Forum Summary: The Temptations of Leadership

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

For the last forum of the second semester, Mr. Jonathan McNair wanted to express that the next generation of God’s Church will need leaders, and the Living Education–Charlotte program has given the students the opportunity to fill that role.

God will give the ability to lead to those called to do so. However, Satan will also tempt them to use their abilities and reputation for selfish gain. Mr. McNair referred to the account of the temptation of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4 as a prime example of this. Noting that this trial immediately followed Christ’s baptism, he encouraged the students to consider that when one is successfully growing as a Christian, they should prepare for increased temptations. He then examined the three temptations that Christ faced, which we too will have to face throughout our lives.

Temptation 1: Pain and Pleasure

Mr. McNair defined maturity as the ability to delay pleasure and endure pain. The mark of immaturity is just the opposite. We live in a very immature culture that is driven by the immediate pleasures of sin and strives to avoid pain at any cost. Looking to Christ’s example, we can see in Matthew 4:2–4 that after forty days of fasting, He was incredibly hungry. There’s nothing wrong with being hungry, and Christ certainly had the power to make bread for Himself, but Satan was tempting Him to use His powers for selfish reasons. Paralleling this with our own lives, Mr. McNair explained that God did not give us our gifts and abilities for our benefit, but the benefit of others. He then asked the students to consider how they are using their abilities. Sometimes, to serve others, you must delay gratification, even going without it entirely. 

Mr. McNair then explained that another aspect of this temptation is self-reliance. We must look to God for our unmet needs because we will never be able to fully solve our problems without Him. As Matthew 6:25–39 tells us, God knows exactly what we need, so we should focus on growing as Christians and have faith that He will provide.

Temptation 2: Popularity and Praise

The second test is a test of integrity. Mr. McNair defined having integrity as being the same person in public and in private, having your beliefs match your actions. Success is a powerful measure of integrity because those who achieve it are put in the spotlight, and people will be watching them. If handled poorly, success can destroy people. However, it is possible to be a successful leader and maintain your integrity. 

Looking again to Christ’s example, we can see in Matthew 4:5–7 that He was taken by Satan to the temple. This is significant because the temple was one of the most public buildings in Jerusalem. In tempting Him to jump, Satan was goading Christ to prove Himself and show that He was the Messiah in a dramatic fashion. This was a temptation to use His abilities to draw attention to Himself. 

Mr. McNair then asked the students to consider whether they use their abilities to glorify God or glorify themselves. How we react when we receive praise and when others receive praise is a test of character. If we don’t concern ourselves with popularity and maintain an attitude of humility, we can keep praise from going to our heads.

Temptation 3: Prosperity and Possessions

This is a test of priority. As potential members of God’s family, we have the opportunity to attain great possessions and honor. But Mr. McNair warned that our goal should be to live such a life that we can serve with Christ in helping others, not so that we can attain riches. Christ is going to be King, but His goal was to redeem humanity and bring them into His family, not to attain the riches and glory that come with kingship. In verses 8–9 we can see that Satan was tempting Christ with compromising His purpose in life by worshiping him and avoiding the suffering He would have to go through to attain kingship. Mr. McNair prompted the students to consider how they will handle these things. 

The key to overcoming this temptation is to develop a generous heart and spirit. To illustrate this further, Mr. McNair referred to Matthew 16:24–26, explaining that the desire for success and riches can consume us, so we must be careful that we don’t get our priorities mixed up in life. How we use our blessings will reflect where our priorities are. Mr. McNair warned the students to not let their stuff become their world, but to generously use the things they have to impact others positively.

None of us are immune to temptation. Mr. McNair warned the students that as they begin the next phase of their lives, they may have to face challenges that will surprise them, and some of those challenges will revolve around leadership. Mr. McNair explained that we will only be able to serve as leaders if we can properly handle these temptations, as Christ only began His ministry after He overcame Satan. We will have to prove ourselves and practice dealing with these challenges. If we do, we will be able to lead effectively and successfully, just like our example, Jesus Christ.

Forum Summary: The Seven C’s for Navigating Life

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

With the Living Education–Charlotte semester drawing to a close, Dr. Douglas Winnail wanted to share with the students seven principles—all starting with the letter C—that would help them through life.

