Assembly Summary: The Body and its Functions

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


Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

Mr. Jerry Ruddlesden opened his lecture to the students with the following questions: What comes to mind when you think about the Church? What do we do as a Church? How does that relate to those of us at Headquarters or in the local congregations?

Mr. Ruddlesden defines the Church as a body of believers from all from different walks of life who have a specific job to do. Matthew 28:18–20 describes the commission that the Church is given by Jesus Christ: We are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations. We all have different functions that are needed in the Church, as illustrated in 1 Corinthians 12:1–23. 

Behind the Scenes

Mr. Ruddlesden went on to describe some of the ways in which the Church accomplishes this mission. One example would be locating and negotiating with facilities at which to keep weekly services, Feast of Tabernacles services, or even Living Youth Programs. The Church has a financial audit that is done yearly, which shows the number of programs and facilities that it sponsors. For all of this to happen, the Church must have a number of people behind the scenes who come together to help the Work continue to move forward.

Another example would be putting the telecast together. A telecast presenter will write his script and have the Editorial Department review it. Afterward, the Media Department will review it and begin to think about corresponding graphics. The media team must get ready for shooting, which involves putting makeup on the presenters, setting up the cameras and sound system, and a lot more. The Church will also need to buy a slot on a TV station in order to air that telecast.

Every member counts

Mr. Ruddlesden made the point that even though the Church is one body, there are many different parts of that body. Some parts of the human body do not get mentioned too often, but that does not diminish their roles. The same is true for the Church of God—there are many people performing functions behind the scenes in order to get the Gospel preached to the world. Of course, we also acknowledge the faithful members who pay their tithes and offerings consistently. Without them, it would be very difficult to get the Work done. Christ has given us big things to do, and through His spirit and power, the Work will continue until He returns.

Forum Summary: The Purpose of Design

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


Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

For his assembly, Mr. John Robinson, Managing Editor of the Living Church of God’s printed publications, dove into the purpose of graphic design.

When an audience is reading something in print, such as an article or a magazine, the graphic design must clearly communicate the purpose, thought, and intent of the content it highlights. Mr. Robinson emphasized that the design matters much more than we might think it does. 

How a Tomorrow’s World Article is Designed

When a Tomorrow’s World article is first submitted for Editorial review, it is referred to as “raw” before it goes through its first edits. It is edited to ensure its spelling is correct, that punctuation marks are where they need to be, and that it matches the Editorial style of Tomorrow’s World. Once it passes this stage, it reaches the next, more involved stage of editing. This ensures that what the author wants to say makes sense and comes out clearly to the reader. However, quite a bit of effort goes into making sure that the article still retains the “voice” of its author. Once the article is edited, it moves to the next stage, which deals with finding a layout design that works with it. 

“Design can make or break what you are trying to communicate,” Mr. Robinson said. The design needs to be clear enough for the reader to understand what is being communicated. Having a design that uses too many bright colors or too many images may make the article harder to read. He demonstrated that even if an article is well written, the overall content can become poor if the design is subpar. Design includes using fonts that catch the eyes of readers. It also includes the use of color that works with the background and not against it. 

Once Mr. Robinson completes the layout of an issue of Tomorrow’s World Magazine, he sends it to overseas offices for translation into other languages. The articles also go through search engine optimization to make sure they are titled based on what people are searching for. For example, the booklet Your Ultimate Destiny was renamed What Is the Meaning of Life? based on what people are searching for. 

God Designs Our Lives

Mr. Robinson also encouraged us to remember that regardless of where we are in life, we should not feel as if we are stuck there, because God is probably preparing us for something else later. God has a master plan for us and will guide our experiences to prepare us for what He needs us to do. Throughout the Bible we see example after example of God preparing His servants before giving them the job He has in mind for them. 

Mr. Robinson assured us that though we might not always find ourselves exactly where we think we should be in terms of our career, we will find as we go through life that the experiences we have gained, even during the times when we felt stuck, will be beneficial as God reveals the roles He intends for us.

Forum Summary: Consider Your Time

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


Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

At the end of the first semester of Living Education, Mr. Gerald E Weston asked the LivingEd students a question: “How did you use your time this semester?”

