Building a Personal Library

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

“And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12)

Mr. Rand Millich began his forum by reading this scripture from the book of Ecclesiastes. Through this quote, he explained that writers of the early centuries wrote in both the secular world at the time, as well as in writings from God that were preserved as part of scripture. 

These old books were often etchings or written on scrolls. Writing in this manner involved painstakingly long procedures, so authors guaranteed that any literature produced would be of the highest standard.

With the invention of the printing press, however, literature has been able to be mass produced. Due to this advancement in technology, there is almost no end to the amount of material we have at our disposal. The overall quality of reading material has gone in a steep decline, and some books are able to be pointless time wasters. 

How, then, are we to find books that have true value? Which books are useful and edifying? 

There are many works of literature that have the ability to act as a foundation for profitable study, as well as give access to information that can deepen our understanding of the Bible.

In order to find it, though, it is important to carefully consider the material being provided in any work of literature. In doing so, finding valuable literature becomes possible. 

Mr. Millich provided a list of books that influenced his own life and are part of his personal library, and encouraged us to build a personal library of works that will have a positive influence on our knowledge, character, and behavior. 

The following books were not always perfectly accurate, but they were foundational for further study and more accurate information.

Challenge your inner nerd. 

Here are the books that Mr. Millich determined were some of the most valuable in his collection. 

Biblical foundations: 

  • The Bible 
  • Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong
  • Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger
  • Halley’s Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley
  • Baker’s Bible Atlas by Charles F. Pfeiffer
  • Religions in America by Leo Rosten
  • A Harmony of the Gospels by A.T Robertson
  • The Books and the Parchments by F.F. Bruce
  • The Life and Epistles of St. Paul by W.J.Conybeare and J.S.Howson
  • The Story of the Christian Church by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
  • Antiquities of the Jews by Flavious Josephus
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (especially Chapter 15) by Edward Gibbon
  • The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop
  • The Encyclopedia of History by William Langer

Other books of further interest:

  • The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilius translated by Christian Cruse
  • The Little Journeys by Elbert Hubbard
  • The Notebook of Elbert Hubbard by Elbert Hubbard
  • The Annals of World History by James Usher
  • The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett
  • The Moral Compass by William J. Bennett
  • The Genesis Flood by John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris

Regardless of who we are or the background we have, these books can be useful in providing us with knowledge that can allow us to grow as potential members of the family of God. 

In addition to good content, it’s important that the means through which we read are appropriate as well. 

Mr. Millich presented print reading as the optimal method of reading. It allows us to slow down, apply critical thinking, appreciate beauty, discern truth, and gives time to apply deep and sophisticated reading. Although reading in print is usually preferable, reading online or digital materials can definitely be convenient and cost-efficient. 

Each method of reading has its place, so it’s important to consider what your goal is when reading a particular piece of literature.

Ultimately, the best books are the ones that mean the most to us.

The books that we find profitable and want to read are the books we typically spend the majority of our time on. It’s important to determine which books are the most important to us, because if we don’t like or want to read them, they could just take up space on our shelves. The books we don’t read will not impact us the way the books we choose to read do.

We are all influenced by outside sources. Oftentimes, it’s a combination of individuals we have known and the materials we have read. Not everything is always true or of value, but these sources of inspiration act as the foundations to our very personalities. 

It’s crucial to find what’s most important to us, and feed ourselves with knowledge that’s good.

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.

Making the Most of Living Education

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

In the latest forum, Mr. Strain began by asking the students to think back to when they applied for Living Education.

In these applications, the students outlined reasons they wanted to attend the program. He then asked us to compare our answers to how we live our daily life now that the program had begun. How well are  we living up to these goals? 

He provided a summary of the LE students’ reasons for wanting to attend the program. They were: 

  1. Become grounded in church teachings and improve spiritual life
  2. Learn lesson that will guide their lives
  3. Prepare for a future family
  4. Form relationships with young people of like mind and make friends
  5. Experience being part of the work of God at headquarters in Charlotte
  6. Be surrounded by others with similar goals
  7. Prepare for ultimate success in the future
  8. Prepare for personal and professional life based on the Bible
  9. Build confidence in interacting with others
  10. Acquire skills to become a Godly leader

Living Ed is giving us a chance to accomplish those goals. The material is in our grasp. How exactly, though, should we go about trying to accomplish them day-to-day? To answer that question, he offered a few key principles  to consider.

Stay committed and focused on your goals. 

Living up to the goals we set is more difficult than just writing out beautiful sounding words.Mr. Strain suggested that we try to fully internalize that we have been presented with a 9 month window of opportunity. Having a sense of urgency is crucial when it comes to once in a lifetime chances like the one we were given. 

“It will pass quickly,” he warned, “so every moment is one to take advantage of.” 

Aim to do what we should do before we do what we want to.

He explained that in life, and in this school year in particular, day to day activities end up being around 80% grunt work and 20% fun.

(But with Mr. McNair in charge, it may end up being 90% work and 10% fun!)