He explained that if we focus on these things periodically throughout our lives, they’ll keep us from making some common mistakes, and our lives will be better for it.

1. Character

Character is who you are. Dr. Winnail asked the students, “How would you describe yourself? How do [others] see you?” He then referred to Exodus 18:21 to illustrate that character is a very important quality God looks for in leaders and potential members of His Family. If we are to lead in the Kingdom, we’ll need to develop the kind of character God can trust. Dr. Winnail emphasized that character is one of the most important qualities we can develop in this life. The way we can do this is by making the right choices. Our choices guide our character development, so, when faced with temptation, we must stand strong.

2. Competence

“Whatever field you go into, strive to become the best.” Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to develop the skills they’ll need and get the best information and education on whatever career they choose. But we should apply this approach to every aspect of our lives, not just our careers. Dr. Winnail referred to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 as an example of competence. He encouraged the students to try many things and, when they find something that fits them, try to develop the skills they need to be the best in it.

3. Commitment

Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us that whatever we decide to do, we should do it with all our might. Dr. Winnail advised that we carefully consider what it is that we’re going to put that effort into. We should think about where we want to go in life and why we want to go there, asking God to help guide us to where He can best use us. Once we’ve decided on a path and have determined that it’s the right way to go, we must be committed to it to find success. When we’re baptized, we’re committing to a way of life—but, as with Abraham and Isaac, God may test us to see how committed we really are.

4. Courage and Conviction

It will take courage and conviction to follow through on that commitment. Dr. Winnail referred to 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to explain that when it comes to our beliefs, we must take the time to prove them. We need to prove that there is a God and that He has a plan because it will take courage and conviction to live His way in this world. There will be trials and temptations, but we can have that courage if we trust in God.

5. Compassion and Concern

In the end times, people will only care about themselves. However, we have been called to come out of this world and care for other people. Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to consider how what they do in life can help other people. We should look for ways to serve others and notice their needs. Dr. Winnail advised that we should ask God to open doors for us that will allow us to serve others in a greater capacity.

6. Communication

Referring to Proverbs 31:26, Dr. Winnail explained that we can develop kindness as we speak to people and that we can learn to speak wisely by reading through the Proverbs. Many social issues stem from a lack of communication, and the Bible has a lot to say about that. For instance, if we have a problem with someone, the Bible admonishes that we talk to them. Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to develop the capacity to talk and build relationships with people.

7. Conversion

What does it mean to be converted? Signs of conversion are the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:15-26 and a desire and determination to do things God’s way as opposed to our own. Conversion also involves being teachable and a willingness to forgive—including going to someone to apologize for an offense you caused. 

Dr. Winnail expressed that these principles will help us navigate through life. He encouraged the students to consider these “Seven Cs” and the lessons we have learned this year so our lives will be richer and more successful.

Forum Summary: The Importance of Learning History

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

History is important, and our understanding of history can shape our view of the world.

But if we judge the men and women of history by our standards, we learn only about ourselves. We must shed our modern biases to better understand history. Having said all of that, and in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine raging on, Mr. Dexter Wakefield took the Living Education–Charlotte students on a tour through Russian history to bring clarity to current events, as history isn’t just about the past, but also about the present and future.

The Rise of the Soviet Union

Russia has a long history of expansionism. By the end of the Russian monarchy, it was an empire covering a vast territory, yet it wasn’t until Vladimir Lenin and the rise of the Soviet Union that it became a world power. Lenin led the Russian Revolution and overthrew the monarchy. He was considered a great thinker, a highly influential writer, and an utterly ruthless leader. However, as Mr. Wakefield explained, Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin, was far worse. From 1928 to 1953, Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist. It is estimated that twenty to thirty million people were killed under his regime—almost twice the carnage of Hitler’s administration! This was due to Stalin’s harsh dealings with those who disagreed with him, as anyone who was in any way opposed to his government was to die by firing squad or be sent to the dreaded gulag.