It seems time is always in short supply, but it is important that we consider how we use our time, for time is our life. For the final forum of the semester, Mr. Weston addressed the fleeting nature of time and challenged the students to use their time wisely.

Time is fleeting

Mr. Weston began by telling the students that there is only so much time given to us, and the older we get, the faster it seems to go by. Productive use of our time will lead us to success, while poor use of it will lead to emptiness. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:10 that we should be “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Is what we’re doing acceptable to God? Or even in physical terms, acceptable in leading a successful life? It’s important that we think about life and where we’re heading because before we know it, we’ll be asking ourselves, “Where have all the years gone?”

How do we use our time?

Mr. Weston then said, “Wisdom is often simple in nature, but it’s not easy to practice.” It can be hard to manage our time wisely, especially with all the distractions the world provides. Bad habits can develop that become increasingly hard to change the longer they are practiced. Habits determine what we do in the future; our choices today affect our choices tomorrow. Most set their goal in life to have as much fun as possible. To them, a happy life is a fun life. But if we look at King Solomon’s life recorded in Ecclesiastes, we can see that fun does not lead to lasting fulfillment or happiness. 

Life is made of choices, and in Deuteronomy 30:19 we see that making the right choices lead to blessings and life, and the wrong choices lead to curses and ultimately death. Similarly, how we use our time can give us either a life of fulfillment or a life of emptiness. For instance, we can waste a few hours watching television or playing video games, but will we really feel fulfilled afterward? Even in times of leisure, Mr. Weston encouraged the students to consider what they do to relax. Do we watch TV or read a book? Do we play video games or spend time with our family and friends?

The Proverbs promote diligence and condemn laziness. In much of the western world—especially the US—we see a golden opportunity. Anyone can get ahead if they are willing to work for it and the job market has never been better. However, it takes time to find success. There is no quick and easy route to a fulfilling life.

In closing, Mr. Weston asked the students to consider how they spent their time this semester, and more importantly, what will they do with the time ahead of them? Developing good habits now, thinking about where our time goes, being circumspect, and making good choices with our time will lead to lasting success, both spiritually and physically.

Forum Summary: A Brief History of the Predestination Doctrine

 

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


Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

John Calvin, an important figure in the Protestant Reformation, preached, “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation.” This teaching is known as the doctrine of predestination. It was first philosophized by Augustine of Hippo, who is considered the “greatest of the Catholic Fathers” and one of the four doctors of Catholic theology. For this recent Living Education forum, Mr. Wyatt Ciesielka gave the students a brief history of this false doctrine and examined what the Bible says on the matter.

What is Predestination?

Put simply, predestination is the teaching that one’s destiny is set in stone; one is either born to be saved or born to be condemned. It was originally taught by Augustine and later found use in Protestant theology by John Calvin and Martin Luther. However, nowhere does the Bible say that God predetermines some to salvation and some to condemnation. The father of this doctrine, Augustine, converted from Manichaeism—a dead religion similar to Zoroastrianism—and carried the doctrines of the immortal soul and predestination with him. John Calvin adopted this idea and expanded it, teaching that Adam was created good, but after Adam and Eve sinned, their souls were so corrupted that they were incapable of doing any good whatsoever, apart from God’s saving grace. 

One can see where issues arise with this belief—if we can’t do good, then why even try? That is precisely the conclusion many religious thinkers come to, believing that as long as someone loves Jesus, they are saved. Some go even further, as Martin Luther did, in believing that God created some souls predestined to be saved, but created others in a state of “reprobation.” Luther wrote, “Hence, God is the cause why men sin and are condemned,” falsely teaching that many are predestined to eternal hellfire.

What Does the Bible Actually Say about Predestination?

The Bible does address predestination—however, it’s not what many religions teach it to be. In Romans 8:29–30, we read, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Here we can see that predestination has to do with being pre-called, not pre-judged!

God is fair, and He will give everyone an opportunity to choose Him. The predestination mentioned in the Bible simply determines when that opportunity will present itself.

