Pentecost–what does it mean?

The Feast of Pentecost course explains the meaning and importance of the name: Pentecost.

The Feast of Pentecost is less than a month away! If you want to see exactly how many days it is, see the timer on our home page. But with Pentecost coming soon, we are pointing to our online course to help in your personal preparation for this feast day.

Below, there is an Learn More that concisely coveys a lot about Pentecost, including whether the name means “count fifty” or not. If you’re interested in learning about the symbolic importance of Pentecost, you can also read the LCN article: The Symbolic Meaning of 50, by Peter Nathan.

This Learn More comes from the section of the course: The Feast with Four Names.

Seven Lessons from Passover to Pentecost

During the year of the Exodus, the approximately seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost were marked by a journey, as the Israelites moved toward the mountain of God and entered into a covenant with their Creator. What lessons can we learn from this period of time?

Course Spotlight from God’s Feast Days: Pentecost

Living a Life of Creativity

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

Estimated reading time: 5 min.

Smartphone Users, Try our mobile friendly version!

Jonathan McNair—the Director of Living Education—explained how to expand our creativity in his recent forum presentation. 

This forum summary covers Mr. Jonathan McNair’s presentation titled, Living a Life of Creativity. In it, Mr. McNair showed the students what expanded creativity looks like, how God is a God of creativity, and three steps we can all take to expand our creativity. 

What Does Expanded Creativity Look Like?

Mr. McNair showed a video where a composer writes an orchestral song in 10 minutes (watch here). What amazing things could we do if we had the creative power to write an orchestral song in 10 minutes? The reality is that we can, if we expand our creativity. 

How do we truly become more creative? It is not just a matter of mindlessly playing music, writing, painting, etc. As Mr. McNair said, “Creativity is not anarchic. We can use principles to frame our skill and experience so we can create.” 

God’s Example 

There, in Genesis 1, is the creation account of the world as we know it today. Here, God is actively creating, which requires and exemplifies creativity, but it is not anarchic. Rather, God’s creation takes form and becomes orderly.

Similarly, God gave Noah an impeccable design for the Ark. Proportionally, it is a perfect balance of comfort, stability, and strength. But this is not to say that God only designs functionality. Passages in Exodus describe God’s design for His tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant. These show God’s attention to beauty and intricacy, with detailed instructions involving a variety of animal skins, dyes,  woods, and metals. 

“God is a God of creativity, a God of beauty, and a God of intricacy and design” – Mr. McNair

If anyone doubts that God cares about beauty, he should drive to a remote spot, away from lights, wait until nighttime, and then simply look up; then, there can be no doubt. As King David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). 

How to Be Creative

God is creative. Humans want to be creative. Our lives would be incredible and more enjoyable if we had expanded creativity. So how can we be more creative? Mr. McNair gave three ways to become more creative in whatever field we enjoy.

1) Learn the Patterns that Work

“In whatever endeavor you want to be creative in, learn the patterns that have already been built, explored, and laid out” (McNair). The composer in the video used musical theory and the instruments that exist in an orchestra—conventional patterns for music—to create his song. We can do the same in our endeavor by studying the example of others and reading books on the subject. As the old saying goes, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. 

2) Get the Little Things Right

“Creativity doesn’t come out of nowhere. It doesn’t come from people who don’t know what they’re doing, that don’t have experience, that don’t have skills” (McNair). We cannot skip steps and expect to be creative in a positive way. Using the video as an example again, that composer was an excellent piano player (and singer, I might add) and clearly studied musical theory. Even with only ten minutes, he took the time to plan his song, paying close attention to the part each section would play. Creativity is built on the little things. A creation is good when all those little things are just right. This takes skill, planning, and careful consideration. 

3) Work in Harmony 

“Oftentimes, creativity is a team effort” (McNair). The composer could not have made a song without the orchestra. Much of the creative endeavors in our lives will involve other people, and often our best creations will be the result of a group effort where other people contribute ideas and improvements. In light of this, we should not view other people as stepping stones or a means to end, but rather as companions and helpers. We should learn not to be in competition with others, but in cooperation. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). 

What Would You Do with Expanded Creativity?

This is a question we should consider and use to inspire us to be more creative. Expanded creativity that brings a more full and exciting life is right there; all we need to do is learn the patterns that exist, get the little things right, and work in harmony with others. It is right there for us to grab. The real question is, will we actually do it?

Expanding our creativity is a long process with ups and downs. Sticking with it takes tenacity. Mr. Julian Braddock, a minister-in-training, recently gave a forum presentation on developing tenacity in our lives. Read about that here: Our Need for Tenacity. 

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.


Find all episodes for Brother to Brother and Digging Deeper on our podcasts page!

