Second Thoughts: Of Lizzie and Noah

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Department, Living Church of God


One of my oldest friends is outside of God’s Church and extremely “liberal.”

Let’s call her Lizzie instead of her real name, because though she’ll probably never read this, I don’t want to embarrass her if she does. Sometimes I’ve caught myself thinking, “Wow, Lizzie and I have been friends for years, and we’ve talked quite a bit about religion and spirituality, but I’ve never once gotten her interested in the Church at all. Am I doing something wrong? Am I representing the truth badly?

Have you ever asked yourself questions like that?

One Hundred Years of Solitude


Mr. Rod McNair gave this week’s fascinating assembly, and he shared a multitude of statistics and numbers concerning the Living Church of God’s membership, worldwide impact, growth rate, and more. But the first number was zero, because that, as Mr. McNair said, is the number of people that were called into God’s truth during Noah’s one hundred years of preaching it while building the ark.

It definitely wasn’t that Noah was a bad example of God’s way—it just wasn’t the time for the people around him to be called. And I’ll bet that during those one hundred years, the foundation was laid for some very interesting conversations Noah will be having in the Great White Throne Judgment with those who refused to set foot aboard the ark.

In the individual ministries we each lead with our personal examples, we should continually question whether we are, in fact, being the best example we could be, but we can’t measure that by “number of booklets I’ve talked people into reading.”

The question is…

Do We Wear It Well?

If we’re putting on the whole armor of God, do we make it look awkward and restrictive? When we raise the sword of God as we tell our unconverted friends what His word says, do we make that sword look heavy, burdensome, and unwieldy? Or do we make it clear that it is honorable and a privilege to wield this sword, to wear this armor?

Several years ago, Lizzie and I had a debate over whether homosexuality should be considered a sin. Did I successfully convince her to adopt God’s point of view? Not even close, and she didn’t convince me of anything, either. But at the end of the conversation, I remember her saying, “I can’t believe how civil and friendly this discussion was. Thank you for presenting your points with kindness and respect.” I sincerely thanked her for doing the same, and we’re friends to this day.

Now, as you’re well aware, not everyone out in the world handles disagreement as gracefully as Lizzie. But that’s not our problem. We’re responsible for whether or not we handle it gracefully. We can’t compromise on the truth, but if we’re making the truth look like something only unfriendly, disagreeable people believe in, aren’t we doing it a disservice?

If our Lizzies, whoever they are, can’t stand to talk about moral principles with us at all, it might be time to change our approach. But if we can talk about such subjects with them, even if they never read a single article in Tomorrow’s World magazine, we don’t need to get discouraged—Noah wouldn’t have gotten Lizzie to step on the ark.

Someday, in the Millennium or Great White Throne Judgment, I’m really looking forward to having a more groundbreaking conversation with Lizzie. And I’m grateful to God that in this life, He’s laid a foundation for it.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 3: Lesson 47 “Huldah”

Featured Passage: 2 Kings 22-23


 When Josiah became king of Judah, God’s beautiful temple in Jerusalem had been neglected and the people were worshiping idols. They had forgotten God’s law. It was during this time that a woman named Huldah was serving as a prophetess in Judah. King Josiah had instructed the priests to repair the damages done to the temple, and while working on it the workers found the book of the Law which they quickly brought to the king. Josiah, deeply distressed upon learning God’s expectations for His people, told his men to seek out the word of the Lord to discover what God was planning to do to Judah because of their sins. And to whom did the men go? To Huldah the prophetess, of course!

Discuss:

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  • What is the purpose of prophecy? How does God usually present prophecy to His people? 
  • Can you name any other prophetesses mentioned in the Bible? (There are several women called prophetesses in both the Old and New Testaments)
  • How do you think the king knew where to find Huldah? 
  • What did God reveal to Huldah to tell King Josiah?
  • How did King Josiah react to Huldah’s prophecies? Why was Judah’s punishment delayed? What can we learn from Josiah’s example?
  • Josiah and Huldah served God in different ways. What are some ways we can prepare to serve God?

Memory Challenge: 

2 Kings 22:19 

“…because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 2: Lesson 47 “Joshua: The Courage to Lead”

Featured Passage: Deuteronomy 31-34, Joshua 1


The Children of Israel had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years and it was finally time to go into the land God promised them. Moses was now one hundred and twenty years old! He had lived a long and very exciting life, but God would not allow him to enter the Promised Land. It was time for Moses to sleep and await the resurrection. God gave Joshua the charge to lead Israel, but before Joshua could take on his new role, God had a few things to say to him.

Discuss:

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  • God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). What did God tell Moses to do to ensure an orderly transition of leadership? (Numbers 27 gives some more details about this as well)
  • What jobs did Joshua have over the forty-year period which trained him for leading Israel? 
  • What was one of the last things Moses told Joshua before he died?
  • What is courage? Does being courageous mean we are never afraid? What does it mean to be strong and courageous? From where do we ultimately get our strength?

