Is there a "reconciliation" or middle ground?


Dark_Jedi

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@FunkyTown "Okay, let's go with this: What qualities do you think the 'God that the church teaches about' has that you haven't seen?"

I think we covered this, too, but here it is again perhaps with a bit more explanation and clarity. From the original post (which could have been more detailed in retrospect): "I do not believe most prayers are answered (almost none, actually), I do not believe in personal revelation, I believe most local Church leaders are wholly uninspired...."

Ah! Herein lies the problem. I've asked you what characteristics you believe God should have, and you've started by explaining what you don't believe. That's not a characteristic of God. It's a characteristic of you. Perhaps if you explained what you think God should do with your prayers and why you think that's a characteristic that God should have.

@A later post: "Following what Mormons are taught, it would be presumed that God knows what would bring me back to activity and would through some means bring about the "miracle" or whatever to make that happen. Whether God knows them or not, I know them, and they're not happening." Again, keeping at least some privacy, that which I seek is not a miracle at all, does not necessarily require God to influence the thoughts and/or actions of anyone, is not actually physical, and is something the vast majority of you have. I could draw an analogy (and this is not it because it is physical) to having a home or simply a place to live. It really is that simple. More importantly, it rights a wrong that I believe God was directly involved in (perhaps as part of a test which I failed, see the post above).

Again, this isn't a characteristic that you think God should have, but rather an action that you feel God should take. That has nothing to do with God and everything to do with you. If you said, "God could make me active now. All he'd have to do is suffocate every living thing within six miles of me.", then does it necessarily reflect that God doesn't exist? Perhaps what you feel you need to come back to activity is not what would be best for you spiritually. If God gave you what you want, it would be because he doesn't love you.

This is why I'm asking for characteristics that you feel define God. You've provided actions without motivation or characteristics and, again, these things have nothing to do with God and everything to do with you.

@From a still later post: "I believe that if what is taught in church is correct, God does know all and likewise would, as a loving Father in Heaven, do what is necessary...to bring back his child in response to the pleas of that child and other children.... (If) God does know what it would take...Why, then, ... does he not do so?"

For the same reason that he might not suffocate everyone within a six mile of radius to you: The action you feel you need to return to him might not be good for you spiritually, or might be bad for others spiritually.

@And saving the best for last (and besides it was later): "...it is regularly taught and testified of in LDS churches that God loves each of us, that he is intricately involved in our daily lives...that he hears and answers all prayers...that God has a specific plan for each individual, that he desires our happiness and success and is just waiting for us to ask him for whatever we need or want, and whatever is righteous and properly prayed for we will receive. Likewise...it is taught that God does allow bad things to happen to good people for whatever purpose he has or simply allowing evil people and/or Satan their agency. And of course, God always allows each individual to choose - but there are consequences to each choice, most of which are not readily apparent. So the expectations I have is that God is the God that people in the Church say he is." In direct answer to your question, I am not feeling the love and have not for a very long time (or he has a very strange way of showing love); I do not believe most prayers are answered (as stated originally) - at least mine aren't and most of what I see people testify of as answers to their prayers happen to people that don't pray as well; I don't believe God is intricately involved in our lives (again, not feeling the love) and if he has a plan I don't know what it is I am supposed to do to make that happen because this can't be it (but I doubt he has a plan); and I think the other stuff is covered in what I have already said.

Real, complete and total love. That's definitely a characteristic of God - But that God promises you success? Well, your definition of success and God's might be very different.

This boils down to you not feeling the love. That's a very different characteristic and, again, not indicative of a characteristic of God. Again, this is a characteristic of you.

I can't be any more specific than that. I don't feel the love, my prayers (and the prayers relating to this by family and friends) have not been answered despite doing everything properly, if God were intricately involved with my life he would see how I have suffered, and this is clearly not the plan of a loving God as described above.

We have all suffered. Every single one of us. You'll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't been homeless, or lost a loved one, or suffered from illness. None of those things reflect one way or the other on God.

I'm sorry you're hurting, but if your testimony is based upon God giving you what you want then your testimony is on very sandy ground indeed. I can promise you that there are numerous scriptures which argue against exactly what you're saying God should do.

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I applaud your honesty.

This is my question, would it be possible to "sustain" the prophet and general authorities if you think they are uninspired, or don't know what they are talking about?

Since we believe in a living church, a church that accepts our prophets receive inspiration from God regarding specific elements of the Church. We also sustain the prophets and general authorities in areas that are not necessarily "inspired" but policies. I think it would be very hard to sustain any person that an individual feels is uninspired.

The act of sustaining our local leaders and those located in Salt Lake City (the earthly head of the church) are pretty much the same, although I will admit I put more emphasis on following the prophet than local leaders because the prophet is the only person on this earth that we have promise who will not lead us astray and if he seeks to he will be uprooted, or removed, from his office.

