10 Wrong Reasons to be in the Church

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

Estimated reading time: 4 min.

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Years ago, Mr. Armstrong would thunderously ask, “Why are we here?”

Mr. Wakefield recalled that Mr. Armstrong asked brethren at Holy Days, “Why are we here?” 

It is a powerful question that can be extended beyond why we keep God’s Holy Days. It can apply right down to the fundamental question, “Why am I in the Church at all?” And that, as Mr. Wakefield explained, is worth examining. 

Reasons, Reasons, and More Reasons

If we look closely at our motives for any action, we find a lot of them, ranging in importance and relevance. This is true even with our reasons for being in the Church. Mr. Wakefield explained that we can have subjective reasons and objective reasons. Reasons that are strong and ones that are weak. We have many good reasons, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we may even have bad reasons. These also have different levels of importance to us. Some are primary reasons and are fundamental to why we are in the Church, and others are additional, almost bonus reasons. 

There is no use denying the reasons that are truly most important to us because God knows our every thought and intent (Genesis 6:5), and there is danger in having weak or bad reasons for being in the Church; after all, many people leave the Church because they lose their primary reason for being there. Our main motive for being in the Church should be unshakeable. 

Some OK Reasons

Mr. Wakefield explained that there are some reasons that are good, but only as supporting motives. They cannot be the main reason we are in the Church. He proceeded to give 10 “OK” reasons and explain their weaknesses. 

  1. Because we grew up in the Church. If we are in the Church only because it is habitual, we may fall away when our life changes due to going to University, starting a career, or getting married. 
  2. To avoid the Tribulation. This is weak because we can be convinced that the Tribulation is far-off and not a present issue. 
  3. To be a Philadelphian. While this is a good consideration, it is a bad central reason as it becomes a matter of pride, which leaves people vulnerable to deception.
  4. To avoid the Lake of Fire. This fear can and has been twisted to get people to accept wrong doctrine out of fear of being in the Lake of Fire. 
  5. To get salvation. Keeping God’s laws only to get salvation leads to a legalistic view and a grudging attitude that is looking for excuses to stop.
  6. For social reasons. God’s Church has and should have a good social environment full of encouragement and compassion, but we should not attend only to have our emotional needs met because our calling includes persecution and hatred! 
  7. For intellectual stimulation. This often leads to an unhealthy desire for “new truth” and itching ears. As Mr. Wakefield eloquently stated, “We grow deeper, not different.” The truth does not change; it merely sinks deeper in. 
  8. Because of a particular minister. This is a good reason, but not suited for a central reason. What if we had to live somewhere with no minister at all? We must be able to manage. 
  9. Because of Church culture. Church culture—routine, services, events, and organization—are good but are not the most critical aspects of true Christianity. 
  10. For stability. The Church does provide good stability in daily life, but one day, true Christians will be attacked and hated (Luke 21:17); will we leave then?  

Primary Reasons

Mr. Wakefield then explained some primary reasons we should be in the Church that are unshakeable and stable. We are obedient to God. We follow God from our heart. We don’t have to be convinced or bullied into it. God’s Church has the truth. We recognize a church as God’s because it teaches the whole counsel of God. Sometimes, what a church does not say is important. The truth has been questioned and battled against for years, but we should be in the Church because it possesses the unalterable and objective truth. God’s Church does the Work. The work goes right up until the end of the age. Mr. Wakefield pointed out that “the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth in the body” (Ephesians 4:15-16). We are in the Church because it is doing the Work of God. 


Mr. Wakefield concluded by saying that God may allow us to be challenged, testing our reasons and pushing us to build better and right ones. We must ask ourselves, “Why would I stay here?” We must stay in God’s Church even though we will face tribulation, offenses, disagreements, and many other challenges. We must have stable reasons that are the foundation of why we are here. 

Mr. Peter Nathan also gave a forum, asking not “why are we here?” but rather “what’s your world view?” He also discusses the importance of self-exanimation and understanding our inner-motives. Read about this forum here: What’s Your Worldview?

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.

A Ladies’ Weekend in Charleston

Author: Sabrielle McNair | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated reading time: 4 min.

