Student Life: Fun in the…Snow!

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

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

On January 28th, 2022 this year’s Living Education students embarked on a journey west to the scenic mountains of North Carolina.

The journey up to the mountains was somewhat precarious with forecasted snow hitting earlier than predicted and the windy roads being mountainous. That said, the risk was well worth it as each foot gained in elevation correlated directly to beautiful scenery and cleaner air. The destination on the first day of travel was a large classically rustic home nestled in the forest of the Appalachian mountain range.  The accommodations were spacious and the atmosphere cheery as the LE students settled in and claimed which bed was who’s. With this task accomplished they moved on to the true question of the night, what was for dinner? 

Dinner, headed by this year’s lady students, was a delicious and nutritious taco salad (which I myself had plenty of) with all the fixings and toppings. The conversation was lively and good-spirited and continued into the wee hours of the night. Breakfast the following day consisted of bagels, oatmeal, and other assorted items, and the Sabbath was spent relaxing, with plenty of reading and nature walks. 

That afternoon, Mr. Jonathan McNair (the Living Education program director) gave an informative and inspiring sermonette about our brethren in Southeast Asia and the struggles they are going through in wake of the political and social unrest ravaging the area. This was followed by an inspiring sermon regarding our walk with God in the face of adversity in which he challenged us to consider how we would act if we were all alone in our walk with God. “It all starts with one person,” Mr. McNair emphasized, highlighting Noah as one of many great biblical examples of individuals who walked in the way that God directed.

Assembly Summary: Interpersonal Communication

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

For his recent assembly message, Mr. Richard Ames talked about the topic of communication.

He informed the students that, in 1978, he started pursuing a master’s degree in communication. He took a class called “Interpersonal Communication,” where he was assigned to improve his interpersonal relationship with one other person. Mr. Ames decided to improve his communication with his wife, to whom he had been married for fourteen years at the time. 

Keys to Improve Interpersonal Communication

Mr. Ames told us to practice biblical principles for loving communication. Ephesians 4:15 admonishes us to speak the truth in love, but too many speak the truth in hate. We should want to edify—build up—the person we are talking to. The entirety of James 3 contrasts biblical communication with what is normal for man. Mr. Ames advised us to pray that God will give us the things that we need to say in love, and he also recommended that we do a word study of Scripture’s use of the words mouth, tongue, lips, and words.

Mr. Ames also said that we should analyze our transactions. Transactional analysis is a psychoanalysis theory and a method of therapy developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne. Some of these transactions are labeled as parent, adult, and child. The parent role is considered an instructional role of communication, the adult role is considered informational, and the child role is considered emotional. 

Eric Berne also wrote about cross-transactional communication. An example of this occurs if you are asked, “What time is it?,” and, instead of giving the time, you respond with, “What are you asking me for?” In this scenario, the question is informational, but the response is emotional. Communicating on an informational level helps to eliminate judgmentalism.

Mr. Ames also addressed the need to practice positive reinforcement. Everyone likes to produce behaviors that reinforce positive rewards and to stay away from behaviors that bring negative consequences. If someone is trying to do something nice and the other party complains, then whoever did the action was not rewarded and would not likely do that action again. This key gets to the matter of encouragement. 

Share your life,” Mr. Ames said. We need to share some of our activities and thoughts with others to deepen our relationships with them. Sometimes we are so busy with life that this step gets ignored, but following it enhances the interpersonal relationship between us and other people. Mr. Ames also mentioned that there is an approach called accurate empathy, with which you are able to discern another person’s view of the world as if it were your own. 

Another aspect of this is called non-possessive warmth. This is a demonstration of unconditional positive regard, involving caring about another person without imposing conditions on them. Mr. Ames tied this in with Philippians 2:3.Mr. Ames admonished us to use these keys to improve our interpersonal communication, reminding us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29–31).

Forum Summary: Dealing with Distractions

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

For his recent Forum message, Mr. Bob Rodzaj talked about distractions.

He explained that “one of the greatest difficulties facing many of us today are distractions of all sorts.” Mr. Rodzaj broke this difficulty down into three challenges we must overcome.