I suppose we could have a long discussion about what it means to sustain, but I think that would get too far off topic. Suffice it to say, I'm sure you (and most people) "sustain" the president of the church in a much different way than you do the ward's Scoutmaster or a primary teacher. Sustaining is much more than raising your hand in a meeting while everybody else is doing the same thing (and a good number of them not actually even listening).

There are things in which the president of the church probably is inspired and/or acted upon by the Holy Ghost. I do personally believe Joseph Smith's account of the happenings in the sacred grove, and likewise I believe in that which is set forth in D&C 138. And there are other instances not as profound in which I believe the president of the church and other general authorities may have been inspired. The point is, they are not inspired about all things, and not even all (or maybe most) words they speak in general conference. Call it human frailty or what you will, it's just plain truth. I think I may not have explained clearly enough (although I think I did) that I don't believe the GA's are wholly uninspired - but they are at least partly at least part of the time (and at least enough to make me and others question how much they are). I believe some (maybe a lot) of what they tell us in conferences, etc., is the same as the old lady in her Sacrament Meeting talk - parroting what has been taught them their whole lives.

So I believe I do sustain the GA's in their "inspiration from God regarding specific elements of the Church" (which may be rare and very specific) and "in areas that are not necessarily "inspired" but policies" (I couldn't care less about the missionary age change, for instance, but also believe it's about time and see no reason why sisters, who are more mature than elders, shouldn't go at 18 and for 2 years as well). Like most people in the Church, those same GA's are sometimes involved in perpetrating myths that are not part of the gospel and are not actually doctrine, but do so in all sincerity. I would wager that my thoughtful sustaining of them in their inspiration is of far greater value than the thoughtless raising of the hand (which I obviously do not do). I don't believe sustaining the GA's (especially those other than the president) means following every word he says blindly like sheep as if it were God himself speaking - you and I both know when those moments occur. Do I sustain President Monson as prophet, seer, and revelator and the only person on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Yes, I do. I do not believe he prohesies, sees, and revelates 24/7 - or anywhere close to that.

Local leaders are certainly different, and are held to a different standard (as you admit). In my experiences (and I will remind you that I have served in two bishoprics) bishops are mostly uninspired, but some are much more inspired than others. It's easy for them to get caught up in following the directions in the handbook and lose sight of inspiration, and it is easy for them to not follow the directions in the handbook and use inspiration as an excuse. If my current bishop were truly inspired, he would do things differently in our relationship, pure and simple. I do not sustain him because his actions (or perhaps it's God's actions in lack if inspiring him) do not demonstrate to me that he is called of God. The bishop before him was much the same - as our ward has shrunk considerably, the picking have become more slim, I suppose. I can't say the bishops prior to these two have been so wholly uninspired.

So wrapping up, yes, I believe one can (and I do) sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve without necessarily believing every word that proceeds from their mouths is scriptural truth. I believe people can sustain other GA's and LA's likewise - I just don't happen to.

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"...it is regularly taught and testified of in LDS churches that God loves each of us, that he is intricately involved in our daily lives...that he hears and answers all prayers...that God has a specific plan for each individual, that he desires our happiness and success and is just waiting for us to ask him for whatever we need or want, and whatever is righteous and properly prayed for we will receive.

Speaking of the underlined....While that may have been taught and testified to where you are, its certainly NOT doctrinal.

Sounds to me like someone's been watching the TV evangelical preachers to get that.

Edited by mnn727
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Speaking of the underlined....While that may have been taught and testified to where you are, its certainly NOT doctrinal.

Sounds to me like someone's been watching the TV evangelical preachers to get that.

Now that I think of it, it does sound a bit evangelical! I confess that I have not watched a TV evangelist in a long, long time, so I don't really know what they teach these days.

I have come to the conclusion many of these things are not doctrinal, as you have apparently. Admittedly I have not been to church in 10 years, and maybe it's not taught as much as previous times, but those things have been clearly talked about and testified about in church meetings at least since my baptism in 1981. I have actually only been a member of three wards in that time, exclusive of missionary time, so my experiences may be limited. I do watch at least parts of General Conference (because it's on at my house, fairly loudly I might add) and I am sure I hear similar things regularly taught there.

Thank you for your post.

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@estradling75: Again, my apologies if I offend, that is not my intention. I think you and I can agree to disagree. One thing I might point out in our conversation, however, is that we use the word "know" differently. I reject the LDS definition of know, and use the word believe in most instances where you might use know. Beyond that it is a matter of faith. You have faith in some things that I do not - likely based on each of our individual experiences.

