Humans’ Automatic Warning System – the Conscience

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated reading time: 5 mins.

The students in the Living Ed program had a forum presentation from an elder in South Africa who runs the Church’s office there, Mr. Botha.

He began with the story of a plane crash in Spain. In this instance, the pilots had clearly heard the automatic warning system telling them in English, “PULL UP.” The pilot responded with “shut up, gringo!” They ignored the warning—with catastrophic consequences. Do we act the same way with our automatic warning systems? Do we ignore our consciences?

Should We Trust Our Conscience?

Mr. Botha warned that many people today consider the conscience to be “a defect that robs people of their self-esteem.” But in actuality, the conscience is a gift from God that can tell us, “PULL UP!” when we are in danger. Even people in the world (Romans 2:15) can make use of this gift. 

“Our conscience entreats us to do what we believe is right.”

Mr. Botha

Mr. Botha clarified that our conscience is not the same as the word or law of God, but is concerned with our inner motives and true thoughts, something above intellect and reason. If we act contrary to our authentic motives and beliefs, we contradict our conscience, and “a violated conscience is not easily convinced.”

Conscience in the Bible

In the Old Testament, Mr. Botha explained, the word translated “heart” is the closest in meaning to the Greek word translated “conscience.” Through the Old Testament, we see consciences, or hearts, set against God (Exodus 8:15) and directing men to follow God (2 Chronicles 34:27). Our conscience can be abused by wrong beliefs or silenced by being ignored (Titus 1:15). Yet at one point, all will experience their conscience testifying against them.

Conscience versus Doctrine

Do we always follow our conscience? Mr. Botha pointed out that there is a difference between what our conscience thinks and what God thinks. But as we spiritually grow, our conscience becomes more in harmony with God’s will. Mr. Botha illustrated this by comparing our conscience to a skylight—it is not a light source on its own, but rather it needs a strong light source to shine through it. When in harmony with God, our conscience grows to be a powerful tool to keep us on track by accusing us when we do wrong things, like David’s conscience after he had cut the robe of Saul (1 Samuel 24:5). And a pure conscience can grow to be a testimony to others. 

“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”

2 Corinthians 1:12

Overcoming a Weak Conscience

Mr. Botha addressed the difficulties that come from having an oversensitive, weak conscience. He pointed to clean and unclean meats. A weak conscience leads to a legalistic, overscrupulous approach fueled by disputing (Romans 14:1-2). It comes from an immature spiritual state, a mind that has not been saturated in the word of God. The answer is to study the Bible and prove God’s will through prayer and fasting. Mr. Botha clarified that, if we have a weak conscience, we still should not violate it. Those with stronger consciences should defer to the weak (1 Corinthians 8:13), and we should not be in the habit of going against our conscience. 

“But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

Romans 14:23

How to Keep Your Conscience Clean

Mr. Botha explained that having a right conscience before involves having a clean conscience, and he gave the students three ways to keep our consciences clean.

1) Confess and forsake known sins. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). If we know we have sinned, and we confess and forsake our sin, God is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). 

2) Seek forgiveness from those you have wronged. We should be sure to reconcile with others (Matthew 5:23-24). Mr. Botha pointed out that we should make restoration for our wrongs, going above and beyond (Luke 19:8). 

3) Do not procrastinate in clearing your wounded conscience. “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16). Mr. Botha emphasized that letting guilt fester leads to depression. 

Final Thoughts

As his last part of the presentation, Mr. Botha reiterated the importance of strengthening our conscience by saturating our minds in God’s word and warned against violating our own conscience. He also showed how the world views our conscience as useless and tells us to ignore it. In reality, “a pure conscience is more to be pursued than the world’s approval.” We should be able to stand ourselves, to not feel guilty about actions. We need to have faith and a good conscience (1 Timothy 1:19). We should not ignore our automatic warning system, because “the cost of switching it off is dangerously high; it will inevitably result in spiritual catastrophe.”

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

Walking on the Trail of Faith

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated reading time: 4 min.

In Valdese, North Carolina, lies a treasure trove of history hiding in plain sight: the Waldensian Trail of Faith.