Mr. Wakefield took a few minutes to reflect on the Soviet Union and Communism by reading a collection of quotes from individuals who either lived through that time or looked back on it. He explained that Stalin’s version of Communism—commonly referred to as Stalinism—focused heavily on not only control of people’s actions, but also control of their thoughts. He illustrated how they could do this with a quote from George Orwell’s novel 1984: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” Mr. Wakefield warned the students that this is exactly what many are doing today through revisionist history—seeking to control our thoughts so that they can control our actions. While Vladimir Lenin was the father of the Soviet Union, Karl Marx was the father of Communism. As Mr. Wakefield put it, “Marx built the cart, and Lenin put the wheels on.” The Soviet Union was the ideology of Marxism put into practice on a massive scale, and its impact on the world is felt even today.

The Iron Curtain and a European Reset?

Near the end of World War II, Germany was on the decline. With victory imminent, the Allies met to determine the state of postwar Europe. Mr. Wakefield explained that when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Stalin designed postwar Europe, Stalin promised to provide democratic freedoms to the nations that fell under Russian control. But in truth, he had other plans. While the nations were allowed to elect their leaders, only Communists were allowed to run. Any other party that tried to rise would be swiftly crushed with military action. Thus, Russia absorbed the nations entrusted to it under a unified military command. As the Soviet Union rose in power, NATO was formed for the protection of Europe. These events led to the Cold War, a time through which Mr. Wakefield lived. It is generally accepted that the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union’s fall due to economic pressure and the increasing political freedom of its people. However, Mr. Wakefield expressed that a kind of Cold War is now back on; with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there’s a concern that tactical nuclear weapons—small nukes intended for battlefield use—will be deployed, which presents the risk of escalation into a full nuclear exchange. Mr. Wakefield remarked that, until recently, he hadn’t heard these things mentioned in the news since the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

The invasion of Ukraine has prompted many European nations to reconsider their place in world politics. For example, Germany has reversed decades of policies overnight and begun rebuilding its military. Catholicism has pushed to bring the Eastern Orthodox religion—which holds sway over much of Russia—into its fold. Vladimir Putin understands the power religion has over Europe and has accused the West of trying to split Russia. The growing alliance between Russia and China could spell trouble for the United States, Mr. Wakefield said, as both nations yearn to see America’s decline and aim to replace the American dollar as the national reserve currency. 

Mr. Wakefield stressed that things can happen fast. Biblical prophecy tells us that ten European nations, lending their power to a religiously backed autocrat, will dominate the world scene primarily through finance and trade. They will be in conflict with two powerful alliances from the Middle East and Asia. Could the invasion of Ukraine be the catalyst that leads to a reorganization of the European Union and solidifies a European identity among the nations? Could the Russian territory west of the Ural Mountains be split from Eastern Russia due to political and religious pressure and join the EU as one of the ten end-time nations subservient to the Beast power? Stranger things have happened lately—only time will tell. 

In conclusion, Mr. Wakefield told the students that while history is occurring all around us, we must get the facts. He warned us to beware of revisionist history and to critically examine what we hear and see—and above all, to keep Jesus’ charge found in Mark 13:37: “Watch!”

Assembly Summary: Living a Life of Creativity

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Jonathan McNair opened his Assembly lecture by asking a series of questions: “How small is your life? How narrow is your experience? How far have you exercised your creativity?” 

To illustrate his point, Mr. McNair showed the students a video of songwriter Ben Folds composing an orchestra piece in ten minutes. The host of the program solicited the audience to select the piece’s key, tempo, and the main lyric line—an obscure sentence from the program booklet. Once the audience had given their answers, Ben Folds was given ten minutes to create a song. As we watched the composition take place, we saw a creative mind come up with music on the spot.

            After the video, Mr. McNair emphasized that creativity started with God and His design. God also created creativity in humans, and we have the capacity to create many things that we put our minds to. We see examples of biblical creativity in Noah’s ark, the Tabernacle, the priests’ garments, and even Herod’s temple.

