Digging Deeper: Open Thy Mouth Wide

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated reading time: 7 min. 19 sec.

Did you know that God offers to fulfill our needs abundantly if only we were so faith-filled as to ask for and expect them?

Sometimes Christians hesitate to ask for the big things, thinking it would be presumptuous or selfish to do so. Nonetheless, God challenges us to think big and pray big! He assures us He will supply our needs according to His will. This Digging Deeper focuses on a verse that has the potential to change our thinking about asking God for large blessings – and expecting to receive them!

Our focus verse in this article is: “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10 KJV). This command is not as strange as it may sound. Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones in their The Pulpit Commentary cite an earlier source: “The figure in the text is explained in Thomson’s ‘Land and the Book.’ ‘It is said to have been a custom in Persia, that when the king wishes to do a visitor especial honour, he desires him to open his mouth wide, and the king then crams it full of sweetmeats, and sometimes even with jewels. And to this day it is a mark of politeness in Orientals to tear off the daintiest bits of meat for a guest, and either lay them before him, or put them in his mouth'” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

If they only had obeyed…

As the first part of this verse indicates, reference is made to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. God laments that His nation had stopped listening to Him; consequently, He gave them up to their sinful desires. How different things would have been if only they had hearkened to and obeyed Him (vv. 11-13). He next explains how enriched their lives would have been if only they had been faithful. God would have defended them from enemies and provided them the choicest wheat and honey to satisfy their desires (vv. 14-16). 

What is notable about the opening of this psalm is that it makes reference to the Feast of Trumpets (v. 3) and probably the Feast of Tabernacles when it refers to “our solemn feast day,” according to The Ultimate Cross References Treasury (e-Sword 12.1). The NIV Study Bible describes this psalm as: “A festival song. It was probably composed for use at both the New Year festival (the first day of the [seventh] month, “New Moon”) and the beginning of Tabernacles (the 15th day of the month, full moon) … As memorials of God’s saving acts, Israel’s annual religious festivals called the nation to celebration, remembrance and recommitment (see Ps 95)” (Tecarta Bible App). These festivals reminded Israel of God’s Torah, i.e., His law (teaching, or instruction) that related to the steps in God’s plan of salvationThe Churches of God will soon be observing the Feast of Tabernacles so this psalm is relevant for our spiritual preparation for this joyous occasion. 

Like Baby Birds

Verse 10 includes a colorful metaphor, as explained by Joseph S. Exell in his The Biblical Illustrator: “The psalmist had probably often noticed how the young birds open their mouths wide for the food which they know the parent bird will give them, and for which, therefore, they wait with such eager expectancy. And he points to this familiar fact, and bids his countrymen in like manner expect blessing from God, for God will not disappoint them” (e-Sword 12.1). Notice that we are to expect God’s blessing! Exell goes on to explain that the condition for receiving from God is: “‘Open thy mouth wide’ … The picture is one of simple dependence and trust. Proud self-sufficiency shuts out the fulness of God. The first step to strength is to realize our own helplessness, simply to ‘open the mouth wide,’ that God may fill it” (Ibid.). These are the prerequisites for such in-filling. 

Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible adds his perspective: “The meaning here is, ‘I can amply supply all your needs. You need not go to other gods – the gods of other lands – as if there were any deficiency in my power or resources; as if I were not able to meet your necessities. All your needs I can meet. Ask what you need – what you will; come to me and make any request with reference to yourselves as individuals or as a nation – to this life or the life to come – and you will find in me all abundant supply for all your needs, and a willingness to bless you commensurate with my resources’” (e-Sword 12.1). Notice that Barnes makes the point that these requested blessings are not just for this life but even for our lives in the world to come. 

Barnes continues in his Notes on the Bible with an application for today: “What is here said of the Hebrews may be said of the people of God at all times. There is not a want of our nature – of our bodies or our souls; a want pertaining to this life or the life to come – to ourselves, to our families, to our friends, to the church, or to our country – which God is not able to meet; and there is not a real necessity in any of these respects which he is not willing to meet” (e-Sword 12.1). Here Barnes expands our requests to include those for loved ones, acquaintances, associates, fellow Christians, and our nation. The nations of the world truly need the prayers of God’s people!