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On a Friday afternoon, the girls of Living Education left the headquarters building, destined for Charleston. 

The Living Education girls were accompanied by Mrs. Carol Weston and Mrs. Dawn Rothenbacher and were led by Ms. Rebekah Ross. In total, ten women set off for this ladies’ weekend in South Carolina. 

Arriving at Charleston

Within a few hours, we arrived at the rental house on the outskirts of Charleston, settled in, and prepared the Friday night dinner meal. As the sun went down, the gorgeous view from the dock overlooking the river was enjoyed by all. Observing the beauty of God’s creation made our Friday night dinner feel like a meal with a show. We enjoyed spending time together as women of all ages. 

The Sabbath in Charleston

We headed off on Saturday mid-morning to attend the follow-up TWP that was taking place at the local church location in Walterboro, South Carolina. Mr. Alex Celan spoke about the Holy Days and their importance in God’s plan, then welcomed everyone to enjoy fellowship and snacks. The church service ensued shortly after for the members, with the sermon provided by Mr. Dexter Wakefield, a familiar face for the Living Education students. In addition to his regular duties at Headquarters, Mr. Wakefield is also a faculty member for Living Education, teaching public speaking. Once at our rental home again we enjoyed our dinner followed by an evening activity, “The Art of Letter Writing,” in which each girl wrote a letter to a loved one or friend. 

A Busy Sunday

Sunday kicked off our first activity day in the city of Charleston. Starting with a ferry ride to the historic Fort Sumter, we got the opportunity to glimpse the renowned harbor dolphins and watch them play with the boat along our trip. 

Once we arrived at the fort, we learned it was the location of the first deaths of the American Civil War and a primary flashpoint triggering that war. Fortunately, because we attended the first tour of the day, we were able to witness the raising of the flag and even participate in the patriotic ritual. 

After returning to the mainland, there was a quick lunch before we proceeded to the historic district of the city to complete a “treasure hunt” and see the notable houses and landmarks that depict the vestiges of a historic city. We went from the renowned Rainbow Row, a street of pastel-colored townhouses, through alleys draped in greenery and paved with cobblestone, and ended at the city market, one of the oldest in the country—completed around the 1830s. This market is a four-block-long section of covered open aisleways and open-air sheds housing various local vendors distributing Charleston-themed wares. To finish the day in the city, we stopped at a vintage ice cream parlor for an icy treat on the stairs of the grand customs house, which was constructed in 1879. On the way home, some girls headed to the dock to paddleboard on the river, while the rest relaxed for the last evening spent in the area.

Monday Departure

Monday morning began with a quick packing-up of the cars, and we headed off to the Charleston Tea Garden, the producer of “American Classic” tea. It was the first tea to be made with produce grown wholly in America. This tea garden is a lovely estate with ancient oak trees covered with Spanish moss, which creates an enchanting southern picture. After heading out from the tea plantation, we proceeded down the road to another notable feature of the Charleston experience: the Angel Oak Tree. Massive in size, this living piece of history has been around for hundreds of years, and we had the opportunity to view its magnificence while enjoying our lunch. All this concluded the enjoyable and educational experience of the ladies’ Charleston trip!

The prior activity the Living Education students had experienced was the BMW Tour, and the guys were included in that one. Read about that here: How the Ultimate Driving Machine Is Made! (BMW Tour).

Sabrielle McNair is currently one of the student leaders at Living Education. For the majority of her life, Sabrielle lived in Albany, New York. Having grown up in the church, she has been involved in church programs since she was a young girl. Presently, she works as the women’s Resident Assistant, assists in LivingEd event preparations, works in the finance department, and writes for the website.

The Biblical Passover Course

Now is the time to visit our course on the Biblical Passover!

This Bible study course is a befitting resource to help you prepare for Passover. This course offers a wealth of information as well as perspectives from six different ministers—including both Presiding Evangelists of the Living Church of God, Dr. Meredith and Mr. Weston. It will help you prepare for the Passover and find subjects for you to dig into in your personal Bible study as well. If you have not already, we hope you will take the time to enroll! If you have already, we hope you will review it anyway.