Mr. McNair gave us three principles for living a life of creativity:

  • Use Patterns for success: This step is a critical one in expressing creativity. One cannot be creative and yield results by fiat. Instead, patterns must be developed and practiced in order for us to accomplish whatever it is that we would like to achieve. If a person wants to build something, they must learn the proper codes to make sure that the building is safe. We must take to heart the patterns and principles that God gives us for success. Not all knowledge comes from the Bible, but all knowledge is framed by the Bible. Mr. McNair strongly urged the students to not stop being curious or asking questions about how things work.
  • Get the little things right: God started off the commandments by stating the obvious, revealing to Israel who He is and reaffirming His authority in Exodus 20:1. Similarly, we need to start with the basics and get those right before we are able to live a life of creativity. If we are not faithful in getting the little things done, how are we going to get anything else right? To illustrate his point, Mr. McNair quoted a caption from a photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa: “Mediocrity takes a lot less time, and most people will not notice the difference until it is too late.”
  • Work in harmony with others: Creativity does not equate to doing our own thing. Instead, it is most productive when we synchronize and involve ourselves with other people. In Philippians 2:1-4, we are admonished to be of like mind with the brethren, and in order to achieve that, we must esteem others better than ourselves. We are not to use relationships as stepping-stones, but willing to share and harmonize with others. We must be willing to lead, but also to follow.

Mr. McNair closed his lecture by showing the students another short video. This one showed Elton John composing a song in front of a live audience. An audience member had an electric oven manual with him, and he asked Elton John to compose a song using this manual. Elton John succeeded marvelously, regaling the audience with an on-the-spot pop song about using an electric oven! Mr. McNair challenged the students to use their God-given gifts and intellect to build a life of creativity.

Assembly Summary: Biblical Imperatives for Young People

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 6 min.

Mr. Kenneth Frank opened his lecture to the Living Education students by stating that the Bible is a very big book and has many instructions in it that are geared toward young people.

Throughout this lecture we focused on God’s imperative to young people on how to seek Him. Mr. Frank quoted from a brief article in McClintock and Strong: Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, by John McClintock and James Strong which states “the ancients considered youth in a much more extended view than we do. They regarded it relatively with strength, activity, vigor; and while a man retained those attributes he was reckoned a young man, or a youth, without reference to the number of his years.”

Mr. Frank then gave examples of men who were referred to as youth or a young man, regardless of his age such as Benjamin who was in his thirties and Joshua who was in his forties. The young lack the wisdom and experience of the elders and therefore they are repeatedly considered in the book of Proverbs as “sons”. There are times that the Proverbs describe the young as being simple. This is not meant to be an insult but is used to describe one who is inexperienced. God gives many instructions to young people throughout Scripture, as Mr. Frank explained. In the remainder of the presentation, he highlighted fourteen of these “imperatives” in the following list:

Fourteen Imperatives for Young People from the Bible

1. Study God’s Word

We are told in Psalm 119:9-16, that in order to cleanse our way and not sin we must study the Word. The cleansing here is a spiritual one which cleanses the mind and heart. It is vitally important for us to know God’s word in our hearts so we can strive to overcome sin. The more we know of God’s instruction, the less likely we are to stray away from it.

We must also meditate on God’s word. When we meditate, we do not empty our minds like in Eastern meditation, but we fill our minds with God’s instructions. We see examples of this in  Psalm 71:17-18 and Job 29:1-5.

2. Praise God

In Psalm 148:1-6, 12, is the admonition to praise the Lord—beginning with the angelic host, the creation, and finally young men and women. All people, regardless of social status, are united in that we should all praise God. In the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-13, Christ set the example that even our prayers should begin with praising God, followed by our request, and end with praising God again.

3. Honor your parents

This is a command listed in Exodus 20:12. We are to always honor our parents, regardless of our age. However, as young people we should especially consider that parents have given us much, and God expects us to honor and respect them.

4. Obey your parents in the Lord

Ephesians 6:1-3 commands us to obey our parents, and as Mr. Frank explained, this applies as long as we are under our parent’s roof. When we are married and move away the relationship with our parents changes, because now we are bound to a new family with our spouse. To obey means that we recognize the authority of those who are over us.

5. Fear God

We are commanded in Psalm 34:11-14 to fear God. Fear involves revering, and being in awe of God, but it also involves being afraid to disobey God and break His commands. There is a danger in not fearing God and that should motivate us to fear Him. He has the power of life and death over us. The fear of God is also defined as the beginning of wisdom in Proverbs 9:10 and in Proverbs 8:13 it is defined as hating evil.

6. Trust in God

In Psalm 71:5-6, we see the psalmist was loyal to God from his youth. God should be our trust as it was for this psalmist.

7. Seek God

In Proverbs 8:1-2, 12-17, wisdom is depicted as a lady who extends an invitation to the inexperienced to learn from her. She promises life and not death, and she is very public and spiritual. 

