The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving


Flip-Flop Your Concept of Giving!

Bestselling author Randy Alcorn introduced readers to a revolution in material freedom and radical generosity with the release of the original The Treasure Principle in 2001. Now the revision to the compact, perennial bestseller includes a provocative new concluding chapter depicting God asking a believer questions about his stewardship over material resources. Readers are moved from the realms of thoughtful Bible exposition into the highly ...

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Flip-Flop Your Concept of Giving!

Bestselling author Randy Alcorn introduced readers to a revolution in material freedom and radical generosity with the release of the original The Treasure Principle in 2001. Now the revision to the compact, perennial bestseller includes a provocative new concluding chapter depicting God asking a believer questions about his stewardship over material resources. Readers are moved from the realms of thoughtful Bible exposition into the highly personal arena of everyday life. Because when Jesus told His followers to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” He intended that they discover an astounding secret: how joyful giving brings God maximum glory and His children maximum pleasure. Discover a joy more precious than gold!

Priceless treasure is within your reach. And with it, liberating joy.

In Randy Alcorn ’s The Treasure Principle, you’ll unearth a radical teaching of Jesus—a secret wrapped up in giving. Once you discover this secret, life will never look the same. And you won’t want it to!

“Supercharged with stunning, divine truth! Lightning struck over and over as I read it.”
-John Piper , Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church , Minneapolis

“The Treasure Principle will change your life! This book is destined to become a classic.”
-Howard Dayton , Co-CEO, Crown Financial Ministries

“The Scripture passages and illustrations really ring true. Just what I needed!”
-Hugh Maclellan , President, The Maclellan Foundation

“I enthusiastically endorse The Treasure Principle. I hope millions will read it.”
-Ronald W. Blue , Founder and CEO, Ronald Blue & Company

Story Behind the Book
After years of writing and teaching on the theme “God owns everything,” in 1990 Randy Alcorn was sued by an abortion clinic (for peaceful, nonviolent intervention for the unborn). Suddenly he had to resign as a pastor and was restricted to making minimum wage. Legally unable to own anything, Randy gave all his book royalties to missions work and need-meeting ministries. He and his family have experienced the reality of The Treasure Principle—that God really does own everything, takes care of us, and graciously puts assets into our hands that we might have the joy and privilege of investing in what will last for eternity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590525081
  • Publisher: Crown Religion/Business/Forum
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Series: LifeChange Books Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 217,333
  • Product dimensions: 4.77 (w) x 6.58 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). He is the bestselling author of twenty books, with over one million in print, including the novels Deadline, Dominion, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters and the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home. His fourteen nonfiction works include ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, and the stewardship classic Money, Possessions and Eternity. He and his wife, Nanci, live in Gresham , Oregon , and have two grown daughters, Karina and Angela. He enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research, and reading.

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Read an Excerpt

The Treasure Principle

Discovering the secret of joyful giving
By Randy Alcorn

Multnomah Publishers

Copyright © 2001 Eternal Perspective Ministries
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-59052-508-6

Chapter One

Buried Treasure

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

Jim Elliot

A first-century Hebrew walks alone on a hot afternoon, staff in hand. His shoulders are stooped, sandals covered with dirt, tunic stained with sweat. But he doesn't stop to rest. He has pressing business in the city.

He veers off the road into a field, seeking a shortcut. The owner won't mind-travelers are permitted this courtesy. The field is uneven. To keep his balance he thrusts his staff into the dirt.

Thunk. The staff strikes something hard.

He stops, wipes his brow, and pokes again.

Thunk. Something's under there, and it's not a rock.

The weary traveler tells himself that he can't afford to linger. But his curiosity won't let him go. He jabs at the ground. Something reflects a sliver of sunlight. He drops to his knees and starts digging.

Five minutes later, he's uncovered it-a case fringed in gold. By the looks of it, it's been there for decades. Heart racing, he pries off the rusty lock and opens the lid.

Gold coins! Jewelry! Precious stones of every color! A treasure more valuable than anything he's ever imagined.

Hands shaking, the traveler inspects the coins, issued in Rome over seventy years ago. Some wealthy man must have buried the case and died suddenly, the secret of the treasure's location dying with him. There is no homestead nearby. Surely the current landowner has no clue that the treasure's here. (By the way, parables have one central purpose. The point of this one is not to command taking advantage of a landowner's ignorance, but to respond joyfully at finding buried treasure.)