This outdoor museum brings the Piedmont valleys of north Italy across the sea to Valdese and makes Waldensian history come to life with life-size recreation of critical monuments and buildings. The Living Education students walked on this Trail of Faith to learn more about the Thyatira era of the Church of God, hearing about the zeal and persecutions of the Waldensians and also seeing their slip into Protestantism that ended their era of God’s church. 

Arriving at the Trail

As the Living Ed students and faculty pulled in, they glimpsed the outdoor exhibits on the trail, and noticed there were Christmas decorations and crosses strewn about the outdoor museum in preparation for the holiday season. Mr. McNair was quick to comment on this. “You may be thinking,” he said, “What’s the deal with this? I thought the Waldensians were our Christian forerunners.” Well, as we were to find out, a lot happened on the Trail of Faith that the Waldensians walked, and not all of it was good. 

Beginning the Trail of Faith

The tour began with a replica barberi college. The Waldensian students of the thirteenth century studied in unimposing, cozy cottages that would not stand out, and this was intentional. Kezia, one of the Living Education student leaders, explained that these colleges served as secret sanctuaries for education where faithful students would memorize the whole new testament and the psalms (thankfully, we don’t have to do that). These colleges avoided attracting the attention of Catholic inquisitors at all costs. Often, they could not even risk having fires in the winter to stay warm. Kezia related the end result of a student’s studying at this college. Once that student left, equipped to preach the word of God, he had about a three-year life expectancy. Yet the Waldensians still studied through miserable conditions and trained to spread the true word of God. That’s true zeal. 

The students continued to the Church in the Cave exhibit. The cave in Valdese is a man-made duplicate of a grotto in the Piedmont valleys that features in a harrowing story. Nathan—another student leader—recounted how faithful Waldensians once hid in this cave for church services. It was small and cramped, and they had to crawl inside it; the only light inside came through a small crack at the top of the cave. The Waldensians could not even sing hymns for fear of being heard by Catholic inquisitors. Despite all this, they were discovered one day. The Catholic inquisitors did not want to crawl in, so they started a fire and cunningly directed the smoke into the small gap in the cave’s roof. Slowly the cave filled with smoke until it was unbearable for those inside. One by one, the Waldensians crawled out—and, one by one, they were killed. What else did these Waldensians endure on their Trail of Faith? We continued on to find out. 

Leaving the Trail of Faith

The students came to a memorial commemorating the Waldensians’ entrance into the Reformation. They conformed their doctrines to match the greater Protestant movement, but they would pay the price. The students continued on the Trail of Faith, but the Waldensians had fallen off. The next exhibits recounted the persecutions they faced, and, in a replica church, Ellie shared with us the intense wars and struggles the Waldensians faced in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. The Waldensians were captured and removed from their villages in the Piedmont valleys, with little help from any Protestant countries. Though the Waldensians did fight their way back in their “Glorious Return,” they were no longer the same Waldensians who had put God and His Gospel above fighting and “homelands.”

The later exhibits on the Trail of Faith show us the early Waldensian colony in Valdese, and relate the stories of those who left the then-overcrowded Piedmont valleys to come to America. One of the last exhibits is a war memorial that commemorates all the Waldensians who have served in the United States’ armed services. Mr. McNair noted the irony. The Waldensians were once Christians completely unconcerned with war and politics and focused on spreading God’s word, but they came to embrace war with pride.


The students left the tour filled with good memories, powerful stories, and a little deeper knowledge of God’s Church through the ages. The story of the Waldensian Trail of Faith is fascinating. It is full of zeal but also tragedy, especially after the majority of those in that Church era fell from the faith and faced horrible persecution. Despite the heaviness of the topics, we all enjoyed the tour immensely and shared many laughs and smiles throughout the day.

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

The Path to Achieving Your Goals

Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

Don’t End Up in a Hole

Dr. Douglas Winnail addressed the students of the Living Education program in Charlotte in a forum presentation. He advised the students to consider the decisions they make, because those choices will determine where they end up in life and bad decisions could land them in bad circumstances.   

“Some people dig such deep holes for themselves that they never get out.” – Dr. Douglas Winnail

Dr. Winnail illustrated with a simple story. He was riding with a young man and commented, “You should probably slow down; you’re driving pretty fast.” 

