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CHRISTMAS ARTICLES WITH A DIFFERENCE Deep Disciples of Jesus Shaping Article

The Full Glory of the Christmas Story Via Christmas Passages You Probably Missed While In A Hurry!

WOWED BY A WIDE-LENS VIEW OF CHRISTMAS BY A STUDY OF THE REFERENCES TO CHRISTMAS/INCARNATION OF CHRIST BY OTHER NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS APART FROM MATTHEW AND LUKE

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

Different writers of the Bible used various styles and imagery to describe the Christmas story. Using Holy Spirit-inspired colors they painted the Christmas Story in a wide range of colors! Yes, Matthew and Luke narrated the historic Christmas story. But other New Testament writers – notably Paul, John and the Hebrews-author – go back to the same Christmas event and explain its theological meanings and implications. Let us look at Christmas using a wide-lens, taking into account the writings of as many different New Testament writers as possible!

Not just Luke and Matthew. Paul, John, and the Hebrews-writer talk about Christmas! We have a mention of Christmas even in the book of Revelation! This article focusses on the non-Matthew, non-Luke stories of Christmas!

Paul described Christmas this way: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman..” (Gal. 4:4). For Paul, Christmas was all about the impeccable TIMING. Jesus came to the planet at the time designed by the Trinity. If God came to the earth as a sinless, perfect human at the right time, he knows the right time to remove that sickness you are presently enduring and give you the promotion you are eagerly expecting! We must learn to salute the Sovereignty of God who is always “on time” when it comes to working miracles on our behalf even though, at times, he may be “four days late” (John 11:39) (as one song-writer memorably put it).

The miracle that God has planned for you, will come at the ‘right time’ – God’s time!

John portrayed Christmas this way: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling (tabernacle) among us…” (John 1:14). For John, Christmas was about the TABERNACLE. This world is not our home and we just tabernacling – passing – through this world! As Jonathan Edwards put it, we go about our earthly tenure with ‘eternity stamped on our eyeballs’.

The Hebrews-writer envisioned Christmas this way: “Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil…” (Heb. 2:14). For the Hebrews-writer, Christmas was all about TERROR-REMOVAL. Jesus was born so that he would die and rise again and thereby open the door to remove the commonest fear among humans – the fear of death. And to die, he needed flesh and blood like us, humans. And during the first Christmas, he chose to cloth himself with flesh and blood! So no fear needs to grip us – the fear of an examination, the fear of a job-loss, the fear of another crippling pandemic, the fear of not being up-to-the-mark in the responsibilities given to us, the fear of …. !

Christmas happened that our fear of death will be gone! Hebrews-writer’s point!

John wrote again about Christmas choosing another thing to focus upon in 2 John. He wrote there: ‘For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist’ (2 John 7). For him, here, Christmas was all about TRUTH-GAURDING. By being born in the flesh – born as a baby into our planet – Jesus was showcasing the importance of the human body. The one who filled the universe would now live inside the body of a woman – her womb! And once he came out of her womb, he would exist in a human body coping with all its restrictions of having to be in one place at one time (something that was strange for the God who was everywhere present)! The human body cannot become a playground for sexual immorality. If you did not believe in Christmas –  God’s coming in the flesh – then it would not be a big deal for you to indulge the flesh! So, if you really believed in Christmas, you will motivation to live a sexually pure life! That was John’s point in 2 John.

2 John has a verse about Christmas/Incarnation that encourages us to overcome sexual sin!

John was not tired of writing about Christmas time and again! He kept coming back to Christmas to expound the theological implications of Christ as the Spirit of God prodded him to. He gives us a peek of Christmas in Revelation 12, I believe: the Sun-clothed woman’s baby was about to be devoured by Satan the moment he was born (Rev. 12:4). Remember how Herod tried to finish off the new born baby Jesus? This Revelation 12 male child, obviously Jesus, was “destined to rule the nations” (Rev. 12:5). Satan also was keen on waging an ongoing battle with the “rest of the children” of the sun-clothed woman (Rev. 12:17). The rest of the children of the sun-clothed – symbolic of believers and Christ-followers – were to hang in there for 1260 days in the wilderness (Rev. 12:14). 1260 days! Does the number ring a bell? It certainly rang a bell among the original readers of John’s letter! They knew that was a code word used by the apostles often to remind believers of those days to become more and more like the One who ministered on this earth for 1260 days, i.e. three and half years – even Jesus! So, the call of Christmas, from John, from Revelation 12 is that of a TRANSFORMATION – a call to be transformed in character like Jesus’ character, more and more in our “wilderness” journey!

