Assembly Notes: The CCC’s of Editorial

“God doesn’t expect anything of you that He will not give you the support to be able to accomplish.” – Mr. Wallace Smith

“Content, Clarity, Credibility, Consistency, Creativity, and Care” – simply put, these six C’s represent, in a nutshell, the responsibilities of the Living Church of God Editorial Department. Everyone involved in the department must bear the weight of these responsibilities, and all that they imply.

Mr. Wallace Smith, and student worker Thomas White

One of the things that struck me from Mr. Smith’s assembly, is how much everyone must rely upon one another in order to achieve their goals as a department, and as part of the work of God. No person who writes an article, or who prepares a telecast, or who composes a new booklet is exempt from needing support, or reassessment from others during the process. It seems that in God’s work He readily provides the necessary support, and valuable prospective from others for the preparation and publication of content.

 “I’ve experienced the blessings of having someone who it’s their job to take a look…just to make sure we’re not missing something”

Clarity resides as an essential component in the creation of content for publication. As Mr. Smith described, in the work of God, we aim to communicate a very specific message to a wide variety of audiences. In this endeavor, we must do our upmost to prepare the message in such a way that others will comprehend it. As Mr. Smith explained, “sometimes what we say isn’t what other people hear.” Again, this must be why the organized review process in Editorial is so essential for the operation of the department. Editorial must take seriously their responsibility to proclaim the message, without making an “uncertain sound” (1 Corinthians 14:8).

 

“We just want to make sure things are correct…all of us, we need that kind of review.”

The Apostle Paul did seemingly everything humanly possible to be sure the message he preached was credible. He did not want to put burdens in people’s way, striving to make sure what he preached was acceptable to his audience without changing the content of the message itself. In the same way, the Editorial department takes seriously the need for “Logos, Pathos, and Ethos” in all their writing and publication. This includes making sure that sources used are accurate, and credible, and that presentation is professional.

Of course, this aspect cannot be achieved without review, and constructive feedback from others. Just like in every other part of the work, the Editorial department relies on teamwork, mutual effort, and unity to accomplish their goals and responsibilities. Do we recognize the necessity of correction, review, and encouragement in our own lives? What a wonderful blessing that God has set up a structure of support for His people as we strive to do His great work!

Living Education-Charlotte 2019-20

We are now accepting applications for the 2019–2020 “Living Education Charlotte” program. Seven young men and seven young women will be accepted, as we begin the second year. This is a focused experience, emphasizing the building blocks of a Godly, Christian life. Students learn in the classroom with other young adults, guided by our faculty. They also learn through our “Work-Study” program, working alongside Headquarters staff in various capacities. A major part of the experience is the interaction with other students as they study together, work together, and socialize together, building friendships that will last a lifetime. If you are a young adult, at least 18 years of age, and have a passion to learn more about God’s way of life with others who share the same goals and values, then apply now. For more information, go to lcgeducation.org.

Assembly Notes: Behind the Telecast

“Preaching the gospel is always integral to what Jesus is doing. We are supposed to follow Him…obey Him, follow His example as a church.”

 

The work of God today may functionally look much different than it did during the time of Christ and the apostles, yet fundamentally the commission is the same, principally to preach the gospel of the Kingdom and the true name of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ day, the message had to be delivered by foot, letters, and word of mouth. Instead of airplanes for travel, satellite communication, and high-speed internet, they had wooden ships, strong speaking voices, and parchment. Mr. Ciesielka began his assembly by emphasizing that since the commencement of the work during the time of Christ, God’s commission and the responsibility of the church continues on. As I reflect on it, it is easy to see that even with the passing of time and the changes in technology, the focus of the church remains consistent. If one considers Christ’s sermons, speeches, and parables to have been the “front line” of preaching the gospel in His day, then the Tomorrow’s World telecast would be on the “front line” of preaching the gospel in our day.