8. Rejoice in your youth

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 admonishes us to rejoice in our youth, while we are yet physically able to gain a variety of experiences.

9. Put evil away

We are also admonished of this in Ecclesiastes 11:9-10. We are to let the timely recollection of God’s judgment and the fleeting nature of youth influence our conduct, and to stay away from that which will cause lifelong sorrow and regret.

10. Forget the shame of your youth

In Isaiah 54:1-5, God is telling Jerusalem that when she repents and returns to Him, He will have mercy on her and help her forget the shame of your youth. If we have made mistakes in our past, we can turn to God with a repentant heart and put those things behind us to we can move forward in our lives.

11. Bear the yoke of responsibility in your youth

In Lamentations 3:25-27, we are admonished to accept responsibility and work hard in our youth.

12. Be sober minded

In Titus 2:1-8, we see that we are to be sober or wise. This admonition is geared towards the older men and women in teaching the younger to be sober.

13. Submit to spiritual elders

In 1 Peter 5:1, the apostle urges his audience to submit to their spiritual elders. The elders have the responsibility to feed the flock and to set good examples. The young must submit to elders, which could be either the physical elderly or it could be the spiritual elders, our ministers.

14. Overcome Satan, the devil

1 Peter 5:8 warns us to be sober and vigilant because our enemy is always looking for a way to accuse the brethren. We also read 1 John 2:12-14, where John as an elder writes to the church encouraging the young to be strong because they have overcome the wicked one. As Mr. Frank brought out, this instruction also connects to his first point—to study God’s Word.

God provides directions and instructions for young people. We, as young adults, have the potential to achieve great things for God in our years of service to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Work of God’s Church depends on the next generation being properly trained. The students were encouraged by Mr. Frank to enjoy the special time we have and to make the most of our fleeting youth, as it will serve well for the rest of our lives in our service to God and to His Church. 

Forum Summary: The Time for Passover

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

Timing is important to God, and it’s important that we keep His feasts at their appointed times.

However, every Passover season, some question whether God’s Church keeps Passover on the right day. Why does the Church keep Passover at the beginning of the fourteenth of Nisan, while the Jews keep it on the fifteenth? Wouldn’t the Jews know when the proper time for Passover is? For his forum, Mr. Michael Aviles aimed to answer these questions and explain to the Living Education—Charlotte students why this topic is important.

To find the source of this controversy, Mr. Aviles referred to Leviticus 23:5. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word twilight in this verse is translated from the Hebrew root word ereb. Later in verse 32, we find the word evening, which, according to Strong’s, also comes from ereb. It is used to describe the end of the ninth day, before the Day of Atonement begins on the tenth. This would lead one to believe that Passover begins at the end of the fourteenth day. Mr. Aviles explained that the reason for this lies in the fact that in verse 5, twilight is translated from the Hebrew phrase ben ha arbayam, which is commonly translated as “between the two evenings.” This phrase is not found in Strong’s, which Mr. Aviles explained cannot always be relied upon for an accurate translation. This is where the controversy begins, as there are many interpretations as to what period of time this refers to. Some Jewish scholars interpret this phrase to refer to the period between 1:00 PM and sundown. It is during this time that the Jews would have killed the Passover lamb, and then taken the Passover seder at the start of the fifteenth day. However, John 18:28 shows that the Jews kept Passover the day after Christ and His disciples did, which means that this interpretation can’t be correct—surely, if anyone would know the right time for Passover, it would be Jesus Christ! 

God is Never Late

So, how can we tell exactly when ben ha arbayam occurs and prove that Passover takes place at the start of the fourteenth day? Mr. Aviles referred back to Leviticus 23:32. Noting how ereb is used in this verse, he explained that “at evening” is translated from another phrase, ba erev. Most Bible scholars and Jewish translators agree that this phrase refers to the time between the sun touching the horizon and disappearing completely at sunset. So, with this frame of reference, we can figure out when ben ha arbayam occurs by finding a passage of scripture that uses both ben ha arbayam and ba erev

Exodus 16:12-13 is one such passage: “‘I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.”’ So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp….”

