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Oh Lord, Where Do We Go From Here? Current and former members (and anyone in between!)... tell us what is on your mind and in your heart.

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Old 11-23-2013, 05:42 PM   #1
Chris Fleming
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Default Good Material

Did elders/full-time-ers actually refer to people with that term, or conversely, as "poor material"? I've not heard of that directly when I was there but the unspoken message was definitely there--that there is a certain kind of person that the LSM churches are targeting and there are different classes of people there.


In Austin there is a heavy focus on college freshmen gospel preaching and campus outreach...to the point of exclusivity even. I've been in meetings where they say not to even bother trying to speak to people older than college freshmen. The goal seems to be to attract kids with a similar personality--those who will utterly throw themselves into the "church life", literally meeting every day in some form or another and eventually progressing to attending the LSM training, which I hear is now 3 or 4 years long.

In one meeting, a girl was testifying that a classmate of hers was meeting with her LSM campus meeting and also another Christian group's meeting. When she "shared" that her friend eventually stopped going to her other group in favor of going to the LSM group exclusively, everyone cheered.

Is this what they mean when they say they are looking for "good material"?

Why that kind of thinking isn't completely abhorrent to any normal Christian is beyond me, but then again, I most certainly would be considered "poor material" in their eyes...
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Good Material

Austin is one of the most LSM-extreme churches. For many years, they were *praised* by Brother Lee and many others for having a campus work that should be a pattern to other localities. When I was in the FTTA, we were told that the "God-ordained Way" worked there. Some brothers even gave messages from there through web simulcast to talk about how things are done there. There was even a so-called "internship" there if you were interested in serving on campus after FTTA (now the internship is in Boston). There was a brother who was quite wealthy there and supported the *work*. They were able to have 10 times the number of full-timers compared to the other churches. When the brother who supported all the work was no longer able to, the number of full-time serving ones had to be decreased back to a normal number. Today, Austin is still the place where they have their bi-annual (once every 2 years) re-union for all the campus teams across the USA (sometimes even from other countries).

I have friends that were in the local church there, but they had to move to another localities because they couldn't handle the focus of the church life being on the college students all the time. Once they moved, they were much happier. The church life was more normal. Chris, your experience of the church life may be pretty warped because you come from a hardcore locality.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Good Material

I'm sure other places are less extreme, however I've heard that others were very legalistic. Boston, or should I say, the-church-in-Cambridge, was nice. Rather formal, but nice. I'm rather certain that if I were to move to a different city the "church life" there would contact Austin to find out about me--not that I'm special, just heard that such a practice is standard ops. Gossip masked as fellowship.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Good Material

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I'm sure other places are less extreme, however I've heard that others were very legalistic. Boston, or should I say, the-church-in-Cambridge, was nice. Rather formal, but nice. I'm rather certain that if I were to move to a different city the "church life" there would contact Austin to find out about me--not that I'm special, just heard that such a practice is standard ops. Gossip masked as fellowship.
It really depends where you go and how deeply you get involved. I'm not suggesting that you return to the LCs. I'm just saying that had you been in another locality, things *may* have been different. Boston is probably going to become very LSM oriented over the next few years due to their FTTA extension program.
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: Good Material

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Originally Posted by Chris Fleming View Post
Did elders/full-time-ers actually refer to people with that term, or conversely, as "poor material"? I've not heard of that directly when I was there but the unspoken message was definitely there--that there is a certain kind of person that the LSM churches are targeting and there are different classes of people there...

Why that kind of thinking isn't completely abhorrent to any normal Christian is beyond me, but then again, I most certainly would be considered "poor material" in their eyes...
I was in an FTTA meeting where the subject came up. A 'trainee' was conflicted because her 'material' wasn't what she expected. The trainer was blunt: "Don't waste your time". Those words burned into my heart. I was incredulous. What did he mean!? It seemed so antithetical to the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine Jesus looking at the lepers, the blind, the cripples, and telling His disciples, "Don't waste your time"? I was shocked.