Memory Challenge: 

Deuteronomy 31:7 

Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it.”


Children’s Bible Program – Level 1: Lesson 47 “God Chooses a New King”

Featured Passage: 1 Samuel 16


King Saul made some very poor decisions and disobeyed God’s directions. God no longer wanted  Saul to be king and Samuel told Saul what God had decided. Though Saul did not know it, God already had a new king in mind. God told Samuel to go to Bethlehem, a small town where a man named Jesse lived. Jesse had eight sons, and God had picked one of them to be anointed as king of Israel. Samuel looked at Jesse’s tall and handsome sons and thought he could guess who God picked. But God sees characteristics we do not see, and he had a perfect choice in mind that no one ever expected.

 Discuss:

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  • When Samuel saw him, he was sure that Eliab was the one God had chosen. What was it about Eliab that made Samuel feel this way? How did God respond?
  • Why was Samuel having a feast? Was David invited?  
  • David was a young lad when he was chosen to be the next king of Israel. What do you think it would be like for him to be told he would be the next king at such an early age?
  • David was the youngest of his brothers, and he tended his father’s sheep. What lessons do you think David learned from being a shepherd? Do you have any responsibilities at home? What is it like to have that responsibility?
  • What instrument did David play while he was caring for the sheep? Why was David given the job of playing music for Saul? God often uses us for the skills that we develop. What skills are you working on or would you like to master as you grow up? In what ways do you think God could use those skills?

Memory Challenge:

1 Samuel 16:7

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


3 steps to writing an outstanding autobiography that will help boost your application

You have been considering applying to LivingEd-Charlotte and you find yourself scanning through the list of requirements to complete your application.

Basic info? Check. Official transcripts? Check. Recommendations? Easy. Autobiographical essay? Wait…what? Oh no, not an essay!

The very name Autobiographical Essay has sort of a daunting effect. But don’t let it scare you, and certainly don’t let it be the reason you decide not to finish your application! Writing an essay may not be your favorite activity, but if you apply these three basic principles to your writing, you’ll find this task is a cinch! Also, you’ll have all the ingredients to please the admissions panel.

The following tips are written to aid students who are applying to our LivingEd-Charlotte program. All applicants are required to submit an autobiographical essay as part of their application.

1.) Be Focused

The first element the panel is looking for is how completely you answered the prompt. There are four content elements that need to be included. Be sure to carefully answer each issue. Since there is a length requirement of 3-5 double-spaced pages it is necessary to get to the point and not become too wordy. The panel is looking for complete answers with relevant detail – enough to give some context, not too much to hold interest.

2.) Be Professional

These days, many students fall into the trap of casual writing. Writing about yourself means writing the way you speak, right?  Nope. It means presenting who you are in an academic context. So, use a clear, easy-to-follow format, full sentences, proper grammar, and suitable vocabulary. Certainly your personality can, and should, come through when you write an essay about yourself, but it’s good to always keep in mind your audience which in this case is the admissions panel for a 9-month educational program. Sure, the panel wants to get a better sense of who you are by the time they finish reading your essay, so let them be left with a sense of your skillful attention to your use of words. 

Quick Tip: Read, read, and re-read through your essay before you submit! Small, unchecked errors show a lack of consideration for detail on the part of the writer. You want to be sure that it is you who catches all the little spelling and grammar errors in your writing, not the guy reviewing your completed application.

3.) Be Real

In other words, be honest about who you are. While you want to present a polished essay, it’s okay to allow your personality to come through in your writing! Remember, the panel wants to get to know YOU! They want to learn what you are about, what some of your goals are, who you look up to, and why you want to come to Charlotte to spend nine months with a bunch of young people to learn about God’s way. While this is not the place to get super personal, you can certainly allow your own charm and unique characteristics to be evident in how you present yourself.

So that’s it! Be focused, professional, and real! If you think about these principles as you prepare your autobiography, you’ll be that much closer to stepping on-campus as an official member of the LivingEd-Charlotte family. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get writing!


Ready to begin your application? Begin Here!

Second Thoughts: Relax Your Brain, but Keep It On

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Department, Living Church of God


Have you read a good book lately? In our latest Assembly, Dr. Douglas Winnail challenged the Living Education students to read. Read non-fiction. Read fiction. Just read good books.

But here’s a thought.

Even though we’re a small group of people who basically believe in the same fundamental truths and principles, we all probably have a slightly different idea of what constitutes a good book when it comes to fiction.

Uncertain answers

There are a lot of questions and no certain answers. Is it sinful to watch fiction of any kind? What about reading fiction? What if there are space aliens in the book we’re reading? What if there’s magic in it? What if a character fornicates or is a homosexual? What if a character is divorced, or says a bad word, or goes bowling on the Sabbath? Is the book evil if anybody kills anyone in it? Is a story fundamentally against God’s beautiful design of the universe if it contains a talking animal?