Both ben ha arbayam and ba erev appear in this verse as twilight and evening, respectively. Mr. Aviles noted that if ben ha arbayam occurs between 1:00 PM and sunset, as Jewish scholars profess, this would mean that God was late in delivering the quail. God acts precisely when He says He will, so that couldn’t have been the case—therefore, ben ha arbayam must occur after ba erev. Mr. Aviles then explained that the Church teaches that ben ha arbayam refers to the period between the sun disappearing below the horizon and complete darkness. This period of time, which lasts thirty to sixty minutes, is when Israel was to kill the lamb and take the Passover, and it is when the baptized members of God’s Church engage in the Passover service—the very beginning of the fourteenth day of Nisan. 

Jesus Set the Example

But how did the Jews lose this truth? Mr. Aviles explained that this may have occurred during the first Passover of King Hezekiah’s restoration found in 2 Chronicles 30. Due to the unique conditions surrounding this Passover, it was kept at the temple. It is theorized that due to the vast amount of people taking this Passover, the process of sacrificing the lambs may have gone on well into the night and ended that afternoon, thus causing the meal to be taken at the beginning of the fifteenth of Nisan, at sundown. This temple Passover was supposed to be a one-time affair, not a replacement for the domestic Passover, but the Jews continue to keep the temple Passover to this day. The Jewish historian Josephus confirmed this by stating that, during his time, there was both a domestic Passover and a temple Passover sacrifice. Jesus and the Apostles observed the domestic Passover at home, but the Pharisees still had yet to eat their Passover when Jesus was taken into the Praetorium—they were observing the temple Passover, eating it on the fifteenth.

God’s Holy Days occur when they do for a reason. As Mr. Aviles stressed, it’s incredibly important that we understand and can defend this fundamental Church doctrine so that we are not swept away in confusion. It is truly a blessing that God has granted His Church knowledge that so few have, so that we may properly observe the time for Passover!

Assembly summary: The Foundation of All Knowledge

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

As an alumnus of Living University, Mr. Jacob Hall wanted to impress upon us a lesson that he’d learned as a student.

He asked the students what the phrase “The Bible is the foundation of all knowledge” meant to them. One student responded that the Bible is the starting point for learning, and another said that it is a guidebook. 

Mr. Hall then defined “knowledge” as facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education, and he defined “foundation” as an underlying basis or principle. If the Bible is the foundation of all knowledge, then it gives the correct starting point on which we can build information, facts, and skills related to any subject of study. We were then advised that whatever path we take, we will need to evaluate the information that we come across, thinking about what it is telling us and where it is coming from. Before we internalize any knowledge, we must be sure that our knowledge is built on the right foundation. Mr. Hall made two main points to illustrate this.

1. The Bible is relevant to our everyday lives

Mr. Hall emphasized that regardless of what the subject or topic is, the Bible is the foundation of all knowledge; we cannot assume that it is silent on any particular area of interest in our lives. Whether we’re learning about marriage, health, finances, or work habits, we need to know what the Bible says about it first. The Bible even teaches us how to interact with others—how to speak and how not to speak. Since God is the Creator of all, we can and should look to His word for guidance on whatever we’re trying to learn. Proverbs 2:1-6 demonstrates that from the mouth of God proceeds knowledge of the world.

2. Test all information against God’s word

The other point that Mr. Hall expounded on is that this world is full of the wrong type of knowledge. We are living in a world that pumps out more and more information for us to consume, and so much of it can lead us in a wrong direction. For example, each day there are approximately 500 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute. We have to be careful about what we accept and take in, because much of the wealth of information that is available does not line up with God’s way of life. In 2 Peter 3:17-18, we are warned not to be “led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

As Mr. Hall made clear, growing in godly knowledge is especially important in the information age. We must study and implement practical judgment, adding the right type of knowledge to our faith and understanding that the right knowledge begins with God.

Forum Summary: Marxism and A New Kind of War

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

For his forum, Mr. Michael Brown warned the LivingEd students of the pervasive communist agenda in our world today and that we should be careful to not get caught up in it.

Mr. Brown examined the Communist Manifesto and looked at what exactly it promotes. 

What is Communism?