The traveler closes the lid, buries the chest, and marks the spot. He turns around, heading home-only now he's not plodding. He's skipping like a little boy, smiling broadly.

What a find! Unbelievable! I've got to have that treasure! But I can't just take it-that would be stealing. Whoever owns the field owns what's in it. But how can I afford to buy it? I'll sell my farm ... and crops ... all my tools ... my prize oxen. Yes, if I sell everything, that should be enough!

From the moment of his discovery, the traveler's life changes. The treasure captures his imagination, becomes the stuff of his dreams. It's his reference point, his new center of gravity. The traveler takes every new step with this treasure in mind. He experiences a radical paradigm shift.

This story is captured by Jesus in a single verse: "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field" (Matthew 13:44).

Some believe this passage speaks of people finding the treasure of Christ and His kingdom. Many believe it speaks of Jesus giving His life to obtain the treasure of the subjects and kingdom He rules. In either case, it certainly envisions the joy of finding great and eternal treasure that far surpasses the costs to obtain it.

As we will see, the biblical basis for the treasure principle is not this passage, but Matthew 6:19-21. Nevertheless, Matthew 13:44 serves as a vivid picture of the joy of surrendering lesser treasures to find greater ones.

The Money Connection

The parable of hidden treasure is one of many references and illustrations Jesus made using money and possessions. In fact, 15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic-more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.

Why did Jesus put such an emphasis on money and possessions?

Because there's a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. We may try to divorce our faith and our finances, but God sees them as inseparable.

Years ago I came to this realization on an airplane while reading Luke 3. John the Baptist is preaching to crowds of people who've gathered to hear him and be baptized. Three different groups ask him what they should do to bear the fruit of repentance. John gives three answers:

1. Everyone should share clothes and food with the poor (v. 11).

2. Tax collectors shouldn't pocket extra money (v. 13).

3. Soldiers should be content with their wages and not extort money (v. 14).

Each answer relates to money and possessions. But no one asked John about that! They asked what they should do to demonstrate the fruit of spiritual transformation. So why didn't John talk about other things?

Sitting there on that airplane, I realized that our approach to money and possessions isn't just important-it's central to our spiritual lives. It's of such high priority to God that John the Baptist couldn't talk about spirituality without talking about how to handle money and possessions.

The same thing began to jump out at me in other passages. Zacchaeus said to Jesus, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount" (Luke 19:8).

Jesus' response? "Today salvation has come to this house" (v. 9). Zacchaeus's radical new approach to money proved that his heart had been transformed.

Then there were the Jerusalem converts who eagerly sold their possessions to give to the needy (Acts 2:45; 4:32-35). And the Ephesian occultists, who proved their conversion was authentic when they burned their magic books, worth what today would be millions of dollars (Acts 19:19).

The poor widow steps off the pages of Scripture by giving two small coins. Jesus praised her: "She, out of her poverty, put in everything" (Mark 12:44).

In stark contrast, Jesus spoke of a rich man who spent all his wealth on himself. He planned to tear down his barns and build larger ones, storing up for himself so he could retire early and take life easy.

But God called the man a fool, saying, "This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (Luke 12:20).

The greatest indictment against him-and the proof of his spiritual condition-is that he was rich toward himself, but not rich toward God.

When a rich young man pressed Jesus about how to gain eternal life, Jesus told him, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Matthew 19:21). The man was obsessed with earthly treasures. Jesus called him to something higher-heavenly treasures.

Jesus knew that money and possessions were the man's god. He realized that the man wouldn't serve God unless he dethroned his money idol. But the seeker considered the price too great. Sadly, he walked away from real treasures.

Smart or Stupid?

This young man wasn't willing to give up everything for a greater treasure, but our traveler in the field was. Why? Because the traveler understood what it would gain him.

Do you feel sorry for the traveler? After all, his discovery cost him everything. But we aren't to pity this man; we're to envy him! His sacrifice pales in comparison to his reward. Consider the costs-to-benefits ratio-the benefits far outweigh the costs.

The traveler made short-term sacrifices to obtain a long-term reward. "It cost him everything he owned," you might lament. Yes, but it gained him everything that mattered.