The First Challenge: Ourselves

As Mr. Rodzaj illustrated, Romans 8:7 shows us that our very human nature strives against what God wants us to do. Our Father wants us to be productive in doing His Work, but effort is not always fun. And fun is something we crave; we can’t seem to get enough of it. 

However, we can overcome our human nature and exercise self-control through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit, we can “put to death the deeds of the body, [and] live” (Romans 8:13).

The Second Challenge: The Adversary

Satan, our adversary, does everything in his power to distract us from what we should be doing. Mr. Rodzaj showed the students through Ephesians 2:2 that Satan’s influence floods the world with distractions, negativity, and insubordination. 1 Peter 5:8 describes Satan as a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 

The word “devour” is synonymous with “consume.” Satan uses distractions to consume our attention and energy. He wants us to foolishly associate sex, entertainment, status, possessions, and even food and drink with satisfaction and happiness. But we can ask God to strengthen us and eliminate any vulnerabilities we may have. As James 4:7 puts it, if we submit to God, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us.

The Third Challenge: The Distractions Themselves

To be distracted is a choice. We choose what we allow to distract us. With smartphones and social media, people can no longer settle their minds. These provide a constant influx of information, and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Multitasking has become the norm, yet it’s wreaking havoc on our attention spans. We’re training our brains to focus on many things at once, and as a result, we are losing our ability to focus on one thing at a time.

Mr. Rodzaj quoted from The Distracted Mind by neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley: “We act as if we are no longer interested in or able to stay idle and simply do nothing,” and “where we used to read, we now skim.” Mr. Rodzaj asked the students, “Could we be doing this with the Bible?”

When we are baptized, we make a commitment to God that we’ll let Christ live His life in us. This includes how we use our time. All our time should belong to God, as we only have so much time to use to fulfill God’s will and become like Him.

Mr. Rodzaj referenced Dr. Richard Swenson’s book Margin, which explains that setting limits in life—learning to say no, turning off the television, selecting which activities we give time to, focusing on getting the right things done, and taking time to assess our decisions before we make them—will help us keep focused.We must simplify our lives until we can see clearly what we are doing with our time. Mr. Rodzaj asked the students how far they were willing to go to resist and reject distractions as prescribed in Matthew 5:29-30. Ultimately, every word of God is about how we interact with our Creator, each other, and creation. And while distractions can ruin our relationships, we can overcome these challenges by exercising the power to choose how we spend our time and by relying on God to provide the help we need.

Assembly Summary: CAD – A Story in Stats

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Rod McNair opened his recent lecture by stating the mission of the Church Administration Department (CAD), which is to oversee the ministry—which, in turn, oversees the congregations around the world.

In John 21:15–17, Peter was given a directive to feed and oversee the flock, and CAD takes this very seriously, working hard to provide coordination, communication, and administrative support to the ministry. 

Mr. McNair mentioned that in Noah’s day, he had no coworker to help him with the Work. The Church talks about statistics because, with them, we can compare the growth and see the fruits of our efforts. Imagine if, year after year, while the Gospel was being preached, no one responded to the message—this was what it was like for Noah, who still remained faithful to God.

Mr. McNair gave some statistics regarding Tomorrow’s World Presentations (TWPs) and the brethren around the world.

Tomorrow’s World Presentations

  • There have been a total of 30,905 TWP attendees from 2006 to the present. TWPs are a campaign that started during the Worldwide Church of God, but in 2006, pastors became more heavily involved in making them more localized. 
  • On average, two percent of those invited to TWPs within the United States actually attend them—in other words, out of every 100 people who are invited to a TWP, 98 of them will not attend.
  • On average, 4.2 percent of those invited to a TWP outside the U.S. will attend.

The topics that TWP attendees want to hear about the most are:

  1. Prophecy, including topics such as “the rapture,” heaven and hell, and life after death. Information on prophecy has been requested about 50 percent of the time.
  2. Holy Days—it is surprising to see how much people want to hear about this topic. Information on the Holy Days has been requested about 30 percent of the time.
  3. Holidays
  4. The Sabbath
  5. The Ten Commandments
  6. The Holy Spirit
  7. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
  8. Baptism and Repentance

When planning for TWPs, CAD begins working at least eight weeks ahead, since they have to print out brochures and have them mailed out to those on the list of subscribers in a given city. There have been 1,265 TWPs since 2006. Mr. McNair showed the students a map of the U.S. that highlights the areas where we commonly have TWPs, mentioning that we have a lot of work to do.