And he got this answer: “I know what I’m doing.” Within the next couple of weeks, that driver was in an accident. Consequences come from choices. But this is not always negative. If we want to be successful in life, we can make the right choices and achieve success. That’s a simple concept, but how do we find these right decisions? 

Seek Advice

Do we really need to listen to other people’s advice? Everyone wants to tell us how to live our lives, and usually, it’s just annoying. However, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Dr. Winnail explained that following your first instinct is sometimes a disaster. It is absolutely necessary to seek counsel (Proverbs 12:15) and follow the examples of successful people who achieve successful results through their lives. 

“The path to success is not a big secret.”

Dr. Winnail

There are countless books, stories, and lectures that address the age old question, “How can I be successful?” No doubt we have heard and read advice, but how much of it do we remember? It is not a secret; it is not hidden. We just don’t remember to seek out good advice and live it. 

To aid the students in their lives, Dr. Winnail presented 30 powerful principles to have a successful and fulfilled life. These principles come from Herbet W. Armstrong’s The Seven Laws of Success, Cameron C. Taylor’s Eight attributes of great achievers and that book’s sequel, and Coach Wooden’s Seven Point Creed

The Seven Laws of Success

Dr. Winnail began with a system that many people in the Church have used for decades to guide their lives. 

  1. Set the right goal. Is the goal really worth it? Is it going to bring the result that you think it will? (e.g., people often think a certain job with a large paycheck will bring happiness, but then it doesn’t). These questions must be considered!
  2. Prepare yourself. Once you know your goal, get the information, skills, and connections needed. The hard part here is figuring out what those skills are. Spend time thinking and researching this. 
  3. Maintain good health. This is fairly easy when you’re young, but more difficult as you age. Simply put, don’t compromise on sleep, exercise, diet, and stress management. 
  4. Drive yourself. “Let your eyes look straight ahead…. Do not turn to the right or the left” (Proverbs 4:25,27). Always keep pushing toward your goals. 
  5. Be resourceful. If you run into obstacles and difficulties, look for different paths, know what all your resources are, and seek guidance from others.
  6. Persevere toward your goal. Often, the hardest aspect of achieving a goal is sticking to it through the difficult moments, maintaining the will to be driven and resourceful. 
  7. Seek God’s guidance. This principle is often overlooked, but it is more ubiquitous in success stories than many realize! Even individuals like George Washington and Christopher Columbus prayed and asked God to guide them. 

Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to put these laws into action in their lives, and to learn from the stories of great achievers in history. He pointed to two books by Cameron C. Taylor that provide short stories and highlight characteristics shown by various successful individuals: 8 Attributes of Great Achievers and 8 Attributes of Great Achievers II

Sixteen Attributes of Great Achievers

Dr. Winnail provided a handout with the 16 attributes for our reference, and then expounded on particular points. 

8 Attributes of Great Achievers – Cameron C. Taylor, 2010

In reference to attribute 6 – Be Optimistic, Dr. Winnail quoted the motto of the Seabees in World War II, who built airstrips and infrastructure to support the military.

“The difficult we do at once. The impossible takes a bit longer!”

Inscription on the Seabees Memorial in Fort Meyers, VA

8 Attributes of Great Achievers II – Cameron C. Taylor, 2014

To illustrate attribute 11-Master the Fundamentals, Dr. Winnail delved into the story of John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach who won ten NCAA championships and coached famous players like Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. But John Wooden taught his players about more than just basketball; he taught them about life. 

John Wooden’s Seven Point Creed

These points were given to John Wooden by his father. Dr. Winnail encouraged us to listen, remember, and apply these to our lives, too. 

  1. Be true to yourself. Care more about building character than reputation. “Your character is what you are. Your reputation is what others think of you.”
  2. Help others. Philo Farnsworth, when he invented the television, did so to help others, not himself. Even in your goals, seek to benefit more people than just yourself.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece. Don’t put anything off to tomorrow that you can do today.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible. You need advice. You need guidance, and quality books provide that.
  5. Make friendship an art. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24). Put the effort in! 
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day. This combines helping others, having friends, and making the most of your days. Build security and solidity in your life. 
  7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Do we remember the blessings we have? The guidance we have been given? Dr. Winnail reminded the students to consider the valuable advice they get through these forums, to take the time to review their notes, to commit wisdom to memory and live it. 