The Sun-clothed woman story narrated in Revelation 12 is a Christmas Story, according to me, calling us to become more and more like Jesus!

Using the “flood” from his mouth Satan (see Rev. 12:15) will try to drown believers. That reminds me of the “flood” of false teaching Satan has unleashed using the mouths of false-teachers who have surrendered their mouths to him. Using those Satan-inspired mouths the teach hell-populating teaching like hyper-grace, immortality on earth, hyper-supernaturalism, etc. to drown believers. John writes, ‘But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth to swallow up the river that had poured from the dragon’s mouth’ (Rev. 12:16). This is simply another way of saying that one day the earth will open up and swallow Satan-inspired false-teachers the way it opened up and swallowed Korah and his rebellion gang in the Old Testament. It is an imagery of judgment: earth opening up and swallowing. It points to the hell-destination of false teachers and those who buy their theology, I believe. So understanding this seemingly-complex-yet-simple imagery of Revelation 12 brings us back to the message of TRUTH-GAURDING. Obeying the commands of God – holding onto the written Word of God and making it our basis for all matters of belief and behaviour – and holding onto our testimony – testimony via life and lips –  is what enrages Satan, John writes he wraps his ‘Christmas’ commentary in the book of Revelation (Rev. 12:17). Let’s celebrate a Christmas where the focus is not on being ENTERTAINED by SANTA CLAUS but on ENRAGING SATAN!

Revelation 12’s thrust about Christmas brings us to this: Christmas is not about being ENTERTAINED by Santa Claus but about ENRAGING SATAN by safe-gaurding ourselves from false teachings he brings via false teachers/pastors/brothers!!!

This wide-lens view of Christmas is wow, isn’t it? This Christmas take time to read, meditate, chew, non-typical Christmas chapters such as Revelation 12, 2 John, Galatians 4, John 1, etc.!

(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, a Agri. Engineer turned M. Div. Gold Medallist and Doctor Of Ministry Graduation Speaker,  is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a para-church ministry to present-day people functioning from Chennai. God has graciously opened doors for him to preach in over 20 Indian states and in a few other nations right from the first time Duke preached, as a school boy of 16, in the year 1991. He has authored three books: Straight Talk (Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, Phone Addiction, married-sex, etc., – what the Bible says), Daniel in Dell (practical study of the book of Daniel for modern working professionals), Goodnews for the Google Generation (the Gospel presented the way Jesus did in Luke 13 and the way Paul did in Acts 17). Reach him via emailduke@gmail.com or WhatsApp, +91-8886040605, in case you want to buy these or have a question. Duke is married to Evangelin, a Odisha Missionary’s daughter, and this couple are blessed with two children – Dale, 19, who is a student of St. Stephens College, Delhi,  and Datasha, 15, who studies Class X. This article was published in the December 2022 edition of Aim magazine of Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke’s ministry, the G4 Mission is a reader-supported ministry).

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New Year Devotions

WHEN JESUS USED THE WORD ‘YEAR’….

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj | New Year Bible Devotion

Jesus  used the word “Year” twice during his earthly ministry.

Jesus used the word ‘year’ twice during his earthly ministry. Duke Jeyaraj, examines those two occasions and brings out a practical message.

In a synagogue in Nazareth, he read from the scroll of the book of Isaiah this: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).  He particularly chose this passage to read from the Scroll (Luke 4:17).

What was Jesus’ point?  During his first coming, he came to announce the period of God’s favor; at that time, everyone has the opportunity to turn from sin and trust him as Savior. But when he comes back the second time, he will come as a judge. The writer to the Hebrews explains this further. She writes (I think it is Pricilla): So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Heb. 9:28). While Jesus would bring Salvation to those who are waiting for him, he will also bring judgment resulting in Hell for those who spurn ‘the year of God’s Favor’ – the time between his first coming and second coming!

So, let us use the New Year that God has graciously added to our lives to proclaim the year of God’s Favor! How do we do that? We do that by proclaiming Jesus through our life and lips to as many as possible! We do that by building God’s Kingdom using our time, talent and treasures! We must also clearly mention that this ‘year of God’s favor’ can come to an end the second Jesus returns to the earth. And the New Testament is clear that Jesus can return any time. It is there in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him’ (Matt. 24:44). This truth is so important that it is repeated. See Matthew 25:13: ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour’. The ‘thief in the night’ imagery is used by both Paul, Peter and John to underscore this truth yet again (I Thess. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 16:15).

We proclaim the year of God’s Favor by proclaiming the soon-to-come return of Jesus Christ!