I’ll admit that I don’t know the answers. I mean, I have my ideas, my opinions, and so do you—but we could both be wrong, right? When it comes to this subject, we’re all learning. We all want to think like God, but we all have a long way to go. So, we’re not always sure.

Relaxed, yet ON

A few things, however, we can be certain of, and two of them go hand in hand—we all need to relax our brains sometimes, and we can never allow ourselves to turn our brains off. Let me put it this way: We all genuinely enjoy the company and conversation of at least one person outside the Church, right? Someone who doesn’t believe as we do. Maybe your dad is such a person for you, or your mom, or your brother or sister. If you’re close to this person, your brain is relaxed when you’re talking casually to them. You’re not obsessively analyzing everything this person is saying as they’re saying it, you’re just listening and enjoying.

But when this person you appreciate and enjoy says something like, “You know, gay couples should really just be allowed to live their lives as they want to,” something goes off in your brain, doesn’t it? Nope, says your brain. Not right. Not good. I disagree. Your overall opinion of this person’s mind doesn’t change, because you know there’s a lot of genuine value there, but you mentally slap a “’ Fraid not!” label on that particular part of their discourse and you move right along.

If our brains don’t do that when we’re relaxed—if, instead, we respond, even internally, with something like, “Say, that’s true! Gay couples really should be entitled to their lifestyle choices!”—then our brains aren’t just relaxed, they’re off. And when a brain is off, it’s just useless.

Low-power versus sleep mode

Like anything else, you can’t constantly run a brain at full blast—not if you want it to last, anyway—so we shouldn’t be afraid to relax it for a little bit. But while our brains are in low-power mode, we still have to resist the temptation to turn them off and stay alert to whatever Satan’s trying to slip in. When it comes to godly and ungodly fiction, there’s a lot that’s unclear, and a lot we don’t know, but I think we can all agree that just like anything else, fiction should never be consumed thoughtlessly.

Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have it all right, or to read something that doesn’t either—but while you’re reading a good book, keep your brain on.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 3: Lesson 46 “Isaiah and the King”

Featured Passage: 2 Kings 15-20


Isaiah was a prophet during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in the Kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel had not listened to the warnings of the prophets to turn from their evil practices, so God allowed them to be conquered and taken into captivity by the mighty Assyrian empire. God told Isaiah to warn the people of Judah that if they did not give up their idolatry and fully turn to God He would allow them to suffer the same consequences that Israel had suffered. King Hezekiah was on the throne at the time when the Assyrians conquered the northern Kingdom. Though his father Ahaz had been an evil king, Hezekiah was determined to follow God. He understood that the Assyrians would soon be coming after Judah, but he also remembered God’s promises, of which Isaiah helped remind him at a most decisive moment in the history of the kingdom of Judah.    

Discuss:

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  • There is a parallel account of the story of King Hezekiah in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 36-39). Compare the account with the one in 2 Kings. Does Isaiah add any details to the story? 
  • How was King Hezekiah different from the three previous kings of Judah? Why do you think God was with him (2 Kings 18:7)? 
  • When the Assyrian King Sennacherib threatened to destroy Jerusalem how did Hezekiah express his dependence on God? How can we use this example to put our hearts into our prayers when we talk to God?
  • What was God’s response to Hezekiah’s prayer about the armies of Assyria? 
  • What bad news did Isaiah bring to King Hezekiah? What did Hezekiah do after hearing this news? 
  • What miracle did God perform to show Hezekiah that his prayer was heard? 
  • Did Isaiah have good news for the people of Judah? What things did God charge against Judah? 

Memory Challenge:

2 Kings 18:5-7

He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.  For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 2: Lesson 46 “Moses’ Mistake”

Featured Passage: Numbers 20


The Israelites rebelled against God when they were supposed to go into the land God promised them, so as a punishment God made them wander in the desert for forty years. They were now getting close to the end of that time, but it seemed the people had not changed very much – they still complained and complained. One day, the congregation was made to camp in a place where there was no water. Instead of asking God for help, they were angry and complained to Moses and Aaron. God told Moses to gather the people together to witness a special miracle that God was going to perform to bring water from a rock. God had done this miracle before, only this time He wanted Moses to speak to the rock instead of hitting it with his staff as he had before. Moses was so angry with the people for all their complaining that he made a hasty mistake – a mistake which would change the course of his life. 

Discuss: 

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  1. Why do you think the people were the people complaining about not having water? What would it be like to be in the desert without water? 
  2. Why do you suppose the people didn’t ask God for help when they were in trouble? Why is it important that we ask God to help us when we are in trouble?
  3. What were God’s instructions to Moses and Aaron? What did Moses and Aaron actually do? 
  4. Why was God so angry with Moses? Have a look at Numbers 20:10. Was Moses giving God the credit for causing the miracle? What should have Moses said?
  5. What was Moses’ punishment for his mistake? What lessons can we learn from this story? 

Memory Challenge: 

Numbers 20:12

Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”