Fill the Need

Dr. Winnail concluded his forum presentation with advice on setting goals. He told the students to look around and see what needs there are in the world. Christopher Colombus saw a need in his life: to reduce the time to get spices from India. Philo Farnsworth saw a need: displaying a scanned image on a screen. What needs do we see in the world around us today?

As Christians, we should see what we want to change in the world around us, because, as Dr. Winnail reminded the students, we will have the chance to make those changes when Christ returns. 

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

Brother to Brother: Anyway

A Need for Speed II [NASCAR Hall of Fame]

Estimated reading time: 3 min.

In December of 2020, Living Education students visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame and published a compelling student life post: A Need for Speed. Two years later, the sequel is finally here.

A Need for Speed II races through the 2022 student’s experience at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Buckle up. 

This year the students, and faculty, strapped into their seats—in some highly aerodynamic minivans and SUVs—and motored to downtown Charlotte, to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The group was directed by Mr. Ruddlesden, joined by his wife. Other faculty and guests were also there including Miss Ross, Mr. Braddock—who brought his family to add to the fun—and Mr. and Mrs. Tlumak. 

Walking on Legendary Lane

The academic associates formed a pack as they funneled into the NASCAR museum and checked in. They moved up Glory Road, which features 18 cars, hand picked by Dale Earnhardt Jr, and saw iconic cars like Herb Thomas’ Hudson Hornet and Dale Earnhardt’s Chevy Lumina, the car he won his last championship with in 1994 (read about this car here). 

Living Education Students walking up the Glory Road

In retrospect, the drift up “Glory Road” is one of the most impressive for any sport: these 18 cars tell the tale of 15 drivers who won 46 of the first 72 premier series championships. It is a dense display of the most dominant drivers, and rivals any sport with its concentration of greatness. 

Pit Stop Competition 

After crossing the finish line there, we analyzed the complex designs of racing stock cars exhibited and dived into aerodynamics and chassis design. But things really got fun at the Pit Crew challenge. The students and faculty went head to head in competition for the fastest time. The old people, I mean the faculty, found their groove and flew through the pit stop. Mr. Braddock flexed his familiarity with an impact wrench, and the students just couldn’t keep up. 

Simulating a NASCAR Race

We moved onto the simulator section (NASCAR HoF Simulators) after being embarrassed, and slipped into the advanced racing simulators—a screen, steering wheel, pedals, and paddle shifters set up in a full-sized stock car—and raced each other repeatedly. Chaos ensued. On the first run, several drivers, including me, passed the pace car on the first lap. In almost every race, some disastrous crash in the last few laps completely changed the race leaders, much to the chagrin of those who were in first or second place. 

Inside the advanced simulators at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Go Faster

We learned that we weren’t Chase Elliots or Danica Patricks. Our NASCAR results put us closer to taxi drivers than professional racers. Even compared to 2020, our numbers don’t measure up. The 2020 top speeds were around 194 mph, and ours were only 184 mph. But this fueled in us an even stronger, deeper need for speed. The students and faculty relentlessly played those simulators, perfecting their passing and side drafting, seeking to go ever faster.

Eventually, some migrated to the displays and trophy cases further along in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but most kept at it on the simulators. I can only say this: a stock car experiences a lot of drag at 184 mph. That must have affected us because we had to drag a few of the students out of those simulators. 

Go Big or Go Home [we went home]

The drive back to the dorms was  suspiciously shorter than the drive there. The NASCAR Hall of Fame was only a short pit for the students, and they slingshotted straight into their assignments. It turns out, the students from 2020 had similar feelings as us it seems. 

“Deadlines are approaching and soon,” one of the 2020 students writes in A Need for Speed, “unless the students shift into high gear, they will find themselves with a need for speed.” That’s truth right there.

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

Brother to Brother: Getting the Self Out

How Do Students Fare at the Faire?

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Vibrant colors, costumes, and teeming crowds—the Living Ed students visited the Carolina Renaissance Festival and had a medieval time!