We must also take time to mention that the year of God’s Favor will come to an end if someone dies outside of an ongoing relationship with Jesus. This is so, because there is no salvation after one’s death. After death, there is only judgment to look forward to (Heb. 9:27). Also after death and after the commencement of eternal punishment in the hell there is no change to cross-over from hell to heaven. Jesus himself mentions this in an incident he narrates in Luke’s gospel where we read, ‘And besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that even those who wish cannot cross from here to you, nor can anyone cross from there to us’ (Luke 16:26, the words of heaven-dwelling Abraham to hell-dwelling Rich Man).

So, this understanding – that the year of the Lord’s favor can end any second – should motivate us to race to the lost with the Gospel this year!

So, make it a point to join your local church’s evangelistic outreaches! Join hands with a para-church organisation involved in direct evangelism activities like gospel tract distribution! That’s one ministry we in Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission) do each month – the ministry of tracts distribution. We welcome you to join us if you happen to live in Chennai. If you live other cities, please reach out to us and we can supply with gospel tracts which will appeal to the Indian English reader which we have published.

After a Tracts Outreach done by G4 Mission in Hyderabad…..

During your many travels this year, share the Gospel with the person sitting next to you. I do that by showing the ESV phone app on my smart phone. I read Psalm 119:165 to the person sitting next to me in the flight, train or bus. And finish off with these words, “When I read this book – God’s Word in human words – I have ‘great peace’ which this verse talks about. While others pointed out the way to peace, the Bible proclaims that Jesus himself will be our peace. Jesus and the peace He offers is unique and you must experience it!”

Using the ESV App I have shared the Gospel in brief with flight co-passengers in several of my flight journies!

So, let this be a YEAR of FAVOR-PROCLAMATION.

There was yet another time, that Jesus used the word “Year” as he went about his earthly ministry. He did after talking about two disasters that took place during his time: an building crash that kill 18 people and the butchering done by an evil ruler who sought to mix human blood with his religious sacrifices (Luke 13:1-5). Jesus told this to the people who heard him this: “Just because that building did not fall on you, it does not mean you are better than those it fell on to take their lives! Just because the evil ruler did not kill you and mix your blood in the sacrifice he wanted to offer, it does not mean you are better than his targets. No way! Unless you repent, you too will perish!” (my paraphrase keeping the context in mind).

Jesus referred to two contemporary events and wrapped Bible Truth around them in Luke 13:1-5

Let the Voice version of the Bible take over to explain to you what happened after this:

(following up with this parable) A man has a fig tree planted in his vineyard. One day he comes out looking for fruit on it, but there are no figs. He says to the vineyard keeper, “Look at this tree. For three years, I’ve come hoping to find some fresh figs, but what do I find? Nothing. So just go ahead and cut it down. Why waste the space with a fruitless tree?” The vineyard keeper replies, “Give it another chance, sir. Give me one more year working with it. I’ll cultivate the soil and heap on some manure to fertilize it. If it surprises us and bears fruit next year, that will be great, but if not, then we’ll cut it down.” (Luke 13:6-9, The Voice).

So, there you have it, the second time Jesus used the word ‘year’ from his mouth! He does so in the context of giving those of us still alive a fresh opportunity to make up for the times who have goofed up and blow away opportunities to bear fruit for him! So, the new year should be a time of FRUIT-BEARING, and not just FAVOR-PROCLAMATION.

How do we bear Fruit?

For that we need to send our roots far down below in Christ. Apostle Paul writes, ‘Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude’ (Col. 2:6-7).

We send our roots deeper into Christ by increasing our times of intimacy with him evidenced through prayer and Bible meditation this new year – thanks to our ever-growing love for him.

Recently, I discovered that the Bible can be divided into ten parts: Genesis through Deuteronomy are the Law Books. From Joshua till 2 Kings are the pre-exilic History books of the Bible. From 2 Chronicles to Esther are the post-exilic History Books of the Bible. From Job till Song of Songs are the Poetry Books of the Bible. From Isaiah to Daniel are the major prophetic books of the Bible. From Hosea to Malachi are the minor prophetic books of the Bible. From Matthew to Luke are the Gospels – we know that. The book of Acts is the lone New Testament History book. From Romans to Jude, constitute the Letters or Epistles. And the book of Revelation is the lone Prophetic book of the Bible. Why not try and read one chapter each from each of these 10 different sections of the Bible? This way you Bible meditation time will have a 10-fold flavour and boredom will be blown away! We must read from every section of the Bible regularly because “ALL” Scripture is God-breathed and is useful (2 Tim. 3:16).

Duke divides the Bible into 10 sections in this essay. And it slightly different from what is illustrated above as well. Reading one chapter from each such section of the Bible daily will be an interesting, invigorating exercise.