General Church Statistics

  • There are 417 congregations in the Living Church of God worldwide.
  • LCG has 2,600 prospective members who are seventeen years old or younger.
  • There have been 6,200 baptisms since 1991. This shows that the Work is still being done.
  • LCG has 5,598 members, prospective members, and children in the U.S., and it has 6,458 members, prospective members, and children in 92 other countries.
  • There are 99 scattered brethren around the world who do not have a congregation in their country.
  • An estimated 60,000 people contact LCG’s Personal Correspondence Department with questions in the last fifteen to sixteen years.

Mr. McNair concluded his lecture with Matthew 24:45–51, reiterating that our job is to do the Work; God is the one who brings the harvest, and we need to work in the field.

Forum Summary: 10 Practical Financial Principles

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

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

Mr. Josh Lyons, a minister in LCG and former Living University student, brought to the Living Education students’ attention that the Bible has many verses related to finance and wealth, and that it gives us foundational financial principles of being balanced, being generous, and tithing.

But he wanted to focus on some other practical tips for this week’s forum, so he provided the students with ten financial principles he hoped would help them in life. He began by splitting these principles into three broad categories.

Small, Practical Tips

Principle 1: Have at least $1,000 in your emergency fund.

In life, there will come days when you have no choice but to spend $500 or $1,000—your car could break down, you could sustain an injury, your house could need repair, etc. It’s best to always be prepared for these situations with at least $1,000 in reserve.

Principle 2: Intentionally build and maintain a good credit score.

The FICO credit score ranges from 350 to 850. The closer your score is to 850, the better your credit is. When you have good credit, you can get better loans more easily, with better terms and better credit cards. 

The five main aspects to your credit score are paying your bills on time, how much debt you are in, the length of your credit history, the type of debt you accrue, and recent inquiries into your credit. A good practice for young people is to get a credit card and spend just a little with it, paying it off at the end of each month to start building your credit score early.

Principle 3: Buy things used

A brand-new car will decrease in value as soon as you drive it out of the dealership. For many, buying used cars is a better option. This applies to furniture and appliances, too.

Principle 4: Keep a personal balance sheet

A balance sheet is a snapshot of everything you own and everything you owe, your assets and liabilities. This is a useful tool in figuring out your financial status, both in the present and in the future.

Avoiding Financial Traps

Principle 5: Avoid credit-card debt

Two big reasons that it is very important to pay off your credit card at the end of each month are that credit cards can make us feel like we have money that we really don’t have, and that the interest for late payments can be as high as twenty percent. If you don’t pay your credit card balance on time, you’ll likely end up paying way more in interest than the original purchase was worth.

Principle 6: Avoid investing in something you don’t understand

This is a simple principle: You need to be sure to do your research on something before you invest. Don’t buy into the hype. Practicing discernment and acquiring knowledge is essential to successful investing.

Principle 7: Never gamble

This is common sense, but some do fall into this trap. Gambling on sports, as Mr. Lyons has noticed, seems to be on the rise. It’s very easy to do, but we must be careful to avoid it, as it can be very addictive.

The Big Principles

Principle 8: Make sure your biggest financial decisions are good ones

One of these big decisions can be buying a car—you need to do your research to make sure your car won’t have problems down the road. A good car can last for years. This principle especially applies to buying a house, which could be the biggest financial decision of your life. 

Principle 9: Choose a good career

Choosing a career path, depending upon the career, can cost you a lot of time and money. So, make sure that the career you choose will pay you back. It’s wise to pick an industry that has a demand for workers and to consider how well your degree, trade, or certificate will financially benefit you. Choosing a career can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and will have a significant financial impact on your life—so, be sure you know what you’re getting into.

Principle 10: Always spend less than you make

This is another very simple principle, but, as with many things, it is easier said than done. However, if you live within your means, you will accumulate wealth over time that can be used as a tool to provide for and protect your family, and to help others in times of need.

Mr. Lyons hoped the Living Education students found his message helpful and reminded them that living by these principles will lead to prosperous financial stability in their lives.

Assembly Summary: The Blessings of Marriage

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Wallace Smith focused his recent assembly message on the topic of marriage.

