had spent the “last five years” listening to jury deliberations through the men’s room wall. So what does Satan see in Kevin? The devil, Satan, Lucifer, saw a chance to set Kevin up for destruction. In fact, he planned to completely destroy his life, and drive his wife to insanity and suicide. It wasn’t until his life had fallen apart that Kevin realized that he was dealing with something much bigger than himself.

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The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, “…our wrestling is not against flesh and blood…” In the movie, Satan was disguised as a successful lawyer, intelligent, and capable of giving Kevin anything he desired. Outwardly, he appeared to be someone that admired Kevin’s ambition, and wanted to promote him. Inwardly, he was an angel of light (Matthew 4:9), befriending Kevin – setting him up for destruction.

While grooming Kevin for success, Satan stated to him, “Pressure changes everything.” At first, everything was going well with the move to New York. Kevin and his wife were raised in country life, and the lure of the Big Apple was very exciting – at first. As the demonic influences started to take over their lives, Kevin’s wife, Mary Anne, was going downhill fast. But Kevin was on the fast track, and he sacrificed the welfare of his wife for power and wealth. He even told Satan that he didn’t want to end up “hating his wife if she got well.” Kevin felt that if he backed off from the big case that he was working on, and his wife suddenly became normal again, he would hate her because she would have caused him to miss his chance at a huge stroke to his ego.

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As the story progressed, Mary Anne was committed to an asylum, and eventually killed herself. When Kevin’s mother confessed that John Milton (Satan) was his father, Kevin confronted him. For years, Satan was watching Kevin’s life for an opportunity to have his son become a part of his hellish family. The vanity in Kevin’s heart would be the entrance key for Milton to trap him in a life of luxury and success.

During the confrontation, Satan (Milton), confessed, “I set the stage; you pulled the strings – free will.” He also told Kevin, “Maybe it was your time to lose.” Kevin was full of self-love and Satan used that attribute to wreck his life. In fact, Satan stated, “Vanity is my favorite sin.”

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With the death of his wife, guilt began to set in as Satan reminded him that he tried to tell Kevin to “take care of his wife.” Of course, it was a set up from the beginning, for Satan knew that the desire to win such a huge case couldn’t be passed over. Kevin placed his wife’s welfare on the back burner, and in the end, the guilt caused him to take his own life. Satan smugly stated, “Love is overrated.”

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And of course, Satan tried to discredit God in the end. He said that God was a “prankster” that liked to watch our trials for “amusement.” He also called God a “sadist,” but of himself, a “humanist.” These next statements are very timely for our day, “I’m peaking now!” And, “It’s my time now!” In addition to these declarations, Satan offered Kevin even more of the world that he controlled – run the law firm, more acquittals (of the guilty), and be a part of his family by having intercourse with his step-sister, a demon. Satan’s ultimate use for Kevin was to impregnate his step-sister, and she would give birth to the “Anti-Christ.” Kevin chose to shoot himself in the head.

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In the end, all the aforementioned was played out in Kevin’s mind while in the men’s restroom. He was about to acquit a guilty man of child molestation charges, but after all that he experienced from the glimpse of his future, he chose to “do the right thing.” He fired himself as the child molesters’ attorney even in the face of being disbarred. He walked away from the trial with his wife, and turned down the deal the devil offered him – or so he thought. The newspaper reporter hounded him for a story, and was given a final “OK,” when once again, the devil appealed to Kevin’s vanity – the lure of fame. The face of the reporter changed into Milton’s face – another body, another opportunity to pursue Kevin. The devil never quits. We are in a spiritual battle that most everyone ignores. There was no bedroom in Milton’s penthouse apartment – Satan never sleeps.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118971/plotsummary

THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE MOVIE SUMMARY

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If your spiritual minds and hearts are open to truth, you will not dismiss the story line as “just a movie.” There is a lot of truth in this movie as to how Satan operates in the lives of mankind. He is not running around in a red suit with a pitch fork. Oh sure, he would love for us to believe this lie, that way he can subtlety continue to bring destruction to our lives while we blame God.

Satan instigates murders for he was a murderer from the beginning, John 8:44. He wasn’t always the evil being that he is, for God made him a perfect spirit being whose pride lifted him up to the point of desiring the position of God. Satan was a free moral agent, and therefore used his free will to rebel against God, started a war, lost the war in heaven, and was cast down to the earth:

“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I put you before kings,
That they may see you.”

http://bible.cc/ezekiel/28-17.htm

(See also: Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12)

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SATANIC INFLUENCE

Satan hates humanity, and seeks every day relentlessly to destroy us – by “any means necessary.” If he can cause a fight between husbands and wives, he will do it. He studies humanity as previously stated, and uses what lies within our hearts and characters against us. If you are prone to anger, you better believe Satan will orchestrate situations that will keep you in anger mode. You will hate your employer for making your work days difficult, but look behind the scenes. Just because your employer goes to a house of worship on Sunday, it does not mean that his or heart is with God.

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If a violent and abusive person is being influenced by Satan, you will not be able to change that person. Only faith in God, accepting Jesus Christ, and repentance will make a difference. Not many Christians acknowledge the presence of evil, for they feel like that is “giving the devil too much play.” Personally, we don’t give Satan and his schemes enough thought. For if we did, we could look at a situation much deeper, and use the correct spiritual weapons to combat the warfare:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians chapter 6

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Warfare… but not as we’ve known it

“Often we think we are being attacked by the enemy and blame things on him when in fact what is happening is that we have exposed ourselves to attack by doing things from our carnal nature instead of remaining hidden and protected in Christ.”

No portion of this web site may be copied, edited, or used in any form without prior permission.

© Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence Org., 2009
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Posted by on June 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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THE WRONG ADVICE!

Suomenlinna Church.

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I don’t know about you, but I am weary with reading about pastors giving abused women the wrong advice. Either they truly don’t know how to counsel a woman who is beaten by her Christian husband, or they just want the problem to go away. The poor advice that is given, “Cook better,” “Be more submissive,” and “Don’t set him off” is deplorable!

When an abused woman-that is counseled to “be more submissive” is murdered, is there some spiritual yard-stick that will measure her not having been submissive enough? And for goodness sake, someone PLEASE, PLEASE tell me what “Cooking better” has to do with domestic violence? And this one, “Don’t set him off”- should that be interpreted – “Be careful how you say good-morning?”

Here is my personal take on this issue – church leaders are afraid! I believe first of all they are afraid of the potential violence that may be directed towards them from the husbands. This may not always be the case, but perhaps in their minds, they envision the worst possible outcomes. I also believe they are afraid of losing membership, and possibly reducing their monthly salaries paid by the church members. And in too many cases, they just want to go home after preaching, and not have to deal with the drama.

Secondly, this kind of misguided advice places the blame for the violence upon the abused. What should an abused woman cook, steaks instead of pork? Bake instead of fry? Forget that the baby is crying, just stand there and make sure the food doesn’t burn? Do you see where this advice is going?

NOWHERE!

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© Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence Org., 2009
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Posted by on November 17, 2009 in WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING

 

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