Here’s what is in the course:

  • Introduction by Mr. Weston. This introduction also features a video on Passover in prophecy and a related sermon by Mr. Weston.
  • The Old Testament Passover module. This sections features a lecture by Mr. Jonathan McNair along with resources covering the use of hyssop, when twilight is, the Night to be Much Observed, and more.
  • The New Testament Passover module. This includes a lecture by Dr. Meredith on the Passover and Crucifixion of Christ. Additional material covers foot washing, Christ’s scouring, the “three days and three nights” controversy, and more.
  • The Rise of the Counterfeits module. This has a short lecture on Passover terminology and also covers how Passover was morphed into Easter and other topics as well.
  • The Passover Today module. This four interviews—with Mr. Ames, Mr. Rod McNair, Mr. Wakefield, and Dr. Scott Winnail—that dive deeply into the importance of Passover to Christians today, each with their unique emphasis.

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 NKJV

What’s Your Worldview?

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

Estimated Reading Time: 7 min.

The members of the Living Church of God make an effort to come out of the world, because we realize that most of it is deceived. But how is it deceived, and how do we understand this?

Mr. Peter Nathan spoke about this issue in his forum. Many people know what it’s like to go to the optometrist. They check our eyes and help us to see clearly. They may help us with our physical vision, but how can we perfect our overall worldview? Our worldview must certainly be different from that of the rest of the world, because the concepts that they promote have led to the increasing spread of the secular mindset. What concepts from the world do we have to avoid to flee from a secular mindset and to have a balanced worldview?

Upstairs and Downstairs

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was one of the foremost Catholic theologians in history. In the present day, The Thomist magazine is regularly published, studying his thoughts and religious beliefs. His beliefs called for a separation between the physical and spiritual world. “He was important in the re-introduction of the study of the natural world,” said Mr. Nathan. He then read from 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” It’s clear that Satan loves to promote a focus on the natural world rather than the things of God. These are not meant to be separated like different floors in a house!

Figures like Aquinas became the subject of many art pieces of the Renaissance era, which was greatly concerned with philosophy. Fast forward to the twentieth century, and the result of mankind’s obsession with the natural world was clearly seen: dwindling levels of godly morality. Author Harry Blaimes claimed that “there is no longer a Christian mind.”  Herbert W. Armstrong warned the world many years ago about the movements to bring about the “new morality” the world is so wrapped up in now. Modern “Christians”  may read the Bible, pray, and attend their services, but as a thinking being, they have succumbed to secularism. A true Christian must be willing to recognize their role in the Church, be it large or small, and to be employed by the Church in whatever capacity they are called to. To accomplish that, we must not let the “upstairs” and the “downstairs” operate separately in our minds.

Shaped Through God’s Knowledge

How do we let the word of the Bible help us to maintain a godly worldview? First, we must be truly dedicated to making ourselves more like Christ, being crucified with Him and ever working to live the life that He would live in us (Galatians 2:20). Our personal worldview must be shaped by the knowledge of God. Mr. Nathan read from 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 to magnify this point: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” We must be quick to defend the truth and not let human reasoning affect our thoughts. It is estimated that around 50,000 thoughts pass through our minds each day. “Make sure every thought comes into the captivity of the will of God,” said Mr. Nathan.

How is Man Secularized?

We may try to come out of the world to the best of our ability, but even at our best, it may seem like we are taking two steps forward and one step back. In order to better further our progress towards the Kingdom of God, we must realize how man has gradually become more and more secularized over the years. Most people think of Charles Darwin in terms of evolutionary theory, but his theory directly separates God from nature, having evolution seemingly replace the idea of a Creator in people’s minds. It allowed people to think of all creation as a very closed universe, not considering what it means for our grand future. The consequences of Darwin’s theories are evident in our everyday lives. The first Humanist Society was established in 1929 by Charles Potter, who believed that education is the most powerful ally of humanism. Through human education, it seems that people are now more concerned with reasoning around the need for a Creator. Schools are now extremely humanist. Marriage is no longer seen as a spiritual institution. Mr. Nathan listed the focuses that secularization has had throughout the last few centuries:

  • Seventeenth Century – Knowledge
  • Eighteenth Century – Power
  • Nineteenth Century – Culture
  • Twentieth Century – Morality
  • Twenty-first Century (thus far) – Identity and Gender

We may reason about the physical world, but reason is not a source of infallible, autonomous truth; God (“the upstairs”) is! Reason is simply a human’s ability to process information, and it is shaped by what you accept as your ultimate authority. Ours, therefore, should be shaped by God.