@FunkyTown: "I wonder you don't go into parliament." (Ebenezer Scrooge) You can spin whatever way you like, I did not come here to argue and in fact didn't even come here to express my point of view explicitly (and certainly nowhere as explicitly as I have). I am not sure we can agree to disagree because your mind is made up based on whatever assumptions you have made. I stand by what I have said and will risk one more quote (with a disclaimer that I do not equate the Church or the gospel with Star Wars): "...many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

To all, thank you for your mostly thoughtful posts, please see below.

Edited by Dark_Jedi
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Speaking of the underlined....While that may have been taught and testified to where you are, its certainly NOT doctrinal.

Sounds to me like someone's been watching the TV evangelical preachers to get that.

"...it is regularly taught and testified of in LDS churches that God loves each of us, that he is intricately involved in our daily lives...that he hears and answers all prayers...that God has a specific plan for each individual, that he desires our happiness and success and is just waiting for us to ask him for whatever we need or want, and whatever is righteous and properly prayed for we will receive.

God is intricately involved in our daily lives. God does hear and answer all prayers. God has a specific plan for each individual. God desires nothing but our happiness and success. If we ask God in faith for the right things, He will give them to us.

Every one of those points are doctrine and truth.

Regards,

Finrock

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@estradling75: Again, my apologies if I offend, that is not my intention. I think you and I can agree to disagree. One thing I might point out in our conversation, however, is that we use the word "know" differently. I reject the LDS definition of know, and use the word believe in most instances where you might use know. Beyond that it is a matter of faith. You have faith in some things that I do not - likely based on each of our individual experiences.

I understand your point... I could say I know the sun will rise tomorrow... Or I could say I believe the sun will rise tomorrow. Both statements would be based on my personal experiences with the sun rising and what I have learned with how the Sun works (which I fully admit is incomplete). I choose to use the word know because my personal experience has rendered me that confident. If I was less confident I would use the word believe.

That is just how I choose my words. I see no reason to change how I choose my words just because the subject matter changes to God.

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Thank you all for your posts. I have a few reflections and a final thought. I have reflected upon my interactions with those of other faiths, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant. My Orthodox Jewish Rabbi friend has taught me over the years exactly how tolerant most Jews are of others within their faith who believe differently. Although he is obviously a strict observant, he respects those who are Conservative and Reform and I truly believe they are no different in his eyes. Catholics are also very tolerant of each other - it is apparent that almost none of them believe everything their church teaches. My Protestant friends are likewise quite tolerant of varying beliefs. My two atheist acquaintances are not quite as tolerant, but they are respectful.

Based upon a really a couple of posts, I have reached the conclusion that there probably is room in the Church for those like me as long as we remain quiet (which I would). My attendance is not going to happen this Sunday, but could within the next few months. I htink the above mentioned tolerance will have at least some impact on my attendance, because I certainly don't need to be harassed or looked down upon.

That said, thank you again for your comments. I never came here to espouse my point of view nor did I come here to try to persuade anyone else to think differently. And I certainly did not come here to argue. I offer my sincere apologies for the times when I was so easily led off track from my inquiry. I have started private message conversations with a couple of you, and I am not opposed to such further conversations as long as they remain respectful. As far as I am concerned, this thread has served its purpose and lived its life - I will no longer be participating.

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I believe that there are those who believe and there are those who know. The 46th section of the Doctrine and Covenants covers that some.

10 And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.

11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.

15 And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.

16 And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.

17 And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.

18 To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.

19 And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;

20 And to others it is given to have faith to heal.

21 And again, to some is given the working of miracles;

22 And to others it is given to prophesy;

23 And to others the discerning of spirits.

24 And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;

25 And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.

26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.

I believe that many who say "I know" do so out of tradition or wanting to appear to know. I believe that most believe and some know.

As a young missionary I taught I believe these things to be true. It wasn't until my mid 40's that I received a witness that they were true and I could say "I know".

There is nothing wrong with believing ones whole life that the things are true.

Good luck in your search and know that it is ok to just believe and live by faith.

Ben Raines

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OK, mia culpa, mia culpa, please forgive me, I know I said I wasn't coming back to this thread. But I just reread Seth Payne's address at the Fair Conference and I believe all of you would get some benefit from it. It's not long and it's not anti-Mormon in any way. Please enjoy. 2013 Why Mormonism Matters: Pastoral Apologetics and the LDS Doubter « FAIR

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You came here to be convinced of what you already had inklings for.

Well done, even if you may have disrupted some peoples logic tree and your own. It is quite a splendid thing that your objective was accomplished in a fairly diplomatic way and only the few people who felt that their toes were trod on, stayed accommodating.

Bravo.