“Throughout the gospel accounts He [Christ] is preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God…that’s the pattern the Church has…that’s the focus.”

Mr. Wyatt Ciesielka and Travis Pate

Mr. Ciesielka, head of the TV and Internet departments at LCG headquarters, gave us an overview of the part that the telecast plays in God’s work. He described the process of creating, and releasing the telecast, and the responsibilities of those involved with its production. The creation of each new telecast involves much more than simple recording and editing. Beyond preparing several versions and formats of the telecast for traditional TV stations with appropriate phone numbers and contact information for different regions of the country, the TV department’s responsibilities include preparing versions of each telecast in multiple languages (Spanish, Russian, Ukranian, German…etc), perfecting closed captioning in accordance with strict government regulation, providing updated audits of all inventory, managing copyright material and information, managing call centers, and the list goes on.

“The telecast is the most powerful thing we produce as far as reaching new people.”

Telly Awards for the Tomorrow’s World Telecast

In the assembly, and tour of the Tomorrow’s World building and studio, I was surprised to learn that with each new telecast, approximately thirty different versions must be produced. This is what makes it possible to be reached by so many people, as the telecast is presented not only on cable TV stations in the United States, but also on many different websites, Roku, foreign language stations, and other media platforms. It is exciting to think about the amazing potential that the telecast has for reaching people all around the world, and to observe how God continues to bless the work that the gospel of the Kingdom of God may truly reach all nations.

Video Editor’s office

Assembly Notes: You have a choice – to ask the right question!

“We have choices to make. We can’t avoid it! Various things shape the choices we make. There are fundamental choices that we make, that we need to make, that we need to understand the foundation of.” – Mr. Peter Nathan

Consider this question: How do we live the good life?

Many intelligent thinkers have considered this very basic question, and have arrived at nearly as many conclusions as there are people who have attempted to answer it. But what if this isn’t even the right question? What could be wrong with striving to know how to live a good life? Could there be a flaw in the very question itself? If so, what is it?

In thinking of life as a journey, we so often hear about choosing between two ways – “the way of give” versus “the way of get”, the path that leads to life opposing the path that leads to destruction, or the narrow, difficult road contrasting the broad, easy road. But what if the choice is between the path of Philosophy, and the Biblical path? How could those be opposing paths? From the surface, they hardly seem opposite. It’s fascinating to consider that, whether aware of it or not, we choose between one or the other in the very foundation of our beliefs, and decisions we make in our lives. Mr. Nathan described to us the meaning of these two paths, and the repercussions of choosing one or the other. He described that that “path of philosophy” derives itself from rational, human reasoning.

“We end up, as a result of Philosophy, with a closed universe – God has no place in it, because you see, you can’t measure it. The spiritual world is not subject to rational measurement, thought, evaluation…etc…That’s the world of every bit of education you have received…everything you learned at school was based on this column [the path of philosophy]”

On the other hand, the “Biblical path” forms from Divine revelation, which requires faith to accept. As Mr. Nathan described, the question that we should be answering is not, “How do human beings live a good life?” but rather, “How does God want me to live?”.  So what do these two ways of life look like in a practical sense? Mr. Nathan described the two paths in terms of your life represented by a target. In the path of philosophy (closed universe), “self” lies at the center, whereas in the Biblical way, God is the center and everything else falls around it. (Check out Mr. Nathan’s chart to get a better sense of the analogy)

“The way of Philosophy is the desire to live a good life, but what does the Bible demand of us?…Rather than me seeking something, to make my life feel good…God wants us to seek Him to answer how we should live.”

It’s funny to think that sometimes when we are looking for the answer to something, we may find we are asking the wrong question. From what I learned from Mr. Nathan, the choice comes in answering, and acting upon the right question. This gives me pause to consider: When making a choice, am I asking the right question?

Assembly Notes: Be Thankful and Get Ready for Trials!