On July 7th, 2020, Living Education posted the first Digging Deeper podcast, A Lesson From the Ethiopian Eunuch, produced by Kenneth Frank. Since then, Mr. Frank has made 69 episodes, and Digging Deeper has surpassed 10,000 downloads!

On November 3rd, 2022, the first Brother to Brother episode, Leading by Helping, was posted. Already,
Brother to Brother has 18 episodes and almost 6,000 downloads! You can find both of these in our new podcasts page.

Here’s what you can find on our page:

Simplify Your Life

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

Estimated reading time: 4 min.

Smartphone Users, Try our mobile friendly version!

In his forum presentation, Mr. West admonished the students to lead simple lives.

Mr. West showed the Living Education students how to avoid stress, complication, and chaos. The answer is to simplify your life. He explained the power of simplification with a story, and he gave three steps we can all take.

Thor Heyerdahl and the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition 

Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian explorer who studied Polynesian culture and history. He postulated that the natives of Polynesia were not from Asia but rather South America. This hypothesis was doubted because no one believed the primitive South American rafts could survive the 5,000 mile trip from Peru to French Polynesia. To prove it was possible, Thor Heyerdahl constructed an authentic balsa wood raft with primitive technology and set sail with a small crew from Peru in 1947, with no modern equipment. For 101 days, Thor and his crew survived on evaporated water and fish, using only the wind for power and the sun, moon and stars to navigate. For 101 days, Thor Heyerdahl knew how little a man needs to survive. This led him to say, “Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.” 

Three mandates of Ambassador College 

Our world today is hectic, overwhelming, and often too complicated for us to handle. Mr. West recalled the three mandates he received at Ambassador college: learn to teach, simplify your life, and come out of this world. Today, that second mandate is as critical as ever. How can we simplify our lives?

Put first things first

Christ gave his followers their priority: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God must be our first priority! Christ set the perfect example for us. Never once do we see Christ get distracted by food, clothes, homes, or money. Instead, He leads a simple life, traveling, teaching, and always doing God’s will.

So many distractions will try to take our attention. We should spend more time outdoors, more time engaging with others, more time expanding ourselves, and less time on technology. We must bring structure to our days, making sure the first things are put first. 

Reduce possessions and clutter

Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” We should regularly go through our possessions and remove whatever is unnecessary for our focus. The Apostle Paul told Christians to do all things “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Christ further clarified that we should not “lay up treasures on earth” but rather “lay up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). We must not hoard physical possessions in an unorganized, unprofitable way that distracts us from our ultimate goal. 

Redeeming the time

In the book of Ephesians, we find this admonition. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). This phrase, redeeming the time, means to buy back time, making the most of every minute. We must recognize our time, energy, and stamina are finite resources. Here are five practical methods to redeem the time. 

  1. Set goals. Use the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 
  2. Make lists by urgency and priority. 
  3. Avoid distractions. Be honest about what distracts us and take steps to avoid them. 
  4. Develop skills for speed and quality. Read manuals, watch videos, and take classes on tools you use frequently.
  5. Remember to take care of yourself. “Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous” (R. Emmerson). Good health is the ultimate productivity hack. 

Our only duty

Thor Heyerdahl lived the simple life for 101 days, but he achieved a great deal in those days. We are called to achieve much, much more, and we must live simply to maintain that laser focus that we need. Our life is not complex. As Solomon said, mankind only has two duties: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13.

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 First Fruits

What are “firstfruits”? Do they have spiritual significance in God’s plan? In order to understand the concept of “firstfruits,” we need to understand the physical harvest pattern in ancient Israel.

Course Spotlight from God’s Feast Days: Pentecost

Men’s Training Trip

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

Estimated reading time: 5 min.

Smartphone Users, Try our mobile friendly version!

Continuing the yearly tradition, the men in the Living Education program went hiking. 

The men in the Living Education program went on an overnight hiking trip, traversing 16 miles of Appalachian trail between Carvers Gap and I-19E. Overall, the trip was two days long—eight miles on each day—with a campsite at Little Hump mountain. 

Day One: Hiking from Carvers Gap to Little Hump Mountain

We arrived at Carvers Gap, eight souls in all—Andrew McNair, David Smith, Jontavius Mincey, Kaleb Johnson, Nathan Kroon, Mr. Penman, Mr. McNair, and of course, Mr. McNair. We broke into two groups. Mr. Penman took Andrew, Jon, and Nathan. Mr. McNair, accompanied by Mr. McNair, took David and Kaleb—I should clarify that it was Rod McNair and Jonathan McNair. However, I rather enjoy referring to them simply as Mr. McNair and Mr. McNair. I’m a simple man with a simple sense of humor.  