In Huntersville, NC, is one of the largest Renaissance Faires in America. This 25-acre Faire draws a yearly crowd of around 200,000 people, and the students set out to explore the festival. With 140 different vendors, stage shows, and even jousting three times a day, the Faire offers more than enough to keep one exploring for a full day, if not multiple days.

A Student’s Experience

Ever wonder what it would have been like to live in Europe 600 years ago? Well, a Renaissance Faire may not be the most realistic example (I’m pretty sure Darth Vader wasn’t in the real renaissance), but it is its own unique experience! This year’s Living Ed students adventured into new memories—for many of them it was their first time—and enjoyed the shows, the activities, and the unique shops, boasting an assortment of perfect gifts and trinkets.

Fowl Shows

The Festival held a fowl show, and it was anything but poultry (OK, I’ll stop now). The falconry exhibited was marvelous and involved both a hawk and an owl. But that wasn’t it. There was juggling in shows, magic tricks, knife throwing, acrobatics, and kids doing something with plates and broom handles (I wasn’t present for that show). Not to mention the jousting. Nothing like watching knights in full armor horse around a little.

Camels, Throwing Knives, and Paintball

Ever wanted to ride a camel, go throw knives at a wooden target, and then go shoot a paintball gun? If yes, you have oddly specific plans in life and you’re probably going somewhere big with that. But if you thought no, then you’re like me and see no connection between any of those things. However, Living Ed students did all of those things (hopefully not at the same time). Now that’s having some new experiences!

An Apish, Bald-Pated Dissambler

In case you’re wondering, that is an insult I received, and it’s absolutely marvelous. Would you like to be insulted and/or insult others in Shakespearean English? Of course you do; it’s an absurd question. You need a Shakespeare Insult Generator book. And one fellow found this book at the fair and gifted it to one of the Living Ed students. This is a perfect example of the trinkets and novelties the Living Ed students found exploring the diverse shops, peddling products ranging from homemade, everlasting candles to swords crafted with a not-accurate-to-medieval-or-renaissance-time-period smelter and forge system (still mildly upset about that). But still, these are shops you won’t find anywhere else.

What Did We Get Out of All This?

The students got more than just a handy insult generator out of this visit: they got a whole new memory. They also saw outlandish shows, rode camels and threw knives, and got a few nice gifts along the way. It was a p(l)easant day!

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

How to Host a Dinner

Estimated Ready Time: 3 min.

While certainly stemming from contemporary nihilism, “Why bother?” can be a justified question to ask. So, why do we bother hosting events like dinners, barbecues, or activities?

Because, somehow, they are worth it every time! This week, one of the LivingEd students—not me, that’s for sure—organized a “welcome back from the feast” dinner for everyone, and though it faced challenges, it was spectacular in the end. 

Life Is Challenging 

To the uninitiated, hosting a dinner may seem easy. You cook some food, people show up, and, voilà, there’s a dinner party! Somehow, though, it gets complicated. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” according to Murphy’s General Law.

The plan for this particular party was to grill lamb chops—not just because lamb chops are amazing, but also because it should have been easy. The hosting student had brought some back from the Feast, so they were already purchased, waiting—even begging—to be cooked. Easy money! Well, not quite. The number of invitees was beginning to outnumber the lamb chops. So, in the midst of classes, essays, and assignments, the host had to go get more, and lamb chops aren’t exactly available at the Dollar General up the street. 

Propane’s a Pain

Gas grills are fantastic. But highly compressed molecules in the gaseous phase have a tendency to seek a lower energy state by migration to a lower pressure system. Such a physical phenomena sounds fun on paper, but is annoying when it happens to your propane; thus, we found our grill’s gas tank empty after the Feast. Murphy strikes again. Yet our host was not to be deterred and refilled the tank.

Asparagus Evades Us

Asparagus—some people hate them. Some people love them. Some people insist they must be “prepared right” or some cryptic nonsense like that. Regardless, it is apparently hard to find them in stores. Fortunately, the girls’ RA managed to obtain some before the night of the dinner. Thus, we had asparagus. 

So, why bother? When Murphy throws challenges at you, it is tempting just to let it all go and not bother. Yet if you can survive getting the lamb chops, refilling the propane, and finding the asparagus, you may just find yourself having a pretty good time, and a great dinner. 