“Now that Thanksgiving is coming you should meditate on those things: “How much do I appreciate the amazing privilege to be in the church of God?”  – Mr. Hernandez

In assembly this week, the mention of Thanksgiving by Mr. Hernandez got me thinking. We certainly have much to be thankful for. God continuously pours out many physical blessings on us in great abundance. Our warm, cozy homes that shield us from the elements, our tanks of gas that continue to be filled, and our tables that never go empty, offer small illustrations of these blessings. However, Mr. Hernandez challenged the students to look beyond the physical blessings, and be grateful for the opportunity to be called to be a part of the Church of the Most High God and to receive the knowledge of truth.  It truly is an amazing privilege! But Mr. Hernandez gave us more to consider…

“God is going to test you. Be absolutely sure of that…The thing is that you have received much, and God is going to see, ‘What are you going to do with everything you have received?’”

Mr. Hernandez pointed to Luke 12:48 which states: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required…”. When I think about all the blessings I have received from God in my own life, and the gifts He continues to give, I often think about this verse. It brings to mind the responsibilities that come with the blessings, as well as the tests and trials. Mr. Hernandez pointed out that this does not mean we should be afraid, rather by knowing that we will undoubtedly be tested we can better prepare for it.  So how do we prepare for trials? How can you be sure you will pass the test?

“If you neglect your relationship with God – day by day prayer and take enough time to [do] it…If you neglect that…you get straight A’s in all the classes but you are not developing your relationship with Jesus Christ and His Father, it will not be enough. That’s the foundation, and He will help you succeed if you have the right order of priorities”

First things first, Mr. Hernandez advised the students to establish their priorities. I take this to mean that we must know what matters most to us and we must decide how those things should impact our lives from day to day. Mr. Hernandez told the students “You must develop your relationship with God”, making time to fulfill your priestly responsibilities to offer the morning and evening sacrifices (our prayers in the spiritual sense).  I took note of Mr. Hernandez’s warning: “You are going to face a world that is rotting very quickly, and if that relationship with God is not built upon the Rock that is Jesus Christ, you are not going to stand.” His comments give me pause to consider: Is my relationship with God strong enough to endure any trial that comes my way? I am reminded again of Thanksgiving, to be grateful for the things God gives to us, but also for the trials and tests. As Mr. Hernandez reminded us, “God will test you so He can bless you even more”. So, how can we be thankful AND ready for the next test?

Assembly Notes: Too Busy for the Bible?

“Many Teenagers are recognizing that the Bible speaks to the complete human experience. No matter what age of human history you live in it speaks to their struggles, trials, and triumphs of life.”

In assembly this week, Mr. Frank read us a quote from a Barna Research study. According to Barna the number one reason for a decline in Bible reading among teens today is that “they are too busy with life’s responsibilities” to regularly read their Bible (“Over-Scheduled Teens”, Christian News Wire). This simple fact got me thinking. Are my Bible reading habits affected by the busyness of life? Do I prioritize “life’s responsibilities” over daily Bible study? Am I too busy to read the Bible?

“53% of teens say they wish they read the Bible more…sometimes they are stumped just to know how to go about doing that.”

Mr. Frank also read us a quote published by Christian News Wire regarding the dilemma for teens in Bible study: “As America’s teens head back to school and the lazy days of summer officially come to a close, new research released today suggests that the Bible reading suffers from teens when teens lead busy, overscheduled lives” (“Over-Scheduled Teens”). There is no doubt that in today’s world we live fast-paced, often hectically scheduled lives. The obligations of school, work, events, and activities quickly fill our days from morning to evening. But how do we make sure all the activities, and clutter of life does not overrun our time to drink in of God’s word?

“Read and Study the Bible in a regular, structured, planned method”

One Mr. Frank’s tips for Bible study suggests part of a practical solution. He told us to take advantage of any “down-time” we may have to do some deep Bible study. Truthfully, when I have a bit of unscheduled time I don’t always think of getting out my Bible first. But as I consider it, as Christians we should have God’s word at the forefront of our minds, and what better way to make productive use of our time then to spend it with God? So, in reflection of Mr. Frank’s comments, how can we make sure we aren’t “too busy to read the Bible”?