After grabbing our packs and taking some pictures, we set off on the trails. Mr. Penman’s group went first, and Mr. McNair’s group waited about 15 minutes before proceeding. After a few miles, Mr. McNair’s group came upon a fork in the trail. One path was a dead-end trail that led to Grassy Ridge, which had a commanding view of the neighboring mountains and valleys. David and I made the trek up the trail to Grassy Ridge. When we returned to the Appalachian trail, we found Mr. McNair and Mr. McNair resting quite comfortably. Around this time, both of the groups had summer sausage, tortillas, and mayonnaise for lunch. One group saved some of their summer sausage, and one group pressured their students into eating all of the food so Mr. McNair did not have to carry it anymore. The first mayonnaise and summer -sausage wrap was great. The fourth was less great. Excessive mayonnaise and hiking don’t go well. 

After a few hours of trekking up and down mountains, enjoying stunning views, and getting exhausted by steep uphill sections of the trail, the students arrive at their campsite: little hump mountain. We decided not to camp at the top of the mountain, even though it had a fantastic view, because high winds were forecasted for the night. Instead, we camped a few hundred feet away at a site with rocks and trees to break the wind.

The Overnight Adventure

Having safely arrived, we established camp quickly. We forewent the wooden palisade and moat as we felt sufficiently secure from any forays that could occur. We started a small fire and proceeded to use propane-fueled water boilers to prepare the provisions for dinner. We feasted upon instant macaroni and cheese, instant mashed potatoes (which were really good), hot chocolate, and other refreshments. Mr. Penman’s group even added their leftover summer sausage to their macaroni and cheese. The other students could only watch wistfully. 

The night was unfortunately cold, and the students had grown soft and spoiled with their typical indoor sleeping—for some, it was even their first overnight camping. Thus, it turned out to be a restless night for most. Around 3 am, the storm came in. The gale blew tirelessly. The tent covers flapped noisily through the night. Yet it was oddly majestic. The wind blowing fiercely, the sporadic rain falling soothingly upon the tents, and the light chill of the night reminded us constantly that we were alive and, unfortunately, awake. 

Day 2: Little Hump Mountain to I-29E

When morning came, we got up and started a fire. Fortunately, the rain had not lasted until sunrise, and the ground was relatively dry. We ate oatmeal, granola, and bagels. Then we packed up our tents and our packs and headed off. The previous day had been mostly uphill, and today would be mostly downhill. Or so they said. First we had to finish the climb to Big Hump Mountain. As I approached the base, I saw the side of the hill going straight up in front of me, and thought to myself, “I’m sure it’s not as bad as it looks from here.” I was right; it was worse. 

We climbed relentlessly up the trail. I recalled the poem “Excelsior” and thought of the allegory “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Somehow, I now understood these works much better. When we reached the top, I saw my favorite sight of the whole trip: a trail winding off in the distance, all of it downhill. 

The remainder of the day was a picturesque walk through the woods. In this area, the Appalachian trail is full of switchbacks, carrying us carefully down the mountain to the road. It was a marvelous section of forest, shaded by tall trees and filled with large rock outcroppings. Within a few more hours, we made it to I-29E to the truck we had left there earlier. 


The section of the Appalachian trail we hiked was fantastic. The beginning was filled with majestic views of the foothills sprawling as far as the eye can see. The end was adorned with a mossy and tranquil forest. Overall, the trip was 16 miles—not too difficult, and a great experience. It was a perfect place for an overnight hiking trip!

Read what the ladies in the Living Education Charlotte did instead of a hiking trip: A Ladies Weekend in Charlotte.

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 First Pentecost

What was the significance of the first Pentecost, and when was it observed by the ancient Israelites? Find out in this excerpt from our Bible Study Course!

Course Spotlight from God’s Feast Days: Pentecost

Don’t Be Fooled [about Social Media]

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

Estimated reading time: 6 min.

Mobile Users, Try our mobile friendly version!

For this forum, Mr. DeSimone—the head of the TV and Media department—brought a dose of reality about social media. 

It is no shock or surprise that social media addiction is growing to be a serious problem, especially in the United States. This forum summary will briefly cover the three topics addressed by Mr. DeSimone: the addictiveness of social media and smartphones, the traps of social media and smartphones, and the steps we can take to have a healthy relationship with the digital world that is the palm of our hands. 

It’s highly addictive—and it’s not by accident!