If we miss the phrase "in his joy," we miss everything. The man wasn't exchanging lesser treasures for greater treasures out of dutiful drudgery but out of joyful exhilaration. He would have been a fool not to do exactly what he did.

Christ's story about treasure in the field is an object lesson concerning heavenly treasure. Of course, no matter how great the value of that earthly fortune, it would be worthless in eternity. In fact, it's exactly this kind of treasure that people waste their lives pursuing. Jesus is appealing to what we do value-temporary, earthly treasure-in order to make an analogy about what we should value-eternal, heavenly treasure.

David spoke of such treasure: "I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil" (Psalm 119:162). God's promises are eternal treasures, and discovering them brings great joy.

In Matthew 6, Jesus fully unveils the foundation of what I call the Treasure Principle. It's one of His most-neglected teachings:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Consider what Jesus is saying: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." Why not? Because earthly treasures are bad? No. Because they won't last.

Scripture says, "Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle" (Proverbs 23:5). What a picture. Next time you buy a prized possession, imagine it sprouting wings and flying off. Sooner or later it will disappear.

But when Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, it's not just because wealth might be lost; it's because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. No exceptions.

Imagine you're alive at the end of the Civil War. You're living in the South, but you are a Northerner. You plan to move home as soon as the war is over. While in the South you've accumulated lots of Confederate currency. Now, suppose you know for a fact that the North is going to win the war and the end is imminent. What will you do with your Confederate money?

If you're smart, there's only one answer. You should immediately cash in your Confederate currency for U.S. currency-the only money that will have value once the war is over. Keep only enough Confederate currency to meet your short-term needs.

As a Christian, you have inside knowledge of an eventual worldwide upheaval caused by Christ's return. This is the ultimate insider trading tip: Earth's currency will become worthless when Christ returns-or when you die, whichever comes first. (And either event could happen at any time.)

Investment experts known as market timers read signs that the stock market is about to take a downward turn, then recommend switching funds immediately into more dependable vehicles such as money markets, treasury bills, or certificates of deposit.

Jesus functions here as the foremost market timer. He tells us to once and for all switch investment vehicles. He instructs us to transfer our funds from earth (which is volatile and ready to take a permanent dive) to heaven (which is totally dependable, insured by God Himself, and is coming soon to forever replace earth's economy). Christ's financial forecast for earth is bleak-but He's unreservedly bullish about investing in heaven, where every market indicator is eternally positive!

There's nothing wrong with Confederate money, as long as you understand its limits. Realizing its value is temporary should radically affect your investment strategy. To accumulate vast earthly treasures that you can't possibly hold on to for long is equivalent to stockpiling Confederate money even though you know it's about to become worthless.

According to Jesus, storing up earthly treasures isn't simply wrong. It's just plain stupid.

A Treasure Mentality

Jesus doesn't just tell us where not to put our treasures. He also gives the best investment advice you'll ever hear: "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:20).

If you stopped reading too soon, you would have thought Christ was against our storing up treasures for ourselves. No. He's all for it! In fact, He commands it. Jesus has a treasure mentality. He wants us to store up treasures. He's just telling us to stop storing them in the wrong place and start storing them in the right place!

"Store up for yourselves." Doesn't it seem strange that Jesus commands us to do what's in our own best interests? Wouldn't that be selfish? No. God expects and commands us to act out of enlightened self-interest. He wants us to live to His glory, but what is to His glory is always to our good. As John Piper puts it, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

Selfishness is when we pursue gain at the expense of others. But God doesn't have a limited number of treasures to distribute. When you store up treasures for yourself in heaven, it doesn't reduce the treasures available to others. In fact, it is by serving God and others that we store up heavenly treasures. Everyone gains; no one loses.

Jesus is talking about deferred gratification. The man who finds the treasure in the field pays a high price now by giving up all he has-but soon he'll gain a fabulous treasure. As long as his eyes are on that treasure, he makes his short-term sacrifices with joy. The joy is present, so the gratification isn't entirely deferred. Present joy comes from anticipating future joy.

What is this "treasure in heaven"? It includes power (Luke 19:15-19), possessions (Matthew 19:21), and pleasures (Psalm 16:11). Jesus promises that those who sacrifice on earth will receive "a hundred times as much" in heaven (Matthew 19:29). That's 10,000 percent-an impressive return!