If We Bodly Ask

We need not be shy in asking boldly with anticipation. Adam Clarke in his Commentary on the Bible exhorts: “Let thy desires be ever so extensive, I will gratify them if thou wilt be faithful to me. Thou shalt lack no manner of thing that is good” (e-Sword 12.1). Do we crave God’s truth? This verse shows that the more morally hungry we are the better fed we shall be. Joseph S. Exell’s The Bible Illustrator explains that such a request implies health: “The body without appetite for food is diseased; the intellect without appetite for truth is diseased; and the soul without appetite for righteousness is diseased” (Ibid.). If we do not crave God’s provision, we are unhealthy in some way. We must recognize our needs for God’s intervention and meet God’s requirement. Exell then presents the conditions for such filling: “Proud self-sufficiency shuts out the fulness of God. The first step to strength is to realize our own helplessness, simply to ‘open the mouth wide,’ that God may fill it” (Ibid.). 

In his The Pulpit Commentary Joseph S. Exell notes that some never open their mouths at all, others open their mouths but not wide. He then presents the conditions for being fed by God: “There must be:

1. A mouth to open; that is, power to believe. Now, we all have that, and use it every day about other things.

2. Need of God’s blessing. Unquestionably there is that.

3. Sense of this need. Consciousness of it, and distress because of it. Hunger after God’s blessing.

4. Will to believe. Trust is more a matter of the will than of the reason. ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’ Refuse to doubt, resolve to believe” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). 

Expecting to be filled

During the autumn festivals, God’s people have the prospect of being very well fed by God through His ministers in sermonettes, sermons, and Bible studies. However, what we have read in this study explains the conditions for such in-filling. We must humbly recognize our need for God’s provision, ask Him in believing prayer for it, and expect that He shall fill it as He has promised, according to His will and timetable. We must open our mouths like baby birds expecting our parents to feed us. However, to be very well fed, we must open them wide!


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Forum Summary: The First 12%

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, LivingEd-Charlotte 2020


Estimated reading time: 1 min.

“12 percent of your Living Education experience is already behind you.” Mr. John Strain, the Charlotte congregation pastor, spoke to us on September 22, prior to the Feast break.

This program is only 9 months long; it is a brief chance to accomplish something good. But do we know what we’re trying to accomplish? “Could you tell me why you’re here?” Mr. Strain asked. More importantly, how will we know if we’ve met our goal? Our speaker told us to make our goals measurable. Whether on paper or in a Word document, we need to have a model by which we measure our progress.  

Laying a foundation

This program is unlike Ambassador College: church resources and size don’t allow for it. But Living Ed gives us the same opportunity to build a solid foundation. Mr. Strain told us to build that foundation by learning doctrine, exercising communication skills, building lifelong friendships, and doing jobs that support the Work. He said that this is “the most concentrated period of time you will have in your life to study the Bible.” The foundation we build here will be the frame for everything we undertake in the future.  


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts

Second Thoughts: On Interpretation

 Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Ed Charlotte 2020


Estimated reading time: 3 min.

Mr. Peter Nathan began the forum by asking, “What’s your worldview?” Inspired by Dr. Meredith’s article Satan’s Alternative Universe, Mr. Nathan created a presentation that broke down what an alternative universe is—a worldview.

Your worldview shapes your vision—like glasses. It is your perception of reality—literally, “the way you interpret the world.” Interpretation occurs every day in ways we take for granted. We interpret people’s body language. We examine our own conflicted feelings to discover why we feel so hurt or happy. If we apply meaning to anything, we’re using interpretation.  

Dr. Meredith wrote about the countless alternative interpretations we encounter in the world. But these different worldviews don’t simply involve things we can see—they involve perspectives we can’t see.   

A college student combats alternative worldviews regularly. We have to manage ourselves around the various filters (or lack thereof) of our peers, and we are, essentially, every professor’s captive audience in the classroom. We are solidifying our interpretations of reality while being fed the worldviews of those around us. How do students navigate tests, essays, projects, and discussions that require them to regurgitate their professors’ views? 

Interpreting the Interpretations  

Before coming to Living Education, I attended a State University of New York. I had two professors who strongly contended that gender is a societal constraint. One professor insisted that the existence of hermaphroditic, intersex genetics prove, beyond a doubt, that gender is a continuous spectrum. The other professor taught literature, and she vehemently said that people who believe there are only male and female genders constantly oversimplify things into extremes and refuse to see any complexity in life.  

I could have disproved these teachers’ incorrect perceptions—if they would have listened to God’s interpretation of reality. But I had to sit in class respectfully and swallow my frustration—and I couldn’t ignore their worldview. I really gained a better understanding of how and why they see the world as they do. 