God chooses to give us special knowledge as to where our deceased loved ones are and the future that awaits us if we keep His laws. We have an understanding of the Last Great Day, which pictures the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. However, those practicing mainstream Christianity do not have this knowledge, and many have been terrified as a result of ignorance. They don’t know whether their deceased family members are in heaven or hell, and this false understanding of predestination only makes it worse. Yet their time to understand will come. We have been blessed to be among those called to be potential firstfruits of God’s Family. However, that doesn’t mean we are guaranteed entrance into His Kingdom—for that, we have to do our part to develop God’s character within ourselves through His Holy Spirit. As 2 Peter 1:10 reminds us, we must “be even more diligent to make your call and election sure.”

Assembly Summary: “The Privileged Planet”

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


Estimated Reading Time: 2 min. 30 sec.

In his recent lecture, Mr. Richard Ames referred to the forum lecture he gave about the mystery of life.

He briefly reminded us that life is complex and reiterated some of the designs that are present in life. Mr. Ames then referenced Mr. Dexter Wakefield’s recent split sermon about God working with little things as well as big things. God can work with the smallest of cells, giving it all the machinery it needs to function. He also made big things like the universe, which has trillions of galaxies. Mr. Ames presented the documentary The Privileged Planet, along with his recommendation of the book of the same name by Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez.

Privileged or not?

Mr. Ames contrasted the documentary with atheist Carl Sagan’s belief that we are not privileged. Mr. Sagan is under the impression that our planet is just one blue dot in the vast trillions of galaxies and there is nothing special about the earth or about mankind. Yet The Privileged Planet shows that while we are a small blue dot in the vastness of the universe, there are many things that make the earth special. The earth is the perfect distance away from the sun to facilitate liquid water. If the earth was five percent closer to the sun, it would suffer the same fate as Venus, with high temperatures rising to nearly 900°F. If the earth was 20 percent farther away from the sun, carbon dioxide would form in the atmosphere, initiating the same type of ice and cold that is found on Mars.

Amazing features of our planet

The earth’s crust varies in thickness from 30–40 miles. This helps to regulate the planet’s interior temperature and shape the continents, among other things. This is one of the features needed for life to exist on earth. Human life requires a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere (78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and 1 percent carbon dioxide). The atmosphere ensures a temperate climate, protection from the sun’s radiation, and the correct combination of gasses necessary for liquid water and life.

The blessing of Earth

There are many more intricacies that make the earth a habitable place—no other planet has the specific and essential attributes that ours has. For this reason, we see that Earth is indeed a privileged planet. God created the earth specifically for life to dwell on it. He has not created other planets with this type of specification—perhaps because He is waiting for His sons to take care of that. Whatever His plan is for the universe, we are truly blessed and must be grateful to live on the privileged planet.

Forum Summary: The Witness of Miracles

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


Estimated Reading Time: 2 min. 30 sec.

“What is a miracle? How would you describe it?”

Mr. Dan Hall asked this question to start this week’s forum. A miracle is an act of intervention by God Himself. He performs these miracles to direct His purposes, show His mighty power, and show that He is with us. They provide a powerful witness that can strengthen our faith; however, we must be careful to not forget the witness these miracles provide.

Remember Miracles

Let’s look back at the example of Israel when they first arrived at the Promised Land. After all the things they’d seen—the plagues, the manna, the events at Mount Sinai—why did they not enter the land in faith that God would take care of them? Because they only focused on the challenge ahead, forgetting about the miracles that had come before. 

As one of the many parallels between the journey of Israel and our own spiritual journey, this serves to show that we, too, can make it all the way to the finish line, but still be unable to cross because of a lack of faith. However, we can guard against this mistake by remembering the miracles God has performed in our lives. We are even instructed in Deuteronomy 4:9 to teach our children and grandchildren about these amazing interventions.

A Cloud of Witnesses, Ancient and Modern

The Bible is filled with witnesses to God’s power and care for His people. Daniel, David, Moses, Abraham, and many others experienced miracle after miracle in accordance with God’s plan. Israel’s development as a nation is a miracle in and of itself. However, these stories from millennia ago are not the only witnesses we have to God’s power. 

Mr. Armstrong records many miraculous occurrences in his autobiography, but even more recently, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have experienced miracles in their own lives. Mr. Hall recounted several instances in which he had seen these interventions take place: a severely crippled man made able to walk again, a woman completely healed from a terrible cancer, and even a baby brought back from the brink of death, to name a few. God is with us—but with all that life throws at us, it can be difficult to stay focused on that. Yet God will help us see His hand in our lives if we only ask.