Of course, Christ Himself is our ultimate treasure. All else pales in comparison to Him and the joy of knowing Him (Philippians 3:7-11). A person, Jesus, is our first treasure. A place, heaven, is our second treasure. Possessions, eternal rewards, are our third treasure. (What person are you living for? What place are you living for? What possessions are you living for?)

"Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Why? Because it's right? Not just that, but because it's smart. Because such treasures will last. Jesus argues from the bottom line. It's not an emotional appeal; it's a logical one: Invest in what has lasting value.

You'll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul. Why? Because you can't take it with you.

Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. (Psalm 49:16-17)

John D. Rockefeller was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived. After he died someone asked his accountant, "How much money did John D. leave?" The reply was classic: "He left ... all of it."

You can't take it with you.

If that point is clear in your mind, you're ready to hear the secret of the Treasure Principle.

The Treasure Principle

Jesus takes that profound truth "You can't take it with you" and adds a stunning qualification. By telling us to store up treasures for ourselves in heaven, He gives us a breathtaking corollary, which I call the Treasure Principle:

You can't take it with you- but you can send it on ahead.

It's that simple. And if it doesn't take your breath away, you're not understanding it! Anything we try to hang on to here will be lost. But anything we put into God's hands will be ours for eternity (insured for infinitely more than $100,000 by the real FDIC, the Father's Deposit Insurance Corporation).

If we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, we store up treasures in heaven that will never stop paying dividends. Whatever treasures we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive. Financial planners tell us, "When it comes to your money, don't think just three months or three years ahead. Think thirty years ahead." Christ, the ultimate investment counselor, takes it further. He says, "Don't ask how your investment will be paying off in just thirty years. Ask how it will be paying off in thirty million years."


Excerpted from The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn Copyright © 2001 by Eternal Perspective Ministries. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    The Treasure Principle

    After reading The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review as a part of the Blogging for Books program another one of his books. It could be the topic, but I found the Treasure Principle disappointing in comparison with the previous book I read. Don't get me wrong I understand that this book has sold over 1 million copies and it does have Randy's personal testimony of "losing everything" which is both powerful and encouraging to see how God has used and is still using a very difficult circumstance to find pure joy in knowing that God owns it all. I just personally was expecting more after reading the theological richness of The Goodness of God. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has a desire to discover the essentials of giving and how it can be a joyful experience. I think it would also serve as a great companion book to go along with a message series on the basics of tithing and giving.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    A good way to live life

    As I was reading this book it gave me good insite on how I looked at the money that I have and how not to be so cliggy to it. It helped me understand that its all of God's and we need to be good stewards of it as well give it freely back to him. The theme that kept coming back to is that we need to give this treasure back to God and live the life that God envisions for us. One of freedom. It is scriptureally based and after reading it I plan on following these principles so my life can be in line with God's.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    Recommend to read at least once!

    The author definitely sets high standards for giving. He challenges the reader to give joyfully more than they are used to giving now. His stories and reasoning behind his concept are persuasive. I felt challenged and most important it helped get my mind thinking.. am I giving enough now? Could I give more? Should I give more? Great book to give as a gift.

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  • Posted April 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Nice, but not for me...

    Randy Alcorn's modern classic , The Treasure Principle, reveals the Scriptural truths about giving: how a change in one's attitude towards giving can ignite a reformation in living that will cross over the bounds of this life and open up the very treasure troves of Heaven. With careful yet simplistic detail, Alcorn develops the message of Christ that denial of materialism in this life and investment in the life to come is the best cure for the financial worry and strife that persistently marks our modern culture.

    Alcorn's writing style is clean, littered with historical facts and noteworthy anecdotes. As simple as his writing is, however, his challenge is far more difficult. By developing six modest keys to unlocking the secret of joyful giving, and by concluding with a six-point giving covenant for the reader to confirm, Alcorn lays bare the truths and trials of one's decisively altering his entire financial philosophy.

    While reading this short book, I must admit that I found it challenging to picture Alcorn's intended audience. Because his book is filled with stories of philanthropists and business owners, and the majority of his encouragements to give often imply going far beyond the classic 10% tithe, I wondered if he was writing only to the rich. While he mentions often his own story of facing an $8.2 million court judgment and having to accept minimum wage to help pay this off, Alcorn still comes across as a man who lives by far different means than I. His story surely does not resonate with my own, and as a result, this book tends towards the "nice, but not for me" shelf in my library.