Work Hard, Eat Hard

Somehow, when the day of the dinner showed up, it felt like the hard part had been done, at least to me—and I didn’t do anything but stress vicariously. The actual host had a lot left to do, but now that he had overcome these other obstacles, like the whole asparagus ordeal, he was not to be stopped by a little cooking and food preparation. It all came together marvelously, and with help from a few of the girls cooking and procuring drinks, everyone had a fantastic dinner. There is an odd lesson to be learned from this: Hosting a dinner is actually quite challenging! Yet the best things in life are often the hardest to get. How do you host a good dinner? You do the hard things, like getting the lamb chops, propane, drinks, and, of course, that essential asparagus.

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

Unlocking the Mystery of Life

Author: Nathan Kroon | Student Leader, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

In today’s world, many acclaimed scientists try to tell people that life is simply a composition of matter and energy, but deny the fact that composition needs a composer.

Mr. Richard Ames explained that even science makes it evident that intelligence is the only answer to the mystery of creation. He then played Unlocking the Mystery of Life, a documentary with the purpose of explaining that all cells, atoms, and molecules are too complicated to be simply the product of an accident.

Disproving Evolution

Mr. Ames pointed to the structure of the flagellum, a tail-like appendage that allows bacteria to move around quickly, similarly to a propeller. These flagellums are essentially microscopic motors in design and function, which evolution could not simply conjure up without first having each individual part created and put in its proper place. This structure alone should, in theory, be enough proof to atheists and evolutionists that all creation is the product of intelligent design, but many people still irrationally subscribe to evolutionism. 

Charles Darwin is known as the father of evolutionism, but even he left the possibility of intelligent creation open in the reasoning of his theory, stating, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” If Darwin were alive today, he would have likely discarded his own theory in lieu of the advancement of scientific research!

Irreducible Complexity

In the documentary, biologist Jonathan Wells explained irreducible complexity. This scientific term is used to explain how certain biological systems would not be able to evolve through slight modifications, because they are already so complex that simplifying them any more would cause them to stop functioning. If a flagellum, for example, were to be reduced in design any more, it would no longer work as a propeller; it would become nothing more than a crude protrusion on the bacterium, which would soon become a victim of natural selection!

Intelligent Design

The documentary correctly asserts that all people are capable of recognizing true design, using Mount Rushmore as an example; when people look at it, they do not wonder how wind, rain, and the other forces of nature could have possibly eroded the mountain to perfectly present the appearance of four human faces, or why those faces ended up belonging to former presidents of the United States! We know intelligent design when we see it, yet many people still fail to recognize how deliberate every bit of creation actually is. Unlocking the Mystery of Life helps show that even science alone can prove the existence of our Creator!

Nathan Kroon is a Student Leader at Living Education. He originally hails from Washington State and is a 4th generation Christian. Currently, he works at Headquarters as a Video Editor and is the Lead Landscaper at the LivingEd dorms. His hobbies include playing guitar, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies.

Digging Deeper: What brings God pleasure?

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

Estimated reading time: 6 min.

Did you know that God is not impressed by large armies with advanced military equipment?

The war between Ukraine and Russia rages on. Fears mount that this could eventually lead to another world war. Not only there, but wars rage in multiple spots around the earth. Do mighty armies impress God? Some Christians may be tempted at this time to join their national military forces as world conditions continue to worsen. Does God delight in conquest and destruction as many pagan gods did? This Digging Deeper examines a passage in which God tells believers what truly pleases Him. Though the great nations of the world strut their military prowess, God is not impressed. He finds satisfaction in something far more relational.

Our focus verses for this study are: “He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy” (Psa 147:10-11 KJV throughout). Daniel Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments explains the Hebrew stylistic phrasing of verse 10: “Delighteth not… taketh not pleasure—Hebrew poetry loves to divide thoughts into parallel expressions. The English would be more likely to say: ‘The strength and legs (speed) of horse or man’” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Hebrew poetry is distinct from English. Parallelism appears frequently in the third section of the Hebrew Bible, called “The Writings,” which includes the Book of Psalms.