Ignoring or avoiding the various worldviews we face is not helpful; we need to understand others’ interpretations to better serve them now and later. But with that said, I want to achieve that balance of seeing the perspectives of others and understanding where they come from while intensely analyzing their worldview for truths and flaws—interpreting their interpretation.  

Have you ever thought about the phrase, “That’s open to interpretation”? Can you imagine Christ ever saying that? Or would He respond with the right interpretation? What are our thoughts when we hear somebody use that phrase? 

Is Anything in Life “Open to Interpretation”?  

Mr. Nathan pointed out that God provides “a perspective for interpreting every subject matter.” 2 Peter 1:20 says that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation….” Yes, we are human, so we all see the world through different eyes, but isn’t there a correct interpretation for which we all strive? This applies not only to interpreting the Bible, but also to analyzing the worldviews of our friends, family members, and college professors.   

If we don’t actively analyze the interpretations around us, and if we don’t take the time to learn God’s interpretation of things, we risk making the alternative universes of the world our own. It’s worth considering how we interpret the world—and the worldviews—around us. 


Juliette McNair is a student at Living Education Charlotte. She works in the Editorial Department transcribing sermons and proofreading transcripts. She also assists Living Education by writing Second Thoughts essays and Forum/Assembly Summaries for the website. Juliette recently graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in Upstate New York with an A.A.S in Horticulture, a B.T in Plant Science, and a minor in English with a writing focus. She loves playing soccer on the beach, getting up early to watch the sunrise, and playing piano with the lights out.

Course Spotlight: The Pattern of Private Prayer

We see in Matthew 6 that Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, but what does the passage say about where we should pray? What are the reasons why Christ practiced praying in a secluded place, and instructs us to take the same approach?

Course Spotlight From The Life, Ministry, and Teachings of Jesus Christ: (Unit 2) The Galilean Ministry

Digging Deeper: Good and Pleasant Unity

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 8 min. 21 sec.

Did you know that unity among Christian brethren is described by God in the Book of Psalms as good and pleasant using two colorful similes?

We live at a time in western culture when individualism prevails over community spirit. Regrettably, this has created a yawning chasm difficult to breach when people insist that their way is the only way. This is a comparatively modern social separation. The Ancient Near East in which God developed the nation Israel was much more community-minded. How individuals chose to conduct themselves had consequences for their immediate families, clans, tribes, and nation. This Digging Deeper showcases a short Old Testament psalm about God’s instruction on unity among those who call each other brethren.

Our focus passage will be Psalm 133. The Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, Vol. 3 describes this psalm as “… a short but beautiful poem extolling the blessedness of brotherly unity. Such unity characterized the meetings of the Israelites at the great festivals of Jerusalem. Harmony and brotherly love prevailed on these occasions” (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1977, p. 918). The Churches of God are rapidly approaching God’s sacred fall festival season. This descriptive hymn from Israel’s hymnbook provides some much-needed balm during this stressful time of world history that has strained relations – even among brethren. Let’s take a closer look at a favorite hymn of many to prepare ourselves to celebrate God’s Feasts in the right spirit.

A Hymn for a Special Occasion

Psalm 133 is part of a lengthy section of 15 psalms (120-134) known as the Songs of Degrees, or Ascents. Some commentators suggest that these were hymns sung by the Israelites on their way to celebrate the festivals at Jerusalem. They ascended in elevation through the Judean hills into the city of Jerusalem. Others suggest these 15 psalms in some way corresponded to 15 steps leading up to or into the Temple. The ESV Study Bible notes: “Some traditional Jewish interpreters have suggested that these were songs sung on the ‘steps’ (as the same word can mean, e.g., Exodus 20:26), either in parts of the temple or up from a spring in Jerusalem; others have taken them as geared toward returning to Jerusalem from exile (cf. Ezra 1:3)” (Tecarta Bible App).

The NKJ Study Bible adds further: “As pilgrim families made the arduous journey to the holy city for festive worship, they would use these psalms as encouragement along the way. It is also possible that once they arrived in Jerusalem, they would sing these songs anew as they drew near the temple, reenacting their journey and affirming God’s blessing on their path” (Tecarta Bible App). Whatever their origin, these 15 psalms were a special collection of hymns for such special occasions as God’s festivals. Unity was essential as Israelites from all their tribal allotments gathered in large numbers to worship in Jerusalem. These long and arduous journeys on foot or beast required cooperation and support – fruits of unity.