Qualities of a Valid Worldview

What are people typically defined by today? Income, dress, education, gender, and religion. These are all things that can be physically seen. A worldview must provide a valid purpose for the physically unseen: our origins, the source of evil, the solution to evil, and our future. Our worldview must have a spiritual focus that is able to decipher what is going on in the physical. Our perception of God is shaped by our views on an open or closed universe, and on God as either a trinity or family. These are the things that must shape our worldview:

  • God
  • The Kingdom of God
  • God’s plan
  • The Holy Days
  • The law of God
  • Prophecy
  • Israel, in terms of its identity and the whereabouts of its people

To avoid being secularized, keep these in mind at all times. We must not block off the staircase between the spiritual and the physical. Avoiding a secular mindset will bring us a brighter future!

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.

Working in the TV Studio and the Library

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

Estimated reading time: 5 min.

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Here’s a look at two students in the work/study program with unique positions. 

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in a Library? Or what it’s like to help produce a regularly aired TV program? If yes, then you’re in luck! The Living Education work/study program has students working as a Technical Assistant in the TV studio and a Librarian for the RCM memorial Library. This post gives an inside look at two students—Madeline McNair and Rachel White—and their positions.

Madeline McNair works as Technical/Administrative Assistant for the Television Department. 

Madeline McNair at her desk in the TV Studio

Madeline is a first-year student, but she worked in the Television Studio prior to enrollment. She primarily cleans the audio of the telecast recordings using Adobe Audition, removing intrusive background sounds picked up by the high-quality microphones. This requires a very attuned ear to pick up even the smallest clicks and rustles in an audio track! She also has begun making the closed captioning for telecasts as well as finding wartime videos and pictures for the telecasts.

Madeline’s Duties in the Television Studio:

  • Performing audio correction. This is her primary responsibility and uses Adobe Audition. 
  • Making closed captioning. This is a new responsibility she has acquired and reduces the workload of other employees in the studios.
  • Clearing old videos from hard drives. She backs up video files and removes extraneous copies to save storage on devices.
  • Finding background videos. She helps get high-quality background videos (like military footage) for the telecasts. 

Here’s what Madeline told us about: 

The most fun part of the job? “I would say being a part of that part of the Work [making telecasts], because the TV studio is a separate building than the office so it is a different experience. You really see a lot of the actual telecast production; I’ve seen them film a couple of them, which is interesting. It is interesting to see how much work goes into the production process.” 

The most challenging part of the job? “It is kind of hard doing repetitive work like that [Audio Correction]. It takes a while to go through. It’s a thirty minute program, and it takes longer than that going through each one.”

Do you have a fun story from your job? “One time we were waiting for a telecast to start because there was some delay, and Mr. Ames was going to be filming. And he was just sitting, just waiting, and he started singing a hymn, just to himself. But he was mic’d, so everyone was hearing him just sing a hymn to himself.”

Rachel White works as a Librarian for the Living Education Department and as a Transcriber for the Editorial Department. 

Rachel White at the RCM memorial library counter

Rachel White is a first-year student who works in the RCM Library at the Headquarters office. She works as the Librarian but also helps with Living Education projects, such as the Germany in Prophecy course. With any spare time she may (or may not) have, she transcribes for the Editorial Department as well. 

Rachel’s main duties:

  • Being a Librarian. This includes checking books in and out, keeping the library in order, and finding books and music for people. 
  • Archiving items. This is an ongoing project of archiving artifacts of recent Church history. 
  • Updating Living Ed bulletin boards/schedules. 
  • Assisting with Living Ed projects. This involves transcribing videos and finding resources like quotes and pictures for additional material on the course. 
  • Transcribing. This involves transcribing different sermons and sermonettes that are going to be distributed. 