For people in any field, the hard work must be done before true leisurely work can be done. He stressed to the students to avoid letting the amount of work make us overwhelmed or demoralized, and to know that leisure will happen. Even if the work gets difficult, fun times will occur as well. 

An additional point he made is that for some, this is the first taste of freedom they’ve ever had. No parental supervision, no one constantly over their shoulders, and no one to make decisions for them but themselves. 

Attending LivingEd requires self discipline. 

Part of becoming an adult is to have prudence, and learning how to manage time and resources, as well as taking care of the physical state, are all components of that. As an example, he provided a quote by Ben Franklin:“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

A part of having effective time management is to seek God’s guidance DAILY in everything. Nothing is more important than personal study and prayer, and it can’t be replaced with some other form of study- even instruction in class is no substitute.

Develop effective communication skills 

The students were implored to get to know our class instructors, work supervisors, headquarters staff, and fellow students. If we need advice or help, these are the people to look for.

He reminded the students that our words, both spoken and written, are powerful tools, but can also be dangerous weapons if used incorrectly. In spoken communication, it is critical to be mindful of vocal tones and inflections, because those can cause misinterpretation of the message trying to be communicated. He also emphasized the danger of written communication such as texting, because once the message is sent, it can’t be taken back.

Make good friends

A final point that Mr. Strain made to help the LivingEd students succeed at accomplishing our goals is to make friends. As shown in Proverbs 18:24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. 

Today, such a friend is called a best friend, and although it’s impossible  to be best friends with everyone, we can aim to be as close with as many students as possible. 

Certainly, being in God’s Church could enable having multiple true friends. Being surrounded by others with similar goals makes that process much easier.  However, finding one who sticks closer than a brother is a true blessing, so that is something we can aim to put effort into as well.

These nine months are a serious time. It’s imperative for us to make the most of it.  We were encouraged to think about personally being fertile ground where the sower is scattering seed in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, which will produce much fruit.

Mr. Strain finished the forum with the following powerful closing statement, which the students will be sure to hold on to for the duration of the year.

“Study hard, work hard, and you will have time and occasion to play hard. Success is yours to choose.”

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.

Every Little Thing Counts

Author: Hyabiel Daniel  | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

In a recent forum led by Mr. Bonjour for LivingEd students, a powerful message was conveyed: Every member of the church, regardless of their perceived strength or stature, plays a vital role in the work of God.

Drawing inspiration from 1 Corinthians 12:15, Mr. Bonjour shared an anecdote from 1962 when President John F. Kennedy visited NASA and encountered a janitor who believed he was contributing to the monumental task of putting a man on the moon. This story beautifully illustrated how even seemingly small contributions can make a significant difference.

Unity and Purpose:

Mr. Bonjour emphasized that, just like the janitor at NASA, we each have a meaningful role within the Body of Christ (the church). He underscored the importance of leaving things better than we found them and highlighted that every part of the body has a unique purpose and value.

Effective Communication:

One crucial aspect of fulfilling our roles within the church is effective communication. Mr. Bonjour stressed that understanding others’ needs and ways of operating requires clear communication. Without it, misunderstandings, disagreements, and resentments can quickly arise. He encouraged positive confrontations as a means to improve difficult situations and foster harmony.

Optimizing Our Time:

Time is a precious resource, and it’s essential that we use it wisely. Mr. Bonjour reminded us of Ecclesiastes 9:10, urging us to make the most of every opportunity. He acknowledged that life’s challenges can sometimes overwhelm us, but he emphasized that for every problem, God provides a solution. He invoked Ecclesiastes 10:10, highlighting the value of continuous learning and the importance of sharing knowledge with others.

Honoring Others:

To maintain unity and minimize friction, Mr. Bonjour referenced Romans 12:10, which encourages us to be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love and to honor others by giving them preference. By honoring one another, we create an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation within the church community

In Conclusion…

Mr. Bonjour’s forum provided valuable insights into the importance of recognizing our unique contributions, fostering unity through effective communication, and making the most of our time. These principles are not only relevant to the church but can also be applied to our daily lives, helping us navigate challenges and build stronger, more harmonious relationships with others.

Hyabiel Daniel is a first-year Living Education Student. She is from London, United Kingdom, and typically attends the Seven Oaks Congregation. She enjoys studying social sciences and also loves spending time reading books, baking, and spending time with loved ones.

Student Life: Start of LE!

Author: Hyabiel Daniel  | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

Living Education Program: A Thrilling Start to a Journey of Connections

The first two weeks of the Living Education Program have been a whirlwind of introductions, orientations, and building connections. New friendships are forming, and the campus is buzzing with the excitement of fresh beginnings. Students have been busy settling into the different classes,  adjusting to the rhythm of their daily routines, and setting the tone for the coming months. Lectures, workshops, and team-building activities have paved the way for a strong sense of community, setting the stage for what promises to be an enriching journey.