So, have a blessed New Year of Favour-Proclamation and Fruit-Bearing!

(This article was published in Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Aim magazine edition of January 2022. Duke, the author of this article, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more about this reader-supported Indian ministry at www.dukev.org)

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Anti-Dotes-For-Modern-False-Teachings-Like-Hyper-Grace

God the Father: The Biblical View Vs The Emotional View

Duke Jeyaraj

In a month when we celebrate Father’s Day (it falls on June 20th, this year), it will be appropriate to study the character of God as a Father so that we fathers can copy him. The Old Testament repeatedly presents God as the Father (though some wrongly believe God is a consuming fire in the Old Testament but a loving Father in the New Testament, influenced by hyper-grace false teaching which largely appeals to people who do not take time to read the Bible fully and comprehensively). You will be surprised to know that even the Old Testament clearly teaches that God is a Loving Father. However, he is not the Loving Father, the hyper grace cult false teachers paint him to be via their popular-on-Youtube worship songs and their doing-violence-to-the-full-counsel-of-God sermons.  

THE PLAN

It was God’s eternal plan to be a father to us. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews makes this known. He writes, ‘For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering’ (Hebrews 2:10 ESV). God had an Eternal Son. He enjoyed the fellowship with him he had very much. He wanted more sons and daughters – sons and daughters who would be fully human albeit. The addition of these children will bring joy to God the Father. The joy will be for the kids as well as they fellowshipped with their heavenly dad! To bring more children to glory the Eternal son suffered on the Cross – that is the message of Hebrews 2:10.

THE PAIN

One of the earliest mentions in the Bible which introduces God as a Father to us is in Exodus 4. The Lord instructed Moses to say these words to Pharoah: “Let My son go so that he may worship me, but you refused to let him go. Now I will kill your firstborn son!” (Exodus 4:21,23 HCSB). When we were slaves of sin, God sought to make us, sinners, sons! So, he sent Jesus to die for us to endure pain on the Cross. When we repent of our sins and come to him in faith, we become sons and daughters of God (John 1:12).

THE PAIRING

The next Old Testament reference to God as a Father is found in the Song of Moses. In that classic Holy Spirit inspired song, Moses presents Israel as God’s son. He sang, “They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish. A perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus deal with the Lord; O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has he not made you and established you?” (Deut. 32:5-6 NKJV). One key thing I learnt from this passage is this: The Father God imagery is not only imagery for God in the Bible. In the same song of Moses, God is compared to “the Rock” (see Deut. 32:4, 15, 30) and the Eagle (see Deut. 32:11). Those who teach that God is only a loving Father and nothing else are clearly wrong. In Hebrews 12, God is presented both as a COMPASSIONATE FATHER (vs. 5-6) and a CONSUMING FIRE (vs. 12)! So, we must always pair the imagery of a loving father present in the Bible with other imageries for God in the Bible. The Bible says, “It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes” (Eccl. 7:18, NIV).

Prophet Isaiah, the prophet with the best vocabulary amongst all Bible writers, connects the transcendence of God with the picture of God as the Father in Isaiah 63:15-16. Though ‘God looks down from heaven’ (a phrase that talks about his transcendence), as Isaiah put it in Isaiah 63:15, he is also ‘our Father’ (as Isaiah expressed it in Isaiah 63:16)! The Christian Faith is unique because it is the only faith where the dwelling-in-Heaven God is the same person who like our doting-us-on-Earth Dad! The Bible remarkably pairs these two unlike qualities in one and the same person – our eternal God!

THE PRIVILEGE WHICH COMES WITH…

Prophet Jeremiah, the Bible Prophet who wrote the most-worded Bible Book in the Bible, also introduces God as the Father. He writes, “For I am a Father to Israel. And Ephraim is My first-born” (Jeremiah 31:9b, NASB). To have God as our Father is a privilege. But that privilege comes with a responsibility. What responsibility? To be fruitful! The word, “ephraim” means to “doubly-fruitful” in Hebrew. “Since I am your Father, you must be doubly-fruitful, Israel” – that was Prophet Jeremiah’s inspired message. Since God is our Father, we must be holy! How did I make this connection? In John 17:11 in the high priestly prayer, Jesus called his father, as the Holy Father! So as children of the holy father, we too must be holy in our day to day lives! Apostle James also attaches responsibilities to those who call God as Father. He wrote, “With it (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9, NASB). Those who enjoy the love of the Father (privilege) should love people around them and speak kindly to them (responsibility). James made another connection between privilege of knowing God as the loving father and a connected responsibility of taking care of the poor and the needy. He does so here: ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world’ (James 1:27). Apostle Peter also attaches responsibilities with those who call God as a Father. If we call God as Father, we must be ready to be sanctified and obey the Lord Jesus, Apostle Peter teaches (I Peter 1:2). He further writes, ‘And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile’ (I Peter 1:17). While can celebrate the privilege of calling God as our Father, we must not forget the responsibility we have in showing him a holy reverence and healthy fear!