Here’s what Rachel told us about: 

The most fun part of the job? “I like setting up displays [book displays in the Library], especially when there is nothing specifically that needs to go up there because I get to decide what category I want. I did displays on the Psalms and Acts. We have a bunch of different books on the brain and how being religious affects your brain, and I’d like to do a display for that too.” 

The most challenging part of the job? “One of things I’ve had the most trouble with is the transcribing and trying to get what the speakers say to make sense in writing. Everything they say makes sense but it doesn’t translate to paper. Trying to get what they say to work on paper is much more challenging than you would think.” 

Do you have a fun story from your job? “I found a folder [In Archives] that said, ‘Heresy Version.’ I was like, ‘What is this?’ And so I opened it up and it had letters between Tkach and other ministers and different stuff Worldwide was putting out at that time [during the apostasy]. It was really interesting. The way it was worded was very confusing and very slightly changing doctrines and changing mindset. So yeah, I found the ‘Heresy Version’ folder.” 

Read the previous work/study highlights we’ve put out if you’re interested!

Accounting Department

Mail-Processing Department 

Maintenance Department 

Living Education Department 

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.

Our Need for Tenacity

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

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

Mr. Julian Braddock began his forum with a question: “What is unique about the quality of tenacity?”

Tenacity is something that we see less and less of today. Our society focuses on the mindset of taking what they want, rather than thinking about what is best for themselves. In truth, working towards the things that we want should always come at the cost of some sort of convenience, but people fail to see it that way. For example, calling and texting may now come instantly to us, but the courtesy that used to come with messaging others is long gone. “Having conveniences doesn’t teach us how to have tenacity,” said Mr. Braddock. Why is tenacity an important trait to have in our lives?

The Problem of Laziness

When he used to work at a manufacturing plant, Mr. Braddock would notice that the people around him were given all the resources they needed to succeed in their work, but they did not want to do their job. Instead, they wanted to stand around for eight hours and get a check. If they did any work, they would always ask their superiors unnecessary questions, making them think for the workers instead of having them think for themselves. We see this mentality all over: “You help me so I don’t have to help myself.”

Tenacity is the quality of working hard, staying determined and persistent to do what you have set out to do. God asks us to do what the world sees as “hard” but is actually very simple. This is why He needs tenacious followers.

The Benefits of Dedication

Mr. Braddock said that, in grade school, he would usually do his schoolwork without asking himself why it was important to learn what he was being taught, leading to much of his early knowledge being pure memorization. In his junior year of high school, he took a class at his community college on electrical systems, and it changed his perception on schoolwork. He wanted to be the best in his class, and he worked hard for it—not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He explained that the best way to conjure tenacity is to be willing to be tenacious in the things that we want to do. Your goal can’t be something you are forced to do, but something you desire to do. If we don’t truly want to do something, then why waste time on it? When he finally found the field he wanted to work in, the work was all effort for him—not just memorization. His hard work paid off, and made for a satisfying work experience. If people don’t have tenacity, then they won’t really work for something they want. Frustration and anger will then build, and they’ll become lazy. 

God desires His people to never give up living His way of life. The world will try to discourage and uproot us; will we keep going, no matter how tired and anxious we may become? Do we have the true desire to serve God?

Persisting in Righteousness

Mr. Braddock explained that though we need tenacity, it can lead to certain pitfalls if used incorrectly. We find an example of a tenacious Old Testament figure in Job. Though Job was being brought down by his friends, we can clearly see his deep, godly persistence in Job 27:2-6:

As God lives, who has taken away my justice, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.

Job 27:2-6, New King James Version

Job was persistent in righteousness, but for a while he was also persistent in self-righteousness, which Elihu would eventually condemn. We must be willing to be corrected, so that we are not persisting in unrighteous habits. Paul was willing to be corrected by Christ, and strove daily to make up for his persecution of the Church. We also should be searching the Scriptures daily, and figuring out where we can better apply God’s word. 