Mr. DeSimone began with a fascinating principle found in Proverbs 7. This passage specifically refers to a “crafty harlot” convincing a “young man devoid of understanding” to commit adultery, but the principle applies in many other situations, including the smartphone world today. The creators of social media, “freemium” games, and other apps know all the tricks in the book to get us to spend so much of our waking time on their product—to make addicts out of us, because addicts are good customers! If we don’t recognize this, then we become that “young man devoid of understanding” passing by the “crafty harlot.” We simply cannot afford to be ignorant on this subject. Proverbs 7 says this of the harlot: “She has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men.” And we can certainly apply this here; many intelligent, strong, and capable people have become addicts to smartphones and social media today!

Addictive features of the handheld universe

We simply must understand the methods these apps use to seize people’s attention and never let go. Mr. DeSimone listed a few, but the list is likely much longer. 

Endless scrolling is not unintentional or mindless. This is a deliberate effort to keep people on an app by always shoving new content in front of their eyes. Even video content does this with “related videos” or “next episodes” that play automatically. Another way phones can be addictive is the endowment effect. Essentially, the more time we invest in our phone world, the more invested we feel. Another huge factor is a creative use of social pressure. For instance, many apps have a “read” indicator that shows when a message has been viewed, creating a pressure to respond immediately.

These are not the only addictive features designed into apps! It is very common for social media and video content apps to show users what they like to keep them on their site. Yet, this is not as simple as just showing related content. Studies indicate that showing unappealing content too increases the satisfaction when the desired content is found, which encourages users to spend more time on that site. Another feature many apps use is social reward. Features such as the “like” button give a chance for users to be rewarded for posting content. 

Another tactic used to increase the addictive nature of social media and games on our phones is a shrewd use of the Zeigarnik Effect. This effect is the desire to complete unfinished tasks. Some apps and games force people to stop and either come back later or bypass the waiting by buying something. And lastly, we have the refresh button. This seemingly harmless feature of many social media apps is actually quite well-designed to keep users continuously thinking that there is new content waiting to be seen. 

The Treacherous Traps

All of these addictive features lead to a number of traps we can fall victim to if we are not aware. First, there is the ubiquitous pitfall of overusing our phones: wasting time. Companies have spent years and a lot of money figuring out how to make us waste our time on our phones. But it is a trap, a trap that takes away our most fundamental possession—our time. The second trap is scams. They are universal, and these scams must get some people, otherwise no one would attempt them. The third is predators. They typically look for younger people, but anyone can fall victim (think back to the Proverbs 7 passage). A fourth issue is pornography—a huge trap in our world today, and social media and excessive phone use is directly associated with this problem. A fifth trap is thinking people’s posts are reality. This can twist our perception of ourselves, leading to issues like body dysmorphia and covetousness. 

Sixthly (if that’s a word), we can even develop behavior mocking “ticks.” People today are unintentionally developing twitches from watching people with Tourettes and other conditions. Spending too much time on our phones can truly affect even our physical behavior! The seventh and final trap is following trends. Being exposed constantly to these trends can lead to us participating in them. And many of these trends are just downright dumb. 

Here’s What We Can Do

The handheld universe is addictive and riddled with traps. Here is how we navigate it successfully based on the Bible. Proverbs 25:16 shows us that even something good should be enjoyed in moderation, so we must moderate our phone time. Also, we must not be “brought under the power” of anything (1 Corinthians 6:12), so we cannot let ourselves be addicted to anything on our phones. Furthermore, we must walk wisely, redeeming the time in these evil days (Ephesians 5:15). 

One thing we must not do is think, “Oh, this can’t happen to me.” In reality, if we have a phone, it affects us. We may very well have fallen for the trap! Mr. DeSimone recommended Mr. Weston’s practical article Tame the Social Media Monster. Here are some steps we can take today.

  • Set a time limit. This can be on phone use and individual apps. 
  • Identify our triggers. Do we use it when bored? Stressed? Be aware! 
  • Remove apps from our phones. Sometimes, this is the best action to take.
  • Use website blockers. This is a great step to avoid specific sites. 
  • Find a replacement activity. Do something that is fun and in the real world!
  • Set boundaries on phone use. Only check our phones at set times.
  • Turn off notifications. This can be done for specific apps that are distracting.
  • Stick to one device at a time. Don’t use our phones and computer, or TV, at the same time. 

Grow Healthy Behaviors for the Online World

Mr. DeSimone concluded his fitting forum with a final thought: don’t cut off social media and smartphones—unless it is the best idea for you—but grow and improve your relationship with them over time. We must learn to avoid the addictive features and traps that are everywhere by taking the necessary steps so that we will not be manipulated by anyone or have our time and attention turned away from God. 

Dr. Douglas Winnail gave a forum recently that also explored the challenges of modern times, though Dr. Winnail focused on the comparisons between our time and the days of Noah right before the flood. Read about that here: Ark Builders

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.

Bible Crossword #1