At that point I was still unabashedly 'positive' for the 'church life' and whatever 'flows' came through, which usually had the Austin/Anaheim flavor. But I rejected that speaking, and the thinking behind it. I still do, and probably always will. I don't see how they can convince me that the Spirit of Jesus was pointing that way. Jesus said, "When I was sick you visited Me..." He didn't say, "When I was good building material you visited Me."

Perhaps the LSM folks are afraid of the sick because it exposes their program as a fraud, that there is little or no 'resurrection power' there. So they gather in their safe places and speak fancy words to one another, and congratulate each other for having arrived.
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Good Material

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
I was in an FTTA meeting where the subject came up. A 'trainee' was conflicted because her 'material' wasn't what she expected. The trainer was blunt: "Don't waste your time". Those words burned into my heart. I was incredulous. What did he mean!? It seemed so antithetical to the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine Jesus looking at the lepers, the blind, the cripples, and telling His disciples, "Don't waste your time"? I was shocked.

At that point I was still unabashedly 'positive' for the 'church life' and whatever 'flows' came through, which usually had the Austin/Anaheim flavor. But I rejected that speaking, and the thinking behind it. I still do, and probably always will. I don't see how they can convince me that the Spirit of Jesus was pointing in another direction. "When I was sick you visited Me..." It doesn't say, "When I was good building material you visited Me."

Perhaps the LSM folks are afraid of the sick because it exposes their program as a fraud, that there is little or no 'resurrection power' there. So they gather in their safe places and speak fancy words to one another, and congratulate each other for having arrived.
Aron, usually when I have heard the term "good material" it indicates someone with high potential to have the vision for the ministry. My perception is the "LSM folks" as you phrased it, do not want to labor on believers or non-believers who would require much time and effort.
Believers who are more Christ focused and not ministry focused would not be considered "good material".
Much more within the local churches, if you are considered "good material", you will receive much attention and shepherding. If you are not considered "good material" it is as "we still want you in the meetings. Until you catch on fire for the ministry, you will not receive the care we give to others who exhibit more promise." This is apparent through James 2:1-3

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:04 AM   #7
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Default Re: Good Material

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Perhaps the LSM folks are afraid of the sick because it exposes their program as a fraud, that there is little or no 'resurrection power' there. So they gather in their safe places and speak fancy words to one another, and congratulate each other for having arrived.
Another frameable quote from the LCD training center.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:26 AM   #8
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Aron, usually when I have heard the term "good material" it indicates someone with high potential to have the vision for the ministry. My perception is the "LSM folks" as you phrased it, do not want to labor on believers or non-believers who would require much time and effort.
Here's my story.

I was the 2nd oldest in a huge cat'lic family of nine kids. My folks' goal (primarily my Dad's) was to send us all to 12 years of parochial education, and then jettison us off into the world. After one year of college at Cleveland State Univ. all my high school savings was gone. It was now "pay as you go." While working at a co-op internship, I got wonderfully saved by the Lord, through a new friend who also just got saved.

Later on I then found the church in Cleveland while I was working. Everyone else my age was a student in college. Nobody "labored" on me, but there I was ... "sold out for Christ and the church," almost overnight. All the church's focus and activity was on the college students. They were the recipients of huge investments of church capital, both time and money and prayer.

Needless to say, I felt a little out of place. Since I was employed, they put me with the young working couples (think community!) I continually felt like I was missing all the fun. I was placed in home meetings with little kids, while all the students my age were doing fun things and going places, especially during the school breaks, and all these activities were church sponsored, while I was expected to help "pay their way" by my giving. But I was working so that I could afford my next quarter of school!

Yikes, I was not good material! Everybody knew it. Good for giving money, but not good for investing church resources into. Sorry buddy!
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:59 AM   #9
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Yikes, I was not good material! Everybody knew it. Good for giving money, but not good for investing church resources into.
What a story. Evidently you were not on the "fast track" and everyone knew it. You were on your own.