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Want some tips for productive Bible Study? Check out Mr. Frank’s five methods of studying the Bible that he suggests to dig into God’s word!

  1. Read the Bible through – From cover to cover! Try Mr. Frank’s Bible Reading Plan to get started!
  2. Book Study – Discover the context! Ask: Who wrote it? To whom was it written? When was it written? Why was it written? Where do the events take place? Where was it written? What is the style?…etc
  3. Chapter Study – Understand the context, and study it verse by verse! (Try Heb. 11; 1 Cor. 13; Ps. 23; Eph. 6)
  4. Biographical study – Choose a character!
  5. Topical study – Grab a concordance! Or, try a Topical Bible

The Historic Town of Charleston

Living Education-Charlotte students had an exciting and educational trip to Charleston this past weekend (October 27-28 2018). On our way to Charleston, we visited the Walterboro Congregation in South Carolina where we were welcomed by Mr. Whitaker (a Pastor) and the brethren. Inspired by the sermonette and sermon, we spent time after church service fellowshipping and enjoying a delicious meal prepared by the Walterboro congregation with a southern hospitality.

Sunday morning (7:30 AM) we left for Charleston. Arriving at the National Park Service, we went aboard the “Carolina Belle” boat tour to Fort Sumter. As we crossed the chilly and breezy Charleston harbor, the boat captain explained to us the rich history of the Charleston observatories and other points of interest in the surrounding area. When we arrived at Fort Sumter, many of us were privileged to participate in the raising of the flag on the Fort. We also were able to view many canons and weapons of war which had been used at the fort during the Civil War. Our tour concluded with an orienteering game in which we participated as we walked through the beautiful and historic town of Charleston discovering landmark buildings.

Assembly Notes: A Story About Work

“When you’re working hard and productive you’re happy.” – Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour

The Mail Processing Department here at headquarters is a bit like the front lines. Walking into MPD, the smell of fresh paper immediately pervades the senses, as the sight of stacks of crisp new envelopes to be stuffed, the whir of the printer putting addresses onto new cards for the semi-annual or for some other letter or offer, and the mechanical clicking of “Millie” (the envelope stuffer) give the feeling of a busy and productive environment. More than that, there is a certain passionate focus and warmth which brings a certain awareness that here, God’s work continues on. MPD is the last stop for every piece of mail sent out to the world, a fact which requires serious dedication and unity in spirit to do the job properly (as is required of all those who are a part of the work of God).

“There is profit in all labor.”

As Mr. Bonjour emphasized, when a person diligently applies himself to his work, there is a certain peace of mind and sense of accomplishment which comes by no other means. Proverbs talks about diligence as being “a man’s precious possession” (12:27) and the man who has it will be blessed (10:4). Doing the work of God requires diligence, and hard work, and there is no exception for the Mail Processing Department. In the words of Darren Brinson, one of the team-members in MPD, “We get to be physical and active, we get to see the names of people subscribing, to interact with members across the world, its cool to be in a facet that touches so many different areas.” Understanding the importance of being diligent in the work, Darren adds: “Whatever area you find yourself in, whether it’s working at headquarters, or being in the field, or a donor, or whatever, there is something important in it, as long as you are a part of it, and have your heart in it.”

“We work together as a team no matter what.”

Those in MPD seem to understand the necessity for teamwork. Many of the tasks in the department have overlap between members of the team. All the members have a function, but they cannot accomplish what they are meant to do without the help of all the other members. “We are in this together,” speaks Donald Matherly on the importance of teamwork, “We have to be able to help one another, and pull other members up.” The body of Christ works in a similar way, as every part of the body has a purpose and a function, yet cannot exist separately from the other parts. God gives different members of the body various roles and talents “…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13). God is creating a family, perfecting and molding every piece to perfectly fit together for the fulfillment of His great purpose.