The Bible contains many stories of miraculous blessings, healings, and protection. And in God’s Church, there are many miracles still taking place. Despite the challenges we face in this life, we need to remember God’s promises and the miracles we have both seen in others’ lives and experienced in our own. They affirm God’s love for us, provide a powerful testament to His power, and can greatly help us as we strive to keep the faith, so long as we never forget!

Assembly Summary: Instant vs. Delayed Gratification

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


Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

“We live in a world of instant gratification,” said Dr. Scott Winnail in his recent Assembly lecture.

He mentioned that we are conditioned to expect that things will get done instantly in our world today. How often do we use the credit card? How much pressure do we feel to make big decisions on the spur of the moment? 

Dr. Winnail went on to examine what the Scriptures say about acting on a whim instead of planning ahead and weighing our decisions. Proverbs 4:26 challenges us to think deeply about the course we are taking, and thinking deeply about something takes time. Luke 14:27–28 shows that wise people consider whether they have the resources to finish what they might start. In Proverbs 6:6–8, the message from the ants is that we must consider our future and plan ahead.

God generally favors delayed gratification, wanting us to lay solid foundations to get us where we need to be in the future. However, instant gratification is not always a bad thing; it can be positive, such as when we suddenly decide to invite a friend out for lunch. Spontaneity can be fun from time to time; the trouble comes when we live life spontaneously.

Taking Time to Grow

With God’s help, we can develop habits of delayed gratification and break habits of instant gratification. Delayed gratification requires time to grow. We even see this in our Christian walk—when we get baptized, we don’t change into spirit beings right away. We are given time to develop and to show God whether we want to live His way of life. 

Delayed gratification teaches the principle of endurance. We practice one example of this when we save our second tithe diligently. The Feast of Tabernacles is still eleven months away, yet we’re already saving our second tithe, because we understand the joys of keeping the Feast and knowing that we have kept God’s commands.

Putting It into Practice

As we practice delayed gratification, we can ask ourselves questions like,Do I really need this? Do I need this now? If I do this, what will it prevent me from having in the future?” One practical way we can practice delayed gratification is not answering the phone immediately or responding to texts right away. Always immediately answering our phones places more stress on us and causes people to expect an immediate answer all the time. It’s also helpful to refrain from making big purchases until we have taken 24–48 hours to think over the decision; time can change our perspective.

We live in a world of instant gratification, where we are pressured to react quickly, without much thought and consideration. While snap decisions can be fun in the short term, they can cost us money and future opportunities. The students were admonished to take the time to teach their future children and grandchildren the wisdom of delayed gratification. Those who possess the character to delay gratification are often happier and more successful in life. They are more likely to hold fast to God’s truth—which means they are more likely to enter the Kingdom of God.

Student Life: A day at the “Ren Fair”

Author: Caanin Fausone | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22


Estimated Reading Time: 1 min. 30 sec.

One recent weekend, the students of Living Education-Charlotte spent a beautiful autumn evening enjoying the classic revelries of the North Carolina Renaissance Festival in the quaint town of Huntersville.

This event was especially significant because it added a framework for one of the different eras they are learning about in several different LE classes this year. Many of the students dressed up as knights, ladies, and squires from this long forgotten age, blending right into the joyous atmosphere as they feasted on turkey legs, a popular delicacy of the time. 

The events offered at the festival this year were quite expansive as well. Some of the more popular activities included; knife throwing, dungeon exploration, throwing tomatoes at a rather rude court jester, and the main event of the festival, jousting. As if this was not enough, the grounds also had many merchants that boasted every manner of wares. There were beautiful courtly dresses for the ladies and shiny ironclad suits of steel for the men. And for those who were especially interested, the displays of swords, scimitars, and daggers were tantalizing artifacts to be purchased at just-so-outrageous-a-price. 