Communism was an idea conceived by Karl Marx and first put into practice in the Soviet Union in 1917. Now the western world has become the biggest promoter of this ideology. Mr. Armstrong commented on Communism back in 1956, explaining that proponents of this idea have engaged in a new kind of psychological war using propaganda, infiltration, and subversion. They target our minds and our moral and spiritual values. This is not a war against a single nation, but a “plainclothes army” of ordinary-looking citizens who promote Marxist ideas. This army has formed a political party that we would recognize today as the radical left. “Political Correctness”, revisionist history, the villainization of our economic system, “progressive” education, Hollywood, and the breakdown of the family are just some of the ways this party saps our societal strength and perverts our morals. Mr. Brown explained that Communism—or Marxism—is just one of the many ideologies that have threatened the Church in times past. This ideology is one of the reasons certain church programs have been banned from multiple TV stations. These ideas demand that everyone conform to them, or else face punishment.

2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us to not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, so, Mr. Brown read some points from the Communist Manifesto to examine what Marxism is. Karl Marx viewed the course of history as a struggle between the rich and poor. To usher in the perfect world, the poor would have to violently overthrow the rich. This first point suggests that we need to change the world through radical action. This is why we see so much anger and hatred from leftist thinkers in our society. The second point Mr. Brown highlighted was the Marxist idea of doing away with private property. 

Mr. Brown explained, as a third point of this ideology, that Marxism opposes the family structure. Marx viewed children as slaves to their parents and desired the abolition of the family. We can see how this idea has already affected the world we live in. Fourthly, Mr. Brown brought out that Marxism seeks to abolish countries and nationalities. Finally, he stressed that it is important to note that Marxism teaches the destruction of all religion, tradition, truth, and morality as a means to create a perfect “utopia”. This is one of the aims of Communism—not to coexist with us, but to get rid of God’s people and His truth.

What can we do?

Mr. Brown told us to be skeptical and to think critically about the things we hear and see in this society. He referred to Proverbs 18:17, explaining how things that may seem right on the surface often show their true colors upon further examination. Even movements that seemingly promote good purposes, such as women’s rights and social justice, upon closer examination we find that these ideologies often are connected to and promote truly terrible things. Using the “Women’s Rights” movement as an example, Mr. Brown explained that one major goal of the movement is to advocate for a government-sanctioned right to murder children through abortion. We therefore must be careful not to accept seemingly innocent ideas without deeper investigation.

Isaiah 59:14 speaks of a time when Truth has fallen in the streets. We could relate this scripture to Marxism today which aims to abolish truth in favor of its false narrative. To counteract this ideology, Mr. Brown stressed that if we spend our time doing the right things and learning from God’s word, we can resist the false narrative the world promotes, and develop skills and gain experience that will help us not only in this life but also in the life to come.

Forum Summary: The Moon, Mars, and Beyond—God’s Awesome Universe

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

For the forum this week, the Living Education­–Charlotte students got to hear from guest presenter Dr. Roedolph Opperman, a systems engineer who worked on the fault protection team of the Mars Perseverance Rover.

He gave the students a unique look into the Mars 2020 mission and the difficulties that come with reaching the stars.

A Difficult Journey

Space travel has come very far since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first stepped on the moon more than half a century ago. Since then, there have been multiple active missions on and around Mars, the most recent of which was the 2020 Mars mission. 

Sending something to Mars is a costly endeavor with many difficulties. Dr. Opperman shared with the students one of these difficulties, which has been dubbed the “Seven Minutes of Terror.” He shared a video explaining that it takes seven minutes for a spacecraft to reach the surface of Mars from the atmosphere—but it takes fourteen minutes for the signal to reach Earth. Therefore, by the time NASA learns the craft has entered the atmosphere, seven minutes have already passed since it did so. By that time, the spacecraft has either landed or crashed. The spacecraft’s computer must land it itself, and there is zero margin for error. Even with all the advances we’ve made in space travel to date, missions to Mars have only a forty percent success rate.

Perseverance and Ingenuity

Dr. Opperman then gave the students a look at the Perseverance Rover and what it can do. Perseverance’s main job is to collect samples of rock that will be retrieved during a later mission. These samples will be collected in the hopes of finding signs of ancient microbial life, though Dr. Opperman doubts they will find any life on Mars. 