When we think about marriage, we sometimes think about the world’s approach to marriage versus the way it is approached in the Bible. From Mr. Smith’s perspective, we tend to look at marriage in terms of how great it is to avoid the negative things that are happening in the world, but we don’t focus on how wonderful marriage is, in and of itself. 

When God created marriage, He created it to anchor the family. Mr. Smith stressed the point that even though God can work with different types of families, such as single-parent families, we must be mindful that families without both a husband and a wife have a challenge to overcome. 

Six Blessings of Marriage

Mr. Smith explained to us that God designed sex to be within the confines of marriage. He used Proverbs 30:18–19 to show that God designed men and women to be attracted to each other. We must, however, be sure that we are not just going along with the world’s painting of what sex is, but instead recognizing that sex, when in marriage, is a uniquely wonderful thing.

Commitment within marriage is another blessing, and as Mr. Smith put it, “none of us gets out of it alive.” He emphasized that it is a tremendous blessing to know that there is someone in your life who is extremely committed to you. The world has the philosophy that your feelings are the truth, but the truth is that feelings are fickle and not enough to carry a relationship through. Marriage is based on commitment.

Marriage also brings companionship that is different from mere friendship. Mr. Smith turned to Malachi 2:13–14 to highlight that it is talking about someone who has been with you on the same journey through life. He stressed that companionship is something that happens over time; you are shaped into the right companion for your spouse, and vice versa. Your companion is that one person who knows things about you that no one else knows.

Vulnerability in marriage is also a blessing. Mr. Smith reminded us that your spouse is with you all the time; you cannot keep up appearances with that person. Your spouse sees you in different environments—both on your good days and on your bad.

God is planning His Family, and He gives us children to teach us. Mr. Smith said that with children you learn to give, especially when they are not giving to you.

Finally, Mr. Smith spoke about how marriage gives us fulfillment of our design. God designed marriage and helped Adam to realize that he was initially missing something; it was not until God created both man and woman that He stated that His creation was “very good.” Our gender roles are revealed in marriage, and fulfilling these roles helps us to grow.

Forum Summary: Who Was Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong?

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

For the forum this week, the director of Living Education, Mr. Jonathan McNair, wanted to give the students a look into the final days of the Worldwide Church of God through a collection of interviews with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong

about the early days of the Church and his visits with the prominent world leaders of the day. Mr. McNair explained that it was important for the students to understand who Mr. Armstrong was and recognize the legacy he left behind.

50 Years of Work

Mr. Armstrong was one of the pioneers of religious broadcasting. His broadcasting career began with a 15-minute time slot on the KORE radio station in 1933. But with the popularity of his broadcast, the station asked him to start a regular Sunday program, leading to the beginning of what would be called the Radio Church of God. On February 1st, 1934, the first issue of The Plain Truth magazine was released with only about 350 copies. Little did Mr. Armstrong realize at the time that this humble radio show and magazine were the start of what was to become a worldwide work to fulfill the great commission Jesus Christ gave His Church. Mr. Armstrong went on to write in his autobiography, “At last in the light of fast developing, world-encircling events, it became apparent what was actually happening back in 1934 was precisely this: Jesus Christ was opening the gigantic, mass-media door of radio and the printing press for the proclaiming of His same original gospel to all the world.” (Armstrong, 539).

By 1944, The World Tomorrow radio program could be heard throughout the United States, and by 1953 it was broadcast to all of Europe through Radio Luxembourg, the most powerful radio station on earth at the time. As The World Tomorrow program grew, so too did the circulation of The Plain Truth, first in the thousands, then in the millions. Mr. Armstrong remained active as editor-in-chief of the magazine until the end of his life.

“You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake.”

For almost 20 years, Mr. Armstrong traveled the globe meeting with kings, emperors, presidents, prime ministers, and leaders of many nations. The walls of his study were lined with gifts and mementos from these visits.

When asked about what he discussed with these leaders, Mr. Armstrong said, “I talk about the conditions that they are confronted with…The cause of these conditions, I go as an unofficial ambassador for world peace. I have to tell them why we don’t have peace; I have to show them how peace is going to come…Do I talk about the Kingdom of God? Yes, I do. And God is going to intervene, sometimes I tell them that straight out.”