Terry's quote of James chapter 2 is most appropriate.

"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”

Look at the words 'special attention', given to the 'good building material', in the assembly that James is observing. It's the exact opposite of what Christ did, and which Paul probably alluded to in 1 Corinthians 12:23,24. Christ gave 'special attention' to the poor, the sick, the fatherless, the outcast, the ones nobody else respected. Why? Because 1) the Father loved them as much as anyone, and 2) the world had rejected them as unfit, so their attitude had been turned from one of arrogance to repentance.

See for example, when Jesus went to His hometown (Mark 6). Everybody who was 'well' had no use for Him. He was, so they said, just a carpenter's son. The sick, however, stuck in their condition, found themselves being more openminded... "Hey! Maybe Jesus is the Christ!"
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:02 AM   #10
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Default Re: Good Material

Similarly, look who congregated around Jesus: the sinners. Drunkards, harlots, and tax collectors - gasp! - not good building material at all!
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:25 AM   #11
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Default Less than the least of all the saints

Look at how Paul described himself. "Less than the least of all the saints." (Eph 3:8). Where does Paul intimate that his ministry is uber alles, and that everyone needs to be one with him in order to be one with the Body of Christ?

Let's consider a kingdom. It is unseen, but it is eternal. And in this kingdom it is different than the visible, temporary world. In the invisible kingdom, what is least in the visible world has become greatest. And what is first in the kingdom is what was last in the visible world.

So when Paul wrote that he was the least of all, I propose the possibility that he wasn't joking. Paul didn't consider himself the MOTA; rather he knew that such considerations would immediately disqualify him from reward in the invisible kingdom, which was surely coming. So Paul became nothing. Or at least he tried.

Contrast that to people who need to be in charge, and think that if everyone isn't "one" with their ministry then they are on the "outs" of this invisible kingdom. In other words, the people who think this way have made a direct, one-to-one correlation with the visible world and the kingdom. If they are "great" in this age they will be likewise in the next. This is opposed to the teaching of Jesus, both in Spirit and in letter.

And this goes back to James chapter 2. If we look in the meeting and a CEO of a fortune 500 company comes in, or a student at an Ivy League school comes in we slaver them with attention. They are the "good material" for building, so we suppose. But my point is that our supposition is running against the clear reality conveyed to us in God's word, that the kingdom is not according to our natural concepts, senses, and considerations. In this I propose that Paul's "I am the least of all" is right in line with Jesus.

So "good material/bad material" and "college-age/community saints" and "serving ones/responsible ones/small potatoes" are all according to this fallen logic. The simple fact is:

1) We don't know. Only God knows;
2) If we make evaluations on this side of the Bema we surely will be unpleasantly surprised;
3) If we want to be great in the kingdom we should allow ourselves to be very 'small' in this age;
4) And those who try to elevate themselves above the flock, insisting that their 'leadership' is somehow essential for unity, direction, care, etc. are disqualified. Ignore them.

Now, we can serve. Some are gifted, and their service will be evident. Paul was clearly such a case. But was Paul 'over' Peter? Or John? Did Paul presume any authority that James must defer to him for the 'move of the Lord', or the 'feeling of the Body'?

Any presumption of 'place' in this world, will be very unhappily reversed in the next age. Beware. You can minister, yes. You should minister (see Jesus to Peter in John chapter 21). But don't assume some pride of place for your ministry, nor associate your ministry with that of another (If I build up so-and-so's ministry, mine will also rise). If you make those assessments in this age they will be ruined by fire. Jesus made that very clear, and I think Paul clearly agreed, and lined himself up with that. Don't build with hay or stubble.
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:52 AM   #12
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Default Re: Less than the least of all the saints

"Good material" is an insult to God's grace, and love for that matter.