The theme for this article is verse 1: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  (Psalm 133:1 KJV). The superscription for this psalm announces that this psalm is “A Song of degrees of David.” It is one of four in this 15-psalm set ascribed to him. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible reports that “As God’s people fill Jerusalem to celebrate the great festivals, this reminds them that unity is good and pleasant. Their pilgrimage is not simply an individualistic act of piety but expresses solidarity with the larger body of God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). Notice that this stresses solidarity with the larger congregation, not individualism. The NKJ Study Bible notes that “Good and …pleasant may be rephrased as ‘great delight’ or ‘good pleasure.’ There is a sense of serene wonder in these words describing the unity of God’s people” (Ibid.).

Like Oil on a Beard

Verse 2 of Psalm 133 describes this unity by reference to the simile of anointing oil as explained by the ESV Study Bible: “The first simile is the ordination oil on the head of Aaron and his descendants (cf. Exodus 30:22–33). This oil made the priests ‘holy,’ consecrated to God’s purpose. The image means that when Israel is true to its ideal, it is displaying genuine consecration and carrying out its calling in the world” (Tecarta Bible App). What the oil represented is explained by the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: “Anointing with oil was used to symbolize God’s authorization and empowerment of a king (see notes on 1 Samuel 2:10; 10:1) or other representative, such as a priest, for divine service … The ritual that set apart Aaron and his sons for priestly service involved pouring oil on their heads and garments (Exodus 29:1, 7, 21, 29; Leviticus 8:2, 12). This ‘sacred anointing oil’ (Exodus 30:25) consisted of a mixture of oil and four spices (myrrh, cinnamon, calamus and cassia [Exodus 30:23–24]) uniquely combined by the special skills of a perfumer (Exodus 31:1–3, 11; 37:29; 1 Samuel 8:13)” (Ibid.).

This anointing was not “a little dab will do you” as clarified by the NIV Study Bible: “The oil of Aaron’s anointing (Exodus 29:7; Lev 21:10) saturated all the hair of his beard and ran down on his priestly robe, signifying his total consecration to holy service. Similarly, communal harmony sanctifies God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). God’s people are to be set apart from others through their unity and love. Additionally, the NKJ Study Bible notes: “This psalm pictures the oil in such large quantity that it flows from the head to the beard to the garment of Aaron, who represented the priests of God. When God’s people live together in unity, they experience God’s blessing” (Ibid.). This second verse teaches us that unity is expected by God and that it sanctifies and empowers His people for service.

Like Dew on a Mountain

The third verse, concluding Psalm 133, mentions a second simile: dew on Hermon. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible pinpoints this mountain: “One of the highest peaks in Israel’s northern mountain region, it was well watered by rain, snow and dew, making it cool and lush (Jeremiah 18:14). Vegetation in the dryer regions of southern Israel, where Jerusalem and Mount Zion were located, depended on dew and what little rain it received. Thus, for the temple mount (Mount Zion) to experience the dew of Mount Hermon pictures conditions of refreshment” (Tecarta Bible App). Mount Hermon’s dew was vital for productivity. The ESV Study Bible further explains:”…the dew is crucial for the vegetation during the dry season (Genesis 27:28; Deuteronomy. 33:28; 2 Samuel 1:21; 1 Kings 17:1; Proverbs 3:20; 19:12; Hosea 14:5; Haggai 1:10; Zechariah 8:12), and the image conveys the thought of a fruitful land. This too was part of the covenantal ideal (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1–14)” (Ibid.). Unity is the model that adds refreshment and fruitfulness to brotherly harmony and love.

Concerning the second and third verses, the NIV Study Bible notes: “The two similes (vv. 2–3) are well chosen: God’s blessings flowed to Israel through the priestly ministrations at the sanctuary (Exodus 29:44–46; Leviticus 9:22–24; Numbers 6:24–26)—epitomizing God’s redemptive mercies—and through heaven’s dew that sustained life in the fields—epitomizing God’s providential mercies in the creation order” (Tecarta Bible App). God’s redemptive and providential mercies should be the causes of brethren uniting together in combined worship.

A Portrait of the Kingdom

One wonders if the ancient Israelites ever fully achieved such incomparable unity. The NKJ Study Bible answers: “The intent of God is for the good of His people in this life and in the life to come. The people of Israel rarely achieved the level of unity—or the level of blessing—that the poem describes. Ultimately, this is a portrait of the kingdom of God. One day there will be the spiritual unity of God’s people that this poem describes” (Tecarta Bible App). Though we may never fully achieve the unity so described by these verses, God’s people need to strive for such a goal more and more unto the perfect day.