When asked the reasons behind these visits, Mr. Armstrong said, “My whole purpose in going to the heads of state is to establish myself [in] the country and get the gospel message to the lay people… [In] many countries, I have found, you can’t get in there with a religious message that you want to get to their people unless you’ve been approved at the top.”

Mr. Armstrong lived his life doing God’s work until the very end. His life serves as an inspiring example of faith and service to the Church. Mr. McNair explained that what we’re doing today is the legacy of Mr. Armstrong’s work. God orchestrated it so that Mr. Armstrong was a witness to mankind, so we too have the potential to become witnesses to the world.

Assembly Summary: Foreshadowing the Future

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Mario Hernandez opened his recent lecture by commenting on why he thinks so many people are getting sick.

He believes that God might be foreshadowing what is to come. He spoke about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, reminding the students of what each horseman symbolizes and the order in which they appear. He stressed the importance of knowing and understanding these things, since these horses will begin galloping in the future. We are to take the illnesses occurring around us as a warning, especially considering that the first horseman, symbolizing deceptive religion, has not yet intensified his ride.

He strongly urged us that we need to take the opportunities that are provided at Living Education seriously, because God will require more from us than He will from those who have not had these opportunities. We cannot allow the distractions of the world to keep us from doing what God wants us to do. We must have zeal to do the work of God. He mentioned that we live in a world filled with perversion, and that these sins are spreading like wildfire. He stated that God is being provoked by humans and that He will bring punishments once the children are completely corrupted.

Developing Integrity and Character

Mr. Hernandez encouraged the students by stating, “Your future is bright.” If we are able to resist the temptation around us, we will be protected from what is coming. He mentioned that no society has been exposed to so much evil, in such concentrated amounts, and in such a short period of time, as our society today. We must have integrity and character, which are defined by what we do when no one is looking at us. 

Mr. Hernandez pointed to Ezekiel 14:12–23 to show that God will punish the nations for their perversions and sins. In the days of Noah, God preserved him along with his wife, sons, and sons’ wives. Yet, in our generation, a father will not be able to save his son by his righteousness, but only himself. But, as Mr. Hernandez also noted, God does offer protection.

Overcoming the Dragon

Mr. Hernandez read 1 John 2:12–14, reminding the students of the importance of overcoming Satan, the dragon. He stated that even in many stories written for younger audiences, the dragon is slain with a sword, and this case is no different—we need our sword, the word of God, in order to overcome the adversary. Mr. Hernandez stressed the importance of “putting oil in our lamps” daily: “Do you know who the foolish virgin is? The one who does not read his or her Bible every day.” He urged the students that if we do not read our Bibles daily, our lights will be so dim that they will not be useful to us.

We must offer our spiritual incense daily as well, by praying to God. Aaron physically offered incense to God in ancient Israel, and we are given the same duties as the priesthood on a spiritual level. He also encouraged the students to quickly go to the Scriptures whenever we enter temptation. He closed his lecture with this inspiring sentence: “The key to enjoying life is to obey God.”

Forum Summary: A Look into the Role of Pastoring

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

The Living Education students recently got to hear from Mr. Jonathan Bueno, a former Living University student and a pastor in God’s Church.

To help the students better relate to their local ministers, Mr. Bueno gave them insight into the ordination process and the responsibilities of an area pastor.

The Ordination of a Pastor

The office of a pastor comes directly from God the Father and Jesus Christ. This role is established only by appointment. Mr. Bueno was approached in Charlotte about whether he would be willing to serve in the ministry. He agreed, and after some training and nine months in Kansas City as a ministerial trainee, he was ordained on Pentecost in 2016. When one is ordained, they are presented before the congregation and have hands laid on them by a senior minister or group of ministers. They are recognized before the congregation as having an office backed up and empowered by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. When hands are laid upon an individual to ordain him, ministers ask for an extra measure of the Holy Spirit to help him perform the functions of a pastor.

So, What Are the Functions of a Pastor?