God provides wonderful blessings for our faith. The way of the world does not lead to happiness or fulfillment. If we have friends in the world, how do they see us? Do they see us as different, or in line with them? We should want to be different. God wants people who show tenacity in His way. It’s easy to be lazy, but He wants us to work hard. Many proverbs show us the benefits of hard work. Looking to them, we can exercise tenacity within ourselves!

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 Media Associate. His hobbies include playing guitar, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies.

The Music Page

Have you seen our music page?

The Music Page is an expanding resource that Living Education is offering for church members. It features recordings of special music—all with no copyright restrictions—and offers a sheet music request mechanism to rent music from the Charlotte Library on the Music Library page. Updates on the Hymn Project can also be found here. This resource is available for the benefit of all members!

Here’s what we have on the Music Page:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Colossians 3:16 – NKJV

Observances of the Passover in Ancient Israel

Examine this excerpt to learn more about the ancient observances of Passover following Israel’s escape from Egypt!

Course Spotlight from God’s Feast Days: Passover

You Shall Be Perfect

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

Estimated reading time: 5 min.

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Mr. Long talked to the Living Education students about the command in Matthew 5:48: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” 

Mr. Long began with a quote by the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. “Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.” There is such a thing as a “perfect game” in sports, like in bowling or baseball. These are amazing feats and often take a lifetime to accomplish, but humans know that these are not true perfection. After all, it is impossible for a person to be perfect. What do we make of the command in Matthew 5:48 then? “People have used this scripture,” Mr. Long explained, “to say that the Christian religion is impossible; that God expects humans to be perfect, which is impossible.” This is not what God is saying. Mr. Long explained the true meaning of this passage with three points from the book of Philippians. 

Perfection Is Impossible for Humans

Mr. Long read this scripture: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). He explained we cannot think we have attained perfection already. We may not ever think of the literal words, “I am perfect,” but if our actions, words, and thoughts say that we think we are good enough, this is pride. 

The first point to understanding “you shall be perfect” is recognizing that we are not perfect and being “clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5). We must seek to grow and strive to become perfect.

“Forgetting Those Things Which Are Behind” 

Mr. Long returned to Philippians 3 and read verse 13. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind.” He emphasized that Paul says to forget our past sins and mistakes and accept that God has cleared them completely. But this is not easy. David acknowledged this struggle when he said “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). Even Paul himself is upset with his sin and faults when he says, “Oh wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24), yet in the years between these letters, Paul grows and develops his ability to forget his past sins and recognize that God has cleansed our sin through Christ’s sacrifice. We can now come before God with a clean conscience. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). A second part of understanding “you shall be perfect” is accepting that our sins are truly removed. 

Press Toward Perfection

Mr. Long finished the passage in Philippians 3:13: “and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” He continued with verse 14: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He explained that we are called to grow and become perfect. This is what Christ is admonishing us to do in Matthew 5:48. Mr. Long also explained the importance of being motivated to continue on this path of growth. A motivated person does two things: they run away from something they don’t want to be a part of and they run towards something they do want to be a part of. If we only run away, we are unstable and “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). If we only run toward God and don’t forsake the world, we are double minded (James 1:8). He emphasized that we must understand clearly what we are running away from and where we are running to. We must be able to visualize the Kingdom of God. We can meditate on what the Kingdom will be like; what it will look like, smell like, feel like, and sound like. This is a key to staying motivated and being able to  “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Conclusion: God Will Perfect Us

Mr. Long concluded by reading verses 15 and 16 in Philippians: “Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind” (Philippians 3:16). Perfection is not possible while we are carnal, but we can strive towards it. We can attain excellence by pursuing perfection. We should recognize our progress and continue to walk on that same path with the same mind. Mr. Long told us to always remember that our perfection is being achieved not by us, but by God and Jesus. He turned to 1 Peter 5:10 to illustrate this: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” God will bring us to perfection, and then we will be perfect as God is perfect! 

Mr. Weston gave a forum on reading good books, which can be helpful to growth and development as a Christian. Read about that forum here: Read Good Books

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.

For Such a Time as This…

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

Estimated Reading Time: 7 min.

Mr. Phil Sena began this forum by reminding us all about the purpose of the Living Education-Charlotte Program: to help young people build godly foundations and to prepare the next generation of leaders in the Church.