To bring together the meaning of these three verses, the ESV Study Bible notes: “Since this is a Song of Ascents, the ‘brothers dwelling in unity’ would be the fellow Israelite pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem, abiding in peace with one another. The ideal Israel is a community of true brotherhood, where the members practice mutual concern for one another; if this were achieved, it would indeed be good and pleasant. This should be the goal of church life (John 17:20–23)” (Tecarta Bible App).

As we gather together during God’s festivals, unity is an essential ingredient as explained by the NIV Zondervan Study Bible: “Their pilgrimage is not simply an individualistic act of piety but expresses solidarity with the larger body of God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). Unity among brethren is an anointing that consecrates our relationships, provides refreshment, and promotes growth. Our festival observance must not be solely for one’s private devotion and service of God. In the family of God, no one is an island. Adapting our behavior required during a pandemic, we are to safely join ourselves to other members of God’s earthly family to enjoy a brief foretaste of the coming good and pleasant kingdom of God.


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Feast of Trumpets – The Sound of the Shofar

As we approach the Feast of Trumpets, take a few moments to review our special segment featuring Dylan King explaining how different trumpets were used in history!

Course Spotlight From God’s Feast Days: Trumpets

Forum Summary: What’s Your Worldview?

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, LivingEd-Charlotte 2020


Estimated Reading Time: 1 min.

Mr. Peter Nathan, regional director of Europe, Africa, and the UK, spoke on the alternative worldviews—or “universes”—people have today. He posed the question, “Why is it that we come to very different conclusions?”

Two Realities

Mr. Nathan walked us through the history of Thomas Aquinas’ introduction of Aristotelian views into mainstream Christianity in the 13th century. The world, according to these philosophies, is made up of two realities: the spiritual and the natural.

As the centuries passed, humanist personalities like Charles Darwin contributed to an emphasis on the natural world over the spiritual. The subsequent secularization of society has closed off our “universe” from any spiritual reality. The modern world, as we know it, contains little trace of God or religion in its thinking.

Free from the trap

We are living in a sea of worldviews blinded from the reality of the spiritual. Mr. Nathan exhorted us to take on the responsibility of looking to God to provide “a perspective for interpreting every subject” and to grasp the spiritual metanarratives that accompany our physical realities. If we do this, we free ourselves from the blinded, closed-off universe in which our society is trapped. 


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts

Second Thoughts: On Distractions and Responsibility

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education 2020


Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In this week’s Forum, Mr. Jonathan Bueno addressed the danger of distractions.

The relevance of this topic is self-evident—especially to students. We are constantly bombarded with competitors for our attention, energy, and time. Every Sabbath, as we sit and listen to the messages, we are inspired to dive into God’s word, proving for ourselves what He reveals. We promise ourselves that, this week, we will study the Bible more. We determine to work harder on our homework, and we commit to going to bed earlier so we can feel like normal human beings at our 8:30 a.m. class. 

And then comes Sunday morning. Our Instagram feed is exploding. We’re continuing our streak on Snapchat, and YouTube just notified us about this movie we’ve wanted to see—one three-minute trailer leads to a downward spiral into popular reactions to that trailer, a random sketch comedy, and irrelevant tutorials. Two hours later, we remember that we scheduled a coffee date with a friend. There are group messages to check, TikToks to watch and share, and social events to attend. Then, every evening, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix call to us from the living room—or any room for that matter, via the apps downloaded on our iPhones.  

These are just some of the distractions competing with our goal to study the Bible, read our textbook, and finish the assignments coming due. So, we get overwhelmed. It seems like we inevitably have to stay up until all hours of the night to study for exams. Some of us manage to pull all-nighters, working on that term paper. Others just give up and give in to the many distractions, all too willing to fill that void.  

The Sickness or the Symptom? 

It may seem reasonable to blame our lack of time on these various distractions. But in reality, distractions are not the cause of avoiding the important things in life. More often than not, they’re the result. 

Christ tells us of a man who heard the truth—perhaps he was sitting in church, completely inspired, promising himself that he would do better this week—but the thorns that are the distractions of our world caused him to stop moving forward. In Matthew 13:22-23, we read, “the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” This man understands what he is hearing; he gets it—that is, until he turns away. Those distractions only choke us after we avoid the important things. The cares of this world follow us. It is only when we turn toward them that they lead us. 