It implies that some people are worth saving more than others, and God doesn't feel that way. Further it implies that God would rather have some people in His Church than others, and he doesn't feel that way either.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:22 AM   #13
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And this goes back to James chapter 2. If we look in the meeting and a CEO of a fortune 500 company comes in, or a student at an Ivy League school comes in we slaver them with attention. They are the "good material" for building, so we suppose. But my point is that our supposition is running against the clear reality conveyed to us in God's word, that the kingdom is not according to our natural concepts, senses, and considerations. In this I propose that Paul's "I am the least of all" is right in line with Jesus.
For a collection of Christians who pride themselves above all others for their obsession with oneness, how is it they have missed all the ingredients prescribed in the scriptures which are necessary for oneness?

Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, "For our attractive members have no need: but God hath tempered [blended?] the body together, having given more abundant honor to those members which need it. That there should be no schism in the body; because all the members should have the same care one for another." (I Cor. 12. 24-25)

Same care? God is blending the body together? More honor to the members who lack? This is the "God-ordained way" to keep the oneness? Give more honor to the unattractive misfits? That the body would not be divided? When did this happen?

How in the world could Lee and LSM have missed these verses? And to think their favorite ministry buzzword -- blending -- is found right here, and no place else in the scripture. How is it that Witness Lee can plainly teach us in his acclaimed Life Study, (I Cor. p. 528) "In the body life the same care should be given to all the different members. Difference in care causes divisions," and yet the practice of his local churches runs so contrary? After this word about "same care," Lee launches into his favorite pastime proclaiming how all Christianity is divided and exclusive, and we alone are not.

How can this be?
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:18 PM   #14
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I was in an FTTA meeting where the subject came up. A 'trainee' was conflicted because her 'material' wasn't what she expected. The trainer was blunt: "Don't waste your time". Those words burned into my heart. I was incredulous. What did he mean!? It seemed so antithetical to the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
"Don't waste your time" is a very common phrase in the Recovery especially among full-time workers. The idea is they they need to maximize their "profit" by working on people they feel would be successful within the program. The whole thing is run like a business to increase the number in the church with certain types of people so that they can boast of their success.
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:44 PM   #15
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"Don't waste your time" is a very common phrase in the Recovery especially among full-time workers. The idea is they they need to maximize their "profit" by working on people they feel would be successful within the program. The whole thing is run like a business to increase the number in the church with certain types of people so that they can boast of their success.
This is key. Good material is not about speaking the gospel indiscrimately, but discriminately who would best fit into our church structure. Who embraces the vision of the ministry that can be added to the church.
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Old 11-25-2013, 04:13 PM   #16
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This whole "good material" thing just makes me want to puke! Where's the puking (or "put your finger down my throat") emoticon when you need it?
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Old 11-25-2013, 04:59 PM   #17
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This whole "good material" thing just makes me want to puke! Where's the puking (or "put your finger down my throat") emoticon when you need it?
That is the visceral response, and it's understood. I didn't like it, on a number of levels, when I was an LC die-hard.

But now it really seems emblematic of a deep spiritual point, for me, and so is perhaps worth examining. So overcome your repugnance, for a minute, and bear with me:

The God of the universe lowered Himself and became something very small and despised on this earth: a Galilean in occupied Judea. And before He left the earth this One told those around him, "When I was in prison you visited me", and "When I was sick you took care of me". This incredible Being was willing to manifest himself to us as a sick person! As an incarcerated person! Amazing! God lowers himself, down below us even, and then watches us, how we will treat Him. Do we despise these poor ones? God uses them to expose our heart.

This, I believe, is what James referenced in chapter 2 of his epistle. The believers were instinctively discriminating according to "good material" and "bad". And James called them on it.

Two parables come to mind - first is of the Master of the vineyard in Luke 20. He sent emissaries to represent him. Some of these emissaries may have been bald (2 Kings 2:23) and we might want to make fun of them. Or their teeth are crooked, or they have exzema, or they have a limp, or they stammer. God does this deliberately: we are expecting some big dude on a white horse looking like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cary Grant, but in His wisdom God sends someone small, weak and pock-marked.