John 21:15-17 shows that one of the responsibilities Christ gave to Peter as leader of His Church was to feed God’s people—to tend His sheep. These responsibilities fall on pastors as well, and Mr. Bueno believes these they are accomplished in three primary ways:

1. Teaching

When Christ told Peter to feed the flock, He was essentially saying to make sure God’s people are given spiritual food that promotes growth. A pastor must provide a balanced spiritual diet. He is to expound the word of God, which can be done through sermons and Bible studies, but also through informal occasions, such as Church activities and personal visits with the brethren. However, the pastor is not to promote his ideas, but to teach what he has been taught in his training.

2. Counseling

Counseling can look like teaching in many ways, but the basic difference is that teaching covers broad topics and is addressed to many people, while counseling is more specific to the individual and situation. It can be as simple as a member seeking advice, or more formal such as baptism and marriage counseling. The goal of counseling is not for a pastor to solve the problem, but to equip the counseled individual to handle the situation and help them to go to God’s word and seek out what it says on the matter. Something Mr. Bueno wanted the students to understand is that ministers are available to counsel whenever you need them. Mr. Bueno pointed to Exodus 18 as an example of leadership helping the congregation of Israel in applying God’s law to the various aspects of day-to-day life.

3. Administration

The responsibility of leading and organizing a congregation ultimately falls on its area pastor, who is directed by his regional pastor, who is directed by Headquarters—God’s Church is organized. And as the first-century Church was to imitate their headquarters in Judea, so too is a pastor to ensure that his congregation imitates Headquarters in Charlotte. This involves organizing the congregation and filing paperwork for Headquarters to review. This way, everyone can be on the same page.

There are many aspects of a pastor’s role, but Mr. Bueno believes they can be effectively broken down into teaching, counseling, and administration. He hopes this helped the students to better understand their local pastor and their relationship with him.

Forum Summary: Understanding Satan’s Culture of Lies

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

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

To be deceived is to believe in a lie.

For the forum this week, Mr. Phillip West described three lies Satan is using to deceive the whole world. Cautioning the Living Education students to beware of these lies and giving them the biblical truths to combat them, he encouraged the students to always be on guard—while the elect are distinguished by their knowledge of the truth, even they can be deceived.

Lie 1: “All Truth is Subjective”

Satan has been very successful in convincing the world that there is no objective truth. Mr. West referenced John 18:37, where Pilate asks Jesus what truth is, as a biblical example of this. Just like so many others today, Pilate was trying to justify his actions by reasoning that all truth is subjective. So many live their lives with the thought that “if I feel it, it must be true,” but subjective truth is affected and changed by emotions. 

To illustrate this, Mr. West used the example that if you asked everyone in a room their favorite dessert, you would likely get vastly different answers. The subjective truth is their dessert preference. However, objective truth is unchanging—it will forever remain the same. It is said in Malachi 3:6 that God does not change. The objective, provable truth of His word will never change, and it will soon be revealed to the world.

Lie 2: “Follow Your Heart”

Any fan of Disney films will likely be familiar with this concept. A theme of many stories is to follow your heart, but we find in Jeremiah 17:9 that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked….” In truth, this is the nature of mankind. It is because of this that Satan is able to deceive the whole world. He knows what he is doing when he encourages us to follow our hearts. Yet, as Mr. West brought out, God is not blind to the nature of man, and He is judging our hearts (v. 10). 

Lie 3: “A Good God Wouldn’t Judge”

“Don’t judge me!” is a phrase all too common today. The mentality behind it has even affected mainstream Christianity, leading to the idea that since God is good and merciful, He wouldn’t judge. Proponents of this lie consider themselves “progressive” Christians, proclaiming to have “a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the earth… [and] a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to ‘love one another’ (John 15:17) within the teachings of Jesus Christ.” 

Now, this all may sound very biblical at first; Jesus does want us to love one another. But Mr. West explained that progressive Christianity is rooted in a misunderstanding of love. Looking at John 7:24, we see that we are to “judge with righteous judgment.” We are to love the sinner, but not the sin, and we are to learn to judge between right and wrong. The reality is that condoning bad behavior is not love; love and judgment are not mutually exclusive. Scripture tells us that God is a righteous judge whose judgment is both just and loving.

Mr. West ended his forum by commending the students for engaging in the Living Education program and encouraging them to have an open, teachable mind to the knowledge they’ll receive this semester. Yet he also warned them to beware of and close their minds to Satan’s tricks, staying in the path of righteousness and not turning to the path of deception.