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God is intricately involved in our daily lives. God does hear and answer all prayers. God has a specific plan for each individual. God desires nothing but our happiness and success. If we ask God in faith for the right things, He will give them to us.

Every one of those points are doctrine and truth.

Regards,

Finrock

Would you like to prove that from DOCTRINAL sources?

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Hi mnn727. I hope you are doing well today! :)

Would you like to prove that from DOCTRINAL sources?

I would be happy to provide doctrinal references for all of those points. I can think of a few doctrinal references off the top of my head, but I want to be able to provide you with a complete answer which I will get to when I have more time. Just wanted to let you know that I intend to answer your question.

Sincerely,

Finrock

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Good Afternoon mnn727. I hope you've been well. :)

As promised here is Part 1 of my response to your question. I will answer the other questions in another post.

Would you like to prove that from DOCTRINAL sources?

God is intricately involved in our daily lives.

First, there is something to be learned from the pattern found in all scripture. Taken as a whole, the scriptures testify that God is intricately involved in our daily lives. For instance, much of the Doctrine and Covenants came about because God was involved with the everyday and sometimes mundane affairs of the Church and its members. Specific guidance was given to individuals from God.

God is no respector of persons (D&C 1:34-35), therefore all of God's children receive the same attention and care from their loving Father in Heaven.

3 ¶If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.

7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.

8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.

10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.

11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

13 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright

80 And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a chair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst.

81 Therefore, take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.

82 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these.

83 For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.

9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

10 And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.

11 And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

Finally, what is the Gift of the Holy Ghost but having the Spirit with you always. When one lives by the Spirit, God is working through that individual in ALL that they do.

God does hear and answer all prayers.

As far as God hearing all prayers - He knows our thoughts. He knows what EVERYONE is praying about even before they pray for it.

29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

God also answers all prayers of faith uttered to Him.

7 ¶Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

Regards,

Finrock

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Good afternoon mnn727. I hope you are doing well today! :)

Here is Part 2 and covers the rest of the assertions I made.

God has a specific plan for each individual.

The scriptures say that there is a plan of redemption (Alma 22:13). This is also called the plan of salvation or the plan of happiness. This is the general plan that God has for us. When the scriptures mention the plan of redemption specifically they are talking about this general plan of redemption which outlines the pattern by which mankind can be saved.

So, where is the individual plan? To see this it is helpful to take a look at the examples found in scripture. The prophets and apostles in the scriptures provided a testimony of the reality of the general plan of redemption because they had individually experienced and lived according to the plan of redemption. As we look at the lives of the prophets and study their experiences we will see that their lives included all of the elements of the plan of redemption but each experience was unique to the individual. For instance, the plan of redemption requires suffering. It requires being tested and tried. Moses suffered and was tested differently than Abraham. Joseph Smith suffered and was tested differently than Enoch. However, their experiences all fell in to a pattern found in the plan of redemption which is that our purification requires us to go through the refiners fire.

God has a general plan of redemtion that applies to all but which He individualizes based on the needs, desires, and what is the best for each of His children. This individuality is seen in the patterns and examples found in the lives of the prophets and apostles as recorded in scritpure. Our challenge is to liken the patterns and examples found in the scripture to our own lives so that we too can testify about the plan of redemption because we have experienced it individually and personally.

This individuality is also seen in how God has given us gifts and the circumstances He has placed us. Not everyone has the same gifts and not everyone has the same circumstances.

Regarding gifts...

11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

Regarding circumstances...

19 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Come, let us go to the nethermost part of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches of the tree have not brought forth much fruit also, that I may lay up of the fruit thereof against the season, unto mine own self.

20 And it came to pass that they went forth whither the master had hid the natural branches of the tree, and he said unto the servant: Behold these; and he beheld the first that it had brought forth much fruit; and he beheld also that it was good. And he said unto the servant: Take of the fruit thereof, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self; for behold, said he, this long time have I nourished it, and it hath brought forth much fruit.

21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.

22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.

By the way, all of Jacob 5 testifies how intimately and carefully God attends to His children. One day we will know and see all that has been done for us while we were in mortality.

God desires nothing but our happiness and success.

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Eternal life, by definition means a fullness of joy. God's work and glory is to bring to pass the fullness of joy in mankind. This principle is reaffirmed in the Book of Mormon.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

Further, as I mentioned already, another name for God's plan is the plan of happiness.

The whole of all of the commandments is that they provide us the instructions on what we need to do to have a fullness of joy. Obedience to God is happiness. God desires that ALL of His children obey Him. He wants all of His children to be saved and to be happy.

If we ask God in faith for the right things, He will give them to us.

I think I covered this already in my first post. Clearly God answers the prayers of the faithful. He has promised that anything we ask that is right He will give us.

35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

Then of course there is James 1

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

Regards,

Finrock

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