So that "nobody" next to you; they may be far "above" you in the kingdom. As Jesus said, the wise course is to assume just that, and take the last place (Luke 14:9,10). Because, frankly, none of us knows. So take the safe course and assume you are the "least of all the saints", as Paul said in Ephesians 3.

The second parable is of the Sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, when Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do to me." Again, I think that word "least" is important. If you look at the Master's teaching, he repeatedly stressed this.

So the whole "good material" idea simply flies in the face of all of this. It has a rather large stack of Biblical teaching going against it.

This is why I said WN & WL got caught by a bad idea. And, subsequently, there were a lot of things which they swallowed, and we in turn, even though instinctively we all knew something was off. Once we accept their premise, we find ourselves "covering Noah" even though we instinctively feel that something does not jive. We find ourselves nodding in agreement about how "poor" Christianity is, even though we know that we are not supposed to judge others. And so on.

I guess my point is that once you uncritically accept a bad premise, it is amazing how far it will take you. At some point you would think the disconnect would become evident, but it's amazing how far our bad thinking will take us past the "flashing red light" warning us. The whole "good material" nonsense is Exhibit A. The "ministry of the age" is Exhibit B. "One Publication" is Exhibit C. I could go on.
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:16 PM   #18
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This, I believe, is what James referenced in chapter 2 of his epistle. The believers were instinctively discriminating according to "good material" and "bad". And James called them on it.

So the whole "good material" idea simply flies in the face of all of this. It has a rather large stack of Biblical teaching going against it.
Those that have bought into the "good material" teaching are actually contradicting God's Word.

He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. John 16:14

The focus should be indiscriminately glorifying Christ and not by showing "distinctions among yourselves" by deciding who is good material and who is not. Without the redeeming blood of Christ, we are all bad material.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:59 AM   #19
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Without the redeeming blood of Christ, we are all bad material.
Ain't that the truth!
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:15 AM   #20
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Those that have bought into the "good material" teaching are actually contradicting God's Word.

He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. John 16:14

The focus should be indiscriminately glorifying Christ and not by showing "distinctions among yourselves" by deciding who is good material and who is not. Without the redeeming blood of Christ, we are all bad material.
But redemption has little to do with good material. The really good material in the local church, and other churches as well are, those take make a lot of money, or have the potential to do so.

I've seen it. A brother in the C. in Ft. Lauderdale who had little to offer spiritually, became a successful stock broker, and was making a lot of money. As a result he moved straight up the ranks in the LRC. That's the good material they seek.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:06 AM   #21
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But redemption has little to do with good material. The really good material in the local church, and other churches as well are, those take make a lot of money, or have the potential to do so.

I've seen it. A brother in the C. in Ft. Lauderdale who had little to offer spiritually, became a successful stock broker, and was making a lot of money. As a result he moved straight up the ranks in the LRC. That's the good material they seek.
IIRC, one of the Blendeds actually got "blended" into the leadership due to his substantial wealth.

That's what I call good material.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:37 PM   #22
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But redemption has little to do with good material. The really good material in the local church, and other churches as well are, those take make a lot of money, or have the potential to do so.

I've seen it. A brother in the C. in Ft. Lauderdale who had little to offer spiritually, became a successful stock broker, and was making a lot of money. As a result he moved straight up the ranks in the LRC. That's the good material they seek.
Another way to spin good material. There have been reports before; a brother of substantial wealth placed in a position of "responsibility". Even going back to the time of Daystar, the scheme isn't launched if a certain brother doesn't receive a substantial inheritance.
Generally speaking it wouldn't be far fetched to see medical students identfied as good material over carpenters.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:52 PM   #23
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Another way to spin good material. There have been reports before; a brother of substantial wealth placed in a position of "responsibility". Even going back to the time of Daystar, the scheme isn't launched if a certain brother doesn't receive a substantial inheritance.
Generally speaking it wouldn't be far fetched to see medical students identfied as good material over carpenters.
Or college students over high school dropouts.
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