Matthew 7:13-14 exhorts, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” 

When we avoid the hard things, the things we know we need to do, we turn from the narrow gate and allow distractions to lead us through the wide. We cannot walk through the narrow gate by accident—it takes strategizing and commitment. This was the thrust of Mr. Bueno’s message: we must combat our distractions. But perhaps we must also contend with our distractibility. 

“Hard choices, easy life.” 

The wide gate is the easy way—yet it doesn’t lead to an easy life. Jerzy Gregorek, former Olympic champion and winner of four World Weightlifting Competitions, lives by the mantra “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.” If we choose to make small, difficult decisions on a daily basis, if we choose to not avoid important tasks, and if we choose to handle conflict when it arises, we take responsibility for our proclivity for distraction—and our lives, while by no means easy, will be easier.  

Distractions can lead us away from our opportunity to learn and become established in God’s truth. But they only lead us away after we turn toward them. The responsibility is on us to make time for the important things of life, so that distractions cannot lead us away from the narrow gate. 


Juliette McNair is a student at Living Education Charlotte. She works in the Editorial Department transcribing sermons and proofreading transcripts. She also assists Living Education by writing Second Thoughts essays and Forum/Assembly Summaries for the website. Juliette recently graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in Upstate New York with an A.A.S in Horticulture, a B.T in Plant Science, and a minor in English with a writing focus. She loves playing soccer on the beach, getting up early to watch the sunrise, and playing piano with the lights out.

Assembly Summary: “You Don’t Know”

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, LivingEd-Charlotte 2020


Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour opened his session with a piece of advice: “You don’t know what people need, what they require, and how to help them…You don’t know…” On our own, we struggle to perceive other people’s needs and are often blind to our responsibilities toward them. We have little control over the events that will occur in our lives—we can’t even control how they shape us. Yet, Mr. Bonjour explained, there is purpose in this reality of life: to learn and gain understanding. For young people, striving to live up to God’s standards—in times of our lives when we just don’t know—Mr. Bonjour gave several solid principles to apply. 

The first is, find an older person at your work, and take care of them—do the heavy-lifting.

While Mr. Bonjour was specifically referring to a job he had in the past, the principle carries over for young people in the church. If we can learn from the experiences of older men and women, be it in a practical working capacity or regarding spiritual issues, we save time. We fast-track ourselves in our development, and we learn the lessons without the pain that may have accompanied our teacher.  

A second principle is be a multi-purpose tool.

The speaker compared a 3 mm Allen wrench to a pocket-knife that contained several different tools. Both tools have different utility—but the Allen wrench’s usefulness is extremely narrow. It can accomplish one thing. Mr. Bonjour encouraged us to be the pocket-knife. Pick up skills, however small they are, to become valuable to employers, to our family, and to the church.  

Mr. Bonjour read Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Not knowing what’s going to happen or how to fulfill each other’s needs is just the way life works. God uses this reality to teach us, to challenge us, and to bring us to change. 


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts

Forum Summary: “Combat Distractedness”

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, LivingEd-Charlotte 2020


Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute 40 seconds

The forum speaker for the day, Mr. Jonathan Bueno, spoke on the topic of maintaining focus in a world of distraction. Mr. Bueno explained that this distracted state is a way of life for many in our world, but a young person in God’s church cannot afford to lose focus on their purpose. The speaker outlined three categories of purpose in a Christian’s life: daily tasks, life goals, and the ultimate goal of being in the kingdom of God. So how can we combat our propensity to be, as “distracted” literally means, dragged away from our purpose? 

Two major distractions that draw people away from their goals are technology and entertainment. The average American household watches 8 hours of TV per day and iPhones are constantly in hand, grabbing attention with catchy alerts. Mr. Bueno calls these and other similar activities non-essential pursuits. He reminded us that the time spent on these non-essentials adds up. By spending our time in that way we willingly risk becoming, quite literally, chemically “hooked” on our distractions. Mr. Bueno quoted Deuteronomy 5:32, “… you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” God wants His people to maintain their focus on the important things. Mr. Bueno used the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 to emphasize the danger that distractions pose to the young in the faith. The “thorns” of our day can easily choke out our understanding, simply by overwhelming us with notifications and endless choices.  

Mr. Bueno encouraged us to put God first, to be purpose driven, and to evaluate the distractions we allow into our lives by the word of God. We must not be drawn away from our purpose. Distractions kill, but “focus will bring us to the finish line.” 


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.