Assembly Notes: What does water skiing have to do with following God?

“Following God is like water skiing” – Mr. Phil Sena

If you have ever been water skiing, you understand the exhilarating feeling of being pulled up out the cold water from the abrupt, powerful tug of the speeding boat ahead of you.

With the spray from the wake hitting your face, the wind whipping against your legs, every muscle tightens to brace against the choppy water under your skis. You feel the urge to pull your arms back against the rope, but knowing that if you try to pull, you will fall, you lock your arms and tighten your already burning grip on the rope handle. You begin to settle into the pace, finding an even balance on the skis, using your knees as shock absorbers to the chop, when without warning, the boat suddenly turns, sending you flying out toward the rough edges of the wake. White knuckled, you allow the boat to pull you over the jagged water, and just when you think you might fall, you are outside the wake, skis skimming smoothly across the calm water. Celebrating this small victory, you relax your grip slightly, perhaps even let go with one hand to wave at the spotter. You would love to stay outside of the wave forever, but inevitably you will have to go back across the choppy water. You once again grasp the rope firmly with both hands to prepare for the quick turn of the boat, which sends you flying across the whitecaps to the other side of the wake.

“Keep your knees bent…be ready for anything, expect the unexpected”

When you ski, you must always keep your knees bent. It helps you absorb the shock of bouncing over the chop. As the water behind the boat is not smooth, similarly life is not always smooth sailing. In life you must learn to take things in stride, and be ready for anything that may come your way. Keeping your knees bent keeps you balanced, and in life being prepared for the unexpected does as well.

“Keep your hands on the rope…Stay tied to God”

The most fundamental way to stay above the water when skiing is to never let go of the rope. In life we can never let go of our relationship with God. We must hold on to Him tightly, for He is our lifeline. He is the One who leads us through the trials and tests that come in life, for if we let go, we will fall. When you are about to cross the wake while skiing, you must tighten your grip to make it across safely. Similarly, when experiencing a difficult trial in life, we must draw closer to God and He will see us through (2 Peter 2:9). As Mr. Phil Sena told the students in assembly, “Stay tied to God, and He will take you through anything that you go through in life.”

*Photos from the Living Youth Program, TX Teen Camp, 2017

Assembly Notes: Serving Connections

 

“When we are members of the God-family, and there are millions and billions of us, we will have connections with certain people because of the relationships we started in this life.” – Dr. Scott

Dr. Scott Winnail told us in this week’s assembly, “Look for opportunities to serve in the local congregation.” No matter the size of our congregation, taking the time to get to know the brethren, to learn what is going on in their lives, we will better understand their needs, thus shining light on the ways in which we can serve them. Serving others can be as simple as mowing an elderly person’s lawn, or reaching out to speak with someone new after services. We can begin to build relationships with each other through even seemingly insignificant actions of service.

“Some of the neatest relationships I’ve had with brethren have actually been made far better by visiting them in hospitals” – Dr. Scott

A man in the local Charlotte congregation was hospitalized several years ago after breaking his back. Dr. Scott made an effort to visit several times while the man was in the hospital. “Our relationship grew from that point,” Dr. Scott expressed thoughtfully, sharing that the connection he had made in those visits lead to the man coming to visit him and his family at home, going out together for dinners, assisting with projects at the man’s home, and even opening the doors for students from Living University to help him out in a variety of ways. While visiting someone in a hospital might seem like a small thing, one simple action with a heart of service can make a lasting impact.

“The relationships we build today…are relationships that will continue forward for eternity. So the friendships we begin to make, at this point in our lives, we’re going to have forever to build on, but starting them is really important.” – Dr. Scott

Dr. Scott reminded those of us attending the assembly that the connections we build today, sometimes through serving, have the potential to last forever. What are some simple ways we can reach out to others in our congregation to build lasting relationships?