But Perseverance didn’t come alone—the Ingenuity helicopter also arrived with it. Being the first aerial vehicle ever deployed on another planet, its purpose was to prove that flight was possible on Mars. Requiring special design considerations due to Mars’ thin atmosphere and lighter gravity, it has made eighteen successful flights. Having fulfilled its primary function, it now helps the rover determine where to go to locate the best soil samples. 

The bulk of the mission’s 2.7-billion-dollar cost was put into testing and development. Dr. Opperman explained how crucial it is that nothing breaks down that the rover can’t repair by itself. His primary job was to strategically introduce faults to the rover’s systems and predict the outcome of the fault, taking note of any anomalies, to ensure that nothing would break in an unexpected and irreparable way during the mission. The Mars 2020 mission was a milestone for the Mars expeditionary effort.

Man on Mars

Dr. Opperman explained that NASA and private ventures such as SpaceX are very serious in their endeavors to send man to Mars. But before man can go to Mars, he must go back to the moon. NASA’s Artemis program aims to put astronauts back on the moon by 2025. Technologies are being developed in the hopes of establishing a permanent, sustained presence on the moon. This needs to be done in order to properly develop, test, and refine technologies that will be used to get to Mars. It’s an exciting time for space exploration!

Mortality, the Universe, and the Future

Our fragile human bodies were not really made to go to space. There are many side effects to such an experience, ranging from muscle atrophy and bone loss due to the weightlessness of zero gravity to neurodegenerative disease from cosmic radiation. And despite all our efforts, mankind has barely scratched the surface of the vast universe the Creator made by merely speaking a word. Dr. Opperman shared another video visualizing the massive scale of this universe. Even now, the universe is still expanding, spreading so fast that there are galaxies we will never see because they slip away too quickly for their light to reach us. Yet Psalm 147:4-5 tells us that God knows every star by name—something our human minds cannot hope to comprehend.Dr. Opperman ended the forum by referring the students to 1 Corinthians 2:9, explaining that we have only a small sense of what’s in store. One day, we will no longer be limited by our mortal flesh, and the vast, unexplored universe will be fully open to us.  

Assembly Summary: God Has a Purpose

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour opened his lecture to the students by talking about how our lives are similar to the sand passing through an hourglass.

He stressed that time is moving quickly and that we, as younger people, need to learn from older people. The reason for this, he said, “is that information is not knowledge—experience is.” We were advised to keep in mind that, though we will make mistakes before and after baptism, God has a purpose for us; He is bringing many sons and daughters into glory.

Biblical Examples

Mr. Bonjour spoke briefly about three individuals of the Bible with whom God worked despite the terrible mistakes they made. He spoke of the Apostle Paul, who persecuted the Church before Christ called him. He hated those of “the Way,” and they feared him in turn. However, after Paul was converted, the attitude of the Church toward him changed, and they eventually loved him. 

Mr. Bonjour also mentioned Moses, who killed an Egyptian for the sake of his Hebrew brethren—an action that was not pleasing to God. Yet God did not stop working with Moses, because He had a purpose for him. The final individual Mr. Bonjour referenced was David, who committed adultery and killed a woman’s husband—yet God called him a “man after My own heart,” and He will resurrect King David to rule over Israel in God’s Kingdom.

Mr. Bonjour mentioned that, despite God’s clear instruction that kings were not to have many wives, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Some of these marriages, perhaps most of them, were political in nature. As one reads through Proverbs, one notices that Solomon wrote about problems with contentious women, and Mr. Bonjour made the point that Solomon probably wrote these proverbs based on experiences that he’d had with his wives. He also made the point that even though many believe that Solomon may not be in the first resurrection, we do not know this for a fact, and we even see evidence of Solomon’s repentance as we read through the book of Ecclesiastes. 

It’s How We Finish

Mr. Bonjour closed his lecture by reminding the students that while we may be waiting to see what God does in our lives before we make certain decisions, God may also be wanting us to make a move. God can work with us to shape the decisions that we make, even after we make them. Of course, this is not to say that we do not need to exercise wisdom or that we should not ask for God’s help in making decisions. Nevertheless, God will allow us to learn from our experiences, and even when we make mistakes, God will forgive us once we repent, even if He does not remove the consequences of those mistakes. God had a purpose for each of the biblical figures we read about, and God has a purpose for us all. It is not how we start that is important, Mr. Bonjour said, but how we finish that matters.