    [Note: I received this book free through the Waterbrook-Multnomah Blogging for Books program]

    © 2010 E.T.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    Cannot recommend

    Okay, I read it. It disturbs me & I'm trying to figure out how to articulate why because there are a LOT of reviews out there saying this is an absolutely fantastic book on encouraging Christian giving, and tithing (ironically, the latter bothers the glowing reviewers, but not me). His Principles are:

    Principle #1- God owns everything. I am His money manager.
    Principle #2- My heart always goes where I put God's money.
    Principle #3- Heaven, not Earth, is my home.
    Principle #4- I should live for the line (eternity), not the dot(short life on earth).
    Principle #5- Giving is the only antidote for materialism.
    Principle #6- God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.

    Doesn't sound bad in & of itself. But I didn't care for what felt like to me, too much focus on our rewards in heaven. It felt like for me there was too much focus on the motive for giving being that we would receive rewards (treasure in heaven) for it (i.e., what we give here is sent ahead to become our treasure in heaven -- I always thought our treasure in heaven is our relationship with God. This just transposes materialism here for materialism in eternity). I feel our motive shouldn't be about getting, but about being so grateful for all He has done, and knowing it's often His way of providing for his children or drawing someone to himself for which we are led to give. I also believe Alcorn misinterprets scripture quite a bit, taking it out of context and making them say things they do not say per what I've learned from my pastors & classes in my church & my own reading..

    Moreover, it disturbs me greatly that he did all he could (moving money into other's names) to avoid a civil judgment against him & resigning his job so as not to get the paycheck at that point. And touts this as a good & honorable thing in the book which taught him to live below his means (bear in mind he started off debt free - other than the judgment that he weaseled out of).

    This book makes me vastly uncomfortable & I cannot recommend it to anyone

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  • Posted April 10, 2009

    Powerful & realistic look at storing your treasures in Heaven

    The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn is one of many books on the market encouraging Christians to give first to the Lord and trust in His blessings. This books stands head and shoulders above others in this genre because the author truly lives the message of which he writes. Alcorn, who is well known for his many books, especially Heaven, lives on minimum wage. All of his books belong to his church which donates 90% of the profits to charities close to Alcorn's heart. Compare this to other pastors who tell you to tithe, and that you can start by mailing your money directly to them! Alcorn's Treasure Principle is that when we are good stewards of the gifts that God has given us on earth, He will reward us, and we will store up treasures accordingly in Heaven. He uses as an example: if I offered you $1000 today or if you waited, $10,000,000 in a year and then again every year after forever, which would you take? Anyone taking the $1000 would be sacrificing a greater treasure for small happiness today. I know this is a sin I am guilty of, but Alcorn's book offers hope and straightforward reasons for me to repent. It's a thoroughly enjoyable book with a wonderful message.

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  • Posted December 29, 2008

    The joy of giving¿

    The Treasure Principle<BR/>Unlocking The Secret of Joyful Giving<BR/>Randy Alcorn<BR/>Multnomah, 2008<BR/>ISBN: 9781590525081<BR/>Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for, 12/08<BR/>The joy of giving¿<BR/>Author Randy Alcorn delves into the mystery of the joy of giving. We live in a society that measures success on materialistic things. The more you have the more you want. The house is never big enough. The car is never good enough. If one is good, two is better, and three is best. None of this brings us happiness or satisfaction. <BR/>Alcorn explains where our true happiness and satisfaction comes from¿God. We are to be good stewards of everything, including money. We have nothing without God, yet we claim it all as our own. We use the phrase, ¿I deserve,¿ when in actuality we deserve nothing. All we ¿have¿ belongs to God. He graciously allows us to work for Him. ¿We don¿t own the store. We just work here.¿<BR/>Alcorn presents his message is an easy-to-understand, simple manner. This should be required reading for all Christians.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2008

    Excellent Book

    Randy Alcorn writes in a clear, concise manner showing a genuine heart for the Lord and a solid understanding of the Bible. He presents a number of principles and shows how the Lord has led him to use them in his life. He does not tell you to blindly follow his advice, but rather to read the Scriptures and live accordingly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2007

    Be very careful with this book....

    Pray for discernment before reading this book. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth in it and to help you 'spit out the (numerous) bones' of error included as well. Be a careful, critical reader and do not be deceived.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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