Dorm Life: A Challenge and Classroom for Life Skills

There are 22 students this year, 11 girls and 11 boys. Dorm life will surely be a challenge for the students. However, this can also be a learning experience as this is the majority of the students’ first time being independent from their family. Sharing a house with non-family members can teach essential life skills like conflict resolution, responsibility, financial literacy, management, and effective communication skills. They also develop social and cultural sensitivity, and gain practical household skills, while building a network of friendships and gaining a deeper appreciation for home life.

As students transition into the core phase of the program, the campus has become a hub of curiosity and intellectual stimulation. Their unique perspectives and enthusiasm will and have already begun to enrich the classroom experience. The innovative curriculum spans various disciplines, encouraging students to think critically, connect ideas, and approach problem-solving from multiple Biblical angles. But the Living Education Program isn’t confined to traditional classroom settings. With regular field trips, guest lectures, and interactive projects, students are constantly reminded that learning is a dynamic and interconnected experience.

In-Work Study Program: Real-World Experience

One of the highlights of the Living Education Program is undoubtedly the in-work study program, which has now kicked off. Students have seamlessly integrated into professional environments. Headquarters is buzz with conversations about real-world challenges and solutions. This phase is about more than just work experience; it’s about cultivating a sense of responsibility, time management, and adaptability.

As students, we are excited about the opportunities for growth and learning that lie ahead. These upcoming semesters will be memorable and transformational for everyone.

Hyabiel Daniel is a first year Living Education Student. She is from London, United Kingdom, and typically attends the Seven Oaks Congregation. She enjoys studying social sciences and also loves spending time reading books, baking and spending time with loved ones. Hyabiel currently works as a writer and manages the Facebook page for the Living Education department. 

The Secrets to Staying Organized

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

In the first forum of the 2023-2024 school year, Mr. DeSimone explained to the LivingEd students that having organization in all aspects of life is the key to maximizing time and effort. 

To demonstrate, he introduced to them the “Five S’s of Lean” number game. The goal of the game was to prove just how inefficient working can be without an organized system in place. It’s easy to fall into habits of disorganization, and it’s easy to assume that work done under those conditions is ‘as good as it’s going to get’. But, as the students quickly learned, that is far from the case.

The S’s stood for:

  1. Sort: Keep only what is necessary and discard everything else- when in doubt, throw it out.
  2. Set in order: Arrange and label only necessary items for easy use and return by anyone
  3. Shine: Keeping everything swept and clean for inspection for safety and preventative maintenance of equipment.
  4. Standardize: The state that exists when the first three pillars of the 5S’s are properly maintained.
  5. Sustain: Making a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures.

The 5 S’s Game

Mr. DeSimone then had the students participate in the game, which had several rounds. Each time, he gave out sheets of paper with numbers distributed across the entire page. He asked the students to identify and cross off the numbers 1-49 in ascending order within 20 seconds. During each round, he incorporated different aspects of the 5 S’s to make the number sorting more efficient. 

In the first round, there were 99 numbers on the page with no organization at all. 

In the second, the numbers 50-99 were removed from the page. 

During the third, numbers were organized into grid boxes. 

Finally, in the fourth, numbers 1-49 were lined up in ascending order. 

With each round, the amount of time it took to eliminate numbers decreased dramatically. This game proved the benefit of organization, and showed that the more we force ourselves to be organized, tasks that we complete will be done much more efficiently.

The Myth of Multitasking

A second point that Mr. DeSimone made was that trying to multitask was a dangerous idea. To introduce this point, he referenced a book titled “The Myth of Multitasking”, written by Dave Crenshaw. The passage he read to them told the story of a woman who was trying to explain to the book’s narrator that she was skilled at multitasking. As proof, she claimed that she was able to continue working at her computer while coworkers talked to her face-to-face. Although she bragged that she was able to focus on the two actions at one time, the narrator explained to her that instead of multitasking, she was doing something called “switch-tasking”. 

Switch-tasking is the action of shifting your full attention between multiple different tasks in quick succession. When many people claim to be multitasking, they aren’t actually doing two things at once. In reality, they are simply completing the action of shifting back and forth between things to focus on.

Mr. DeSimone then went on to give a second exercise, wherein he had the students write out the phrase “multitasking is a myth” one letter at a time. After writing each letter, the student was to number it, starting from one. They continued on in that way until the last letter-number pair was written. 

This took a long time, and the students made plenty of mistakes. 

The second time this exercise was done, the students were asked to write out the full phrase first, then follow up with writing the numbers. Doing this decreased the time it took by half. 

His final takeaways from this exercise were that in the first case, no tasks were fully completed until the full time was up. The longer time was accompanied by mistakes and confusion.

But in the second case, two tasks were put out in half the time, and on top of that, each task was done much quicker and more effectively than in the previous instance. 

New Perspectives

These examples provided the students with an extremely important lesson. Organization, order, maintenance, and time prioritization are all important skills for anyone to have, and for individuals who, like the students, have jam-packed schedules, these skills are even more crucial. The students left this forum with new perspectives on efficiency, and were even more prepared to have a great and profitable year. 

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.