THE PERIL

Prophet Hosea perhaps paints the most moving picture of God as a Father in the entire Bible. Here is his unmatched, emotion-stirring depiction: ‘Eternal One: When Israel was a child, I loved him; and out of Egypt I called My son. But the more I called to Israel, the more they walked away from Me. They kept on sacrificing to other divine mastersand burning incense to idols! But I was the one who taught Ephraim to walk, holding him up by his arms, but his people didn’t know I was the One who took care of them. I led them along with leather cords; with ropes of love I showed them the way. As I dealt with them, I lifted the yoke from their neck; I bent down to give them their food’ (Hosea 11:1-4, The Voice). Here we see how the people of Israel walked away from God their father who reminds them of his great love for them almost fighting back his tears. Does this love continue forever without ever stopping? The hyper grace cult false teachers who present God as the father compare him with earthly fathers. They ask, “Do you stop becoming your earthly father’s son, if you rebel against him? You don’t. In the same way the Heavenly Father will never stop loving you even if you walk away from him, stubbornly, for the rest of your life – you are in no danger of being punished by him. You still remain His Son!” Really? The very next verse post the greatest Bible passage on God’s fatherly love we see God sending a punishment for the people of Israel who spurned his fatherly love: “They will not return to the land of Egypt; But Assyria – he will be their king. Because they refused to return to me” (Hosea 11:5, NASB). Prophet Hosea foretold the end of the northern Kingdom of Israel, also known as Ephraim, here. As he foretold the Assyrians overtook them in 722 B.C. So, there is a real peril if you keep spurning the love of the Father God and keep indulging your flesh. Romans 11:22 warns that if we spurn God’s kindness (expressed by His Fatherly nature), we are in the real danger of being “cut off”.

In fact, Prophet Hosea who painted God as a loving father in Hosea 11 portrays him as an upset and furious Bear-Lion-Wild Beast in Hosea 13. He writes, “I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open. He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper” (Hos. 13:8-9 ESV). So, what is full message of Hosea? It is this: God loves you as a father. But if you are stubborn in rebelling against Him and chasing after sin, he reserves the right to become as an angry bear-Lion-wild beast who can ultimately send you to hell.

Using memorable word-number picture, the author of Revelation, Apostle John teaches when one calls God as his father (Rev. 14:1) he needs to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Rev. 14:4) that is, obey Jesus in all areas of his life! Read Revelation 21:7-8 very carefully and you will understand this: those for whom God is a Father will be the ones who “conquer” (Satan, Self and Sin); they will be the ones who have turned from hell-populating sins such as sexual immorality, murder, sorcery, idolatry, lying, etc.

THE PARENTING

Having understood comprehensively the Fatherly Nature of God as per the Word of God we fathers must parent like God for Apostle Paul call believers to become “imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1). That means just as God disciples his kids moved by great love so that his kids may “share his holiness” (Heb. 12:7-10) we fathers must discipline our kids. We must not hesitate to give them whacks when necessary! Those whacks would be a God-intended way of wooing them to grow in holiness!  We must discipline our kids when they live in sins such as sexual immorality (porn-watching, affairs, gadget-addiction, etc) and not look the other way like King David apparently did when Amnon raped Tamar. Prophet Eli finally spoke some words of restraint when his sons went astray in a brazen manner (but it came far too late as God had already planned to execute judgment on them – check out I Samuel 2:12-25). The Nelson Study Bible notes, “Eli had warned his sons of divine judgment (I Sam. 2:25), but he never really rebuked them for their sins (I Sam. 3:13). By neglecting his parental duty, he was in effect favouring his sons above God.” Fathers let us not parent like King David and Priest Eli, but like God!

Let us return to a biblical view of God the Father shunning our hyper-grace cult impacted view of God the Father!

(This article was published in Aim Magazine June 2021 edition. Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke, the author of this piece is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a viewer-supported, reader-supported Indian ministry. You may hear Duke preach at http://www.Youtube.com/VisitDuke. You may buy his book on sex, love, marriage, porn, phone addiction, etc. , via Amazon (the kindle edition) or Google Books (the e-book). For the print version of this book which is seen as a text book on taboo topics please whatsapp us at +91-8886040605 and we will send you the payment link.)