He then asked an important question: “Do you see yourselves as leaders?”

No matter what, life will present us with opportunities to step up and act as leaders—things that we will not expect, or even be prepared for! Mr. Sena pointed to the story of Esther to derive lessons in leadership that we can all put into practice. Esther was an orphan, adopted by her older cousin and made queen to the most powerful man on earth at the time. Despite her unusual circumstances, she was able to become an effective leader for God’s people. How can we succeed as a leader, like she did?

Accept the Challenge

As was said before, we will all face critical junctures in our lives where it will be entirely up to us to make difficult choices. It can be easy to try to reason our way out of doing something important. In Esther 4:11, Esther explained to Mordecai the risk of going into the king’s inner court uninvited, trying to tell him why she thought she was not able to make any sort of request to the king. Mordecai, however, understood that God would find another way to save the Jews if not for Esther. In verse 14, he said, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Understanding the potential consequences of inaction motivated Esther to face the challenge and do something completely foreign to her, breaking out of how she saw herself to step up to the plate. Mr. Sena recalled that in his first semester of Ambassador College, he was confronted by his “old nemesis: math.” At first, it didn’t feel like a pressing matter to him, because he was greatly enjoying the experience of being there and surrounding himself with his friends. But when he was close to flunking out, he knew that he had to overcome himself, and his own attitude, in order to pass. He had to step back to look at the situation realistically in order to change his actions. He knew he wasn’t “too dumb” to learn it—he just wasn’t going about it the right way. He soon made math his personal obsession, studying hard, and he even began to enjoy it! On his next two exams, he scored a 92% and a 100%, which allowed him to pass his classes. When we are faced with our own challenges, what will we do? The choices that we make define who we will become, so we have to be prepared to accept the challenges thrown at us and make the right decisions.

Become a Leader

Back in Esther 4:15-16, Esther asked Mordecai to inquire of the Jews of Shushan to fast for her, as she would also do. She didn’t feel strong enough to take her challenge alone, and that’s OK! She did what she felt was necessary to accomplish her goal. In the book of Esther, the only description we get of her is that she was a lovely and beautiful orphan. There is never a mention of her wisdom or courage, but God saw something in her that He could use to help save the Jews, so He gave her the opportunity and the help to do so. She was able to turn a corner and become a leader—but she could’ve chosen differently.

“I implore you to see yourself as a leader,” said Mr. Sena. Some define a leader as “someone who influences others.” We all have a certain influence on others, but what kind of influence should a leader have? Mr. Sena stated plainly, “A leader is someone who positively influences others.” He then explained that a positive influence on others results from a strong godly foundation, which is what we are building at Living Education. Is our core unshakable enough to resist making the wrong choices? It has to be, because when we are faced with an uncertain situation, we need to know what we are going to do about it in our hearts. That’s how leadership is performed.

Do The Work God Has For You

God can use anyone to be a great leader. We can accomplish a certain aspect of the Work through our everyday example. We are a light to the world, and we will always be watched for our example. We represent Christ in all we do.

Are we good at accomplishing our portion of the great Work? One of the primary ways to do the work God has for each of us is in setting an example that reflects God. It may seem small, but how we live could have significant ramifications. In 1 Peter 2:11-12, we read:

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:11-12

Eventually, the people of the world will be able to make the connection as to why we acted the way we did in our physical lives. Mr. Sena shared that, for a time, he worked as a criminal counselor after graduating from Ambassador College. In that seedy, smoke-filled work environment, he stood out to his coworkers, simply because he was the only one who didn’t curse. It came to the point that if others around him did, they would apologize to him for doing so. The extent of what God has for us to do may be big, like it was for Esther, or comparatively small, but we must always stay a good example for all.

At a certain point in our lives, we will all be thrust into the position of a leader. As I write this, the Judaic holiday of Purim—a good time to review the book of Esther—has only recently come and gone. Next time you read through it, a good thing to watch for would be the example of Esther. Her heart was put in the right place to become the kind of leader that her people needed. Are we willing to rise to the challenge, become a leader, and accomplish the work that God has set in place for us?

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.