Thanks must go out to Ryan Price (a student at LE this year) who faithfully coordinated this event and whose idea it was to attend the festival in the first place. I think I speak for all those who attended in stating that it was a worthwhile experience and that despite some trepidation at the idea of trying something a little outside of their comfort zone, it was more than a little rewarding. Maybe just maybe, the next time the festival comes into town you might catch LivingEd students walking amongst their midst.  

Forum Summary: Reviewing Tomorrow’s World “Whiteboard”

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


Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

This week, in a Forum that took on a different form from that of the lecture-type sessions we normally have,

the Living Ed students had the opportunity to visit the Tomorrow’s World studio, where we started our tour in the control room. The students were given a brief overview of the different pieces of equipment and were introduced to the staff members who work with all of these devices. At that point, the students were given a chance to become part of the creative process by providing feedback about a Tomorrow’s World Whiteboard video currently in the development stage.

The Whiteboard video the students were shown was titled “How Jesus Taught His Disciples to Pray.” Once it concluded, the students were encouraged to make suggestions about how to improve it. Our comments addressed topics ranging from where in the video the Tomorrow’s World logo should appear to how often throughout the video the graphic of the hand should be shown writing what is being said. We also spent quite a bit of time discussing the various major platforms that the Church could utilize, in order to preach the Gospel to a wider variety of demographics. The students were quite eager to offer their opinions, and Mr. Michael DeSimone, Manager of the Television Department, and Mr. Jake Hall, Lead Editor for Tomorrow’s World, were just as happy to hear them.

In the end, the opportunity to review one of the Whiteboard videos provided a very interesting experience for the students. It was much appreciated by Mr. DeSimone and Mr. Hall, as they were able to receive feedback from the student body on how to improve these videos, as well as engage in some discussion regarding which platforms would be most effective for continuing to preach the Gospel. Even reviewing a video helps the Work, and it was a great opportunity for all of us.

To access all published Tomorrow’s World Whiteboard videos, check them out here on the Tomorrow’s World YouTube channel.

Assembly Summary: Activist for God

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


Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

“What I do is an answer to a prayer. I wanted a hands-on feel for what the work was really doing.”

These are some of the opening words to Mr. Lehman Lyons’ recent Assembly lecture. He summarized some of his work history, which ties in with what he does in the Living Church of God today. He has a background in business, though he started his career in a grocery store before being hired by a moving company. Once his employers found out where he was from, they offered him management of an agency forty-five miles from where he grew up in South Carolina. While there, He learned the whole spectrum of what happens in a moving company.

In 2001, the Church hired Mr. Lyons to work in purchasing. He was hired because the Church, headquartered in California at the time, was moving across the country to North Carolina. Due to his prior moving experiences, he was able to offer expertise that most members did not have, and helped the Church save massive amounts of money.

Purchasing

Mr. Lyons’ corporate title is Buyer. He is responsible for purchasing anything that the Church needs, looking for deals that will get the best quality things at a responsible price. Mr. Lyons encouraged us to pray for open doors for the Church, saying that God can bring the money into the Church and multiply it to do His Work.  

Mr. Lyons’ work often takes him outside of the Headquarters building. While most Headquarters employees mainly work with each other, Mr. Lyons’ main line of work necessitates working with people outside the Church. He expressed that, since we need to find favor in the eyes of the people with whom we do business, another thing we can pray for is “vendor favor.”

Mr. Lyons is also responsible for the fleet, which comprises the automobiles that the Church has on its property as well as the ones that it supplies the ministers in the field. The Church purchases these vehicles and handles their fuel cost and maintenance, buying automobiles through Enterprise and paying the bills on time. Mr. Lyons also handles the transportation of visiting ministers to and from the airport.

Activists for God

“I look at my job as tending and keeping,” Mr. Lyons said. He supervises the maintenance for the HQ building, which was a blessing from God through the donations of the members. Mr. Lyons described the HQ building as one of the biggest benefits the Church has, because it would be way more expensive to rent a building. The Church also owns houses that it has purchased in Matthews, North Carolina, the maintenance of which Mr. Lyons helps oversee.

Mr. Lyons closed his lecture by saying that he is an activist advocating for the cause of the Church. He mentioned to the students that we are already a part of the Work, being in the educational program and engaging in the work-study opportunities available to us. He asked all the students to join him in striving to be a vital part of the Work of God.