Of Horses and Men

The ESV Study Bible details the type of horse and man referred to here: “strength of the horse. Though it is easy to think of the horse here as an animal used for pulling loads, the image is most likely that of a war horse (cf. 20:7; Job 39:19); likewise, the legs of a man are swift for battle (cf. Ps. 18:33; Amos 2:14–15)” (Tecarta Bible App). The NET Bible Notes explain the military scene portrayed: “Here ‘the horse’ refers to the war horse used by ancient Near Eastern chariot forces, and ‘the man’ refers to the warrior whose muscular legs epitomize his strength” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible elaborates further: “The horse, among all animals, is most delighted in by man for beauty, strength, and fleetness. And a man’s legs, if well proportioned, are more admired than even the finest features of his face. Though God has made these, yet they are not his peculiar delight” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Spurgeon’s Expositions on the Bible offers historical background: “As the kings did in those days; their infantry and their cavalry were their glory. The Lord does not care for that sort of thing; what gives him pleasure, then?…Man boasts of his strength, and he looks at his fine horse, and glories in its strength; but God has something higher and better than sinew and muscle to boast about” (Bible Analyzer

The Lord’s pleasure

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary explains what pleases God: “Mere animal strength is the admiration of the world. Cavalry, chariots, and strong infantry are what earthly men rely on (Psa 20:7); but the Lord’s pleasure is in them that combine reverent fear with believing hope toward Him. It is ‘to them that have no might He increaseth strength’ (Isa 40:29). Those who cast away all self-confidence, and have recourse to God alone, are time especial objects of God’s delight” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

In dangerous times, what brings God’s people victory? The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges comments that these focus verses are: “Based upon Psa 33:16-18. Jehovah’s delight is not in physical strength, but in reverent trustfulness;—a thought of consolation, parallel to Psa 147:6. Israel might look regretfully back to its ancient military power, or envy the forces of neighbouring nations; but it is by spiritual strength that its victories are to be won” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Israel’s looking back regretfully may refer to a particular period of biblical history when Gentile nations captivated it.

Trust more valuable than might

Our focus verses are part of Psalms 146-150 called The Hallelujah Psalms because each of their first verses begins with “Praise ye the LORD” (Hallelujah). For what would these Jews praise their God? James Gray’s Concise Commentary suggests a scene from biblical history for these psalms: “Psalms 147-150 Are thought to especially celebrate the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and correspond to the conditions in Neh 6:16; Neh 12:27 and other places, although their millennial application is not far to seek” (e-Sword 13.0.0). When the house of Judah returned from Babylonian captivity, they had no army; yet under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, they displayed a trust in God far more valuable than military might.

The Expository Notes of Dr. Constable describe the special privilege believers have in serving God: “It is an awesome thought that we can bring pleasure to the heart of the heavenly Father (Psa_35:27; Psa_37:23; Psa_149:4)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). God wants His people to trust Him instead of armies or allies. Paul Kretzmann’s The Popular Commentary enumerates the privileges God offers to His people: “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, who, realizing their own weakness and vanity, feel their full dependence upon Him, reverently trusting in His unmerited favor, in those that hope in His mercy. Such trust meets with the pleasure of Jehovah and is therefore followed by security and blessing in city, house, and country” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

His true delight

Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible carries this principle even further: “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him – In those who truly worship him, however humble, poor, and unknown to people they may be; however unostentatious, retired, unnoticed may be their worship. Not in the ‘pride, pomp, and circumstance of war’ is his pleasure; not in the march of armies; not in the valor of the battlefield; not in scenes where ‘the garments of the warrior are rolled in blood,’ but in the closet, when the devout child of God prays; in the family, when the group bend before Him in solemn devotion; in the assembly – quiet, serious, calm – when his friends are gathered together for prayer and praise; in the heart that truly loves, reverences, adores Him. In those that hope in his mercy – It is a pleasure to him to have the guilty, the feeble, the undeserving hope in Him – trust in Him – seek Him” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Therefore, the people of God do not trust in their nation’s military strength and prowess. Neither should they give in to the temptation to participate in national military forces. Instead, their trust is in the God of heaven and earth Who delights “in them that fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”

Kenneth Frank headshot

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.