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Assembly Notes: Develop Your Personality

By Thomas White, student

“Living Education is a character-building institution. … We demonstrate godly character through unique personality. Each of us is a unique creation of God. … You are unique, and you are a unique personality.” – Mr. Richard Ames

 

The first Assembly of the Living Education Program’s second-ever semester was given by Mr. Richard Ames, a veritable savant who has served God’s Church in capacities nigh-innumerable. Each member of the audience found their seat claimed by a multitude of helpful handouts, including a personality test. Mr. Ames used these handouts, along with the considerable knowledge he has amassed from his own research and life experiences, to present us with a memorable Assembly on how we can each come to reflect God’s unchanging character through our own distinctive personalities.

Mr. Ames addressed many of the immensely diverse types of personality that God has designed human beings to have, and firmly pointed out that character and personality are two very different things;  To have godly character is to have the qualities of God Himself, while personality is the unique way in which one person may demonstrate and reflect those qualities. The Apostles Paul and Peter, for example, were both gifted with God’s character and used mightily by Him, but their writings show beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were quite different from one another in personality. It has always been astounding to me that as Spirit Beings in the Family of God, we will all be perfect in character and unity, yet also completely unique, and Mr. Ames has helped me to appreciate that all the more.

 

“‘Who am I?’ This [question] is fundamental to character development, and fundamental to personality development.”

Mr. Ames instructed us to thoughtfully analyze ourselves individually, in order to determine which traits we have, which we need to develop in order to better reflect our Creator, and which we must overcome.  Developing one’s personality takes both knowledge and wisdom, and Mr. Ames stressed how important it is to ask questions of people more experienced than ourselves, imploring us to highlight Proverbs 20:5 in our Bibles: “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” The elderly, in particular, are incredible resources for understanding, and we miss a great opportunity if we fail to take advantage of their experience.

 

“Jesus never forgot who He was. …do you really know your purpose in life, your calling, and who you are? … You are the sons and daughters of the Almighty … You are the saints of God.”

Reminding us of our ultimate goal, Mr. Ames described godly character by breaking it down to four aspects: The ability to know what is right and wrong, the willingness to decide to do what is right, the strength to resist temptation to go the opposite way, and the practice of doing what is right until it becomes an immovable part of one’s inward identity. We were left with five objectives which, if achieved, will help to imbue us with God’s character traits: We must develop outgoing interest and warmth toward others, build zest and humor into our lives (“Five percent humor is better than no humor at all,” Mr. Ames jovially remarked), learn to be patient, compassionate, and modest, be strong, confident, and courageous, and cultivate enthusiasm, drive, and purpose.“…Develop the unique personality that you are,” Mr. Ames said as he concluded, “to reflect and to radiate God’s character in you.”

Books mentioned:

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Book Nobody Knows by Bruce B. Barton

The Man Nobody Knows by Bruce Barton

Assembly Notes: Know Your Foundation!

By Thomas White, Student at Living Ed – Charlotte 

“The world I grew up in was a very different world than the one you’re growing up in.” – Mr. Gerald Weston 

As the first semester of the infant Living Education program drew to a close, Mr. Gerald Weston presented us with the opportunity to hear him give an “icebreaker,” a “This is My Life” speech, as he focused the Assembly on an overview of the experiences that have led him to where he is today.  In doing so, he emphasized to us the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with our Creator, one built upon fundamental truths that we must diligently prove to ourselves.

Mr. Weston began by reminding us that although he was raised in a “very different world”, it is nonetheless true that, no matter the time period in which we live, “in one sense, we’re all the same. … We grow up, we fall in love, we get married and have children, and eventually, we get old and we die.” I found this quite comforting, as it reminded me that despite the increasing degradation of Satan’s world, God continues to make sure that His people have the same opportunities to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. As Mr. Weston made a point of how close the entire planet came to total annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, it hammered in the humbling realization that God truly does want each of us in His family; were it not for His protection, none of us would be here.

“Employers don’t pay you what you need; they pay you what you’re worth. … If you want $20 an hour, you probably have to make about $50 an hour for your employer.”

As Mr. Weston delved into the background of his parents (“one very pragmatic…and one more of a dreamer”), his childhood (“I moved eleven times in my first thirteen years”), and his experiences in the Worldwide Church of God (“I worked on the custodian crew…and as a proofreader in the letter-answering department”), I was particularly struck by the “awakening” he experienced as a boy living in South Dakota, when he realized that he could be paid for shoveling snow. Armed with only a tiny, fold-up army shovel, he proceeded to make fifty cents by clearing the driveways of neighbors, roughly the equivalent of today’s twenty dollars. He used these experiences to stress that too many entitled individuals believe that they should be paid “what they think they need, as opposed to what they’re worth. … If you provide a service, if you work hard, you don’t have to worry about how much you’re going to get paid.”

“We have to know what our foundation is. Something that’s helped me through difficult times…is to have a strong, internal, mental…spiritual foundation.”

Mr. Weston concluded by telling us how he was able to persevere through the apostasy that wracked the Worldwide Church of God in the ’90s. As he did so, he brought out the importance of keeping our spiritual foundation secure, telling us how crucial it is “to know that God exists…and to know that you know that you know that you know that He exists. [To know] that the Bible is His word…not just a nice book, but it is the word of God, and in its original writings is infallible…to know what it actually says, because when you know what it actually says, from there, with God’s help, you can find where you ought to be.”

What Mr. Weston said shortly thereafter was particularly moving, to me. “You need to have the habit of prayer, study, fasting, meditation. … It’s a constant battle when you get down on your knees to try to pray,” he said, describing how our minds can often be far away from our prayers, even when we’re in the middle of them. “…but you know, what I’ve learned is that if you keep fighting that fight, it will work out. Because maybe you won’t have an effective prayer every single day, but you will have those effective prayers.” As someone who often struggles with keeping his head firmly in his prayers, Mr. Weston’s advice served as both inspiration and encouragement to me.

Mr. Weston summed everything up by quoting the foundational scripture that is Hebrews 11:6, which reads, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” If we can live by this verse, knowing our foundation and diligently maintaining a relationship with God, then, in Mr. Weston’s own words, “I think you’re going to find that life will turn out pretty well for you, just as it certainly has for me, in so many ways.”

*Books mentioned:
“Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World” Evan Thomas

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!

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: 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

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?

Assembly Notes: To Be a Pioneer

“You are pioneers. You will be an example…” – Mr. Gerald Weston

When we begin working on something original, involve ourselves in a brand new project, venture into undiscovered or unknown territory, or even to step out of our comfort zone to be part of something bigger than ourselves, we become adventurers, inventors, pioneers. For the students in this first semester of the Living Education – Charlotte program, they have courageously stepped into the experience, accepting the task as pioneers in a new era of education in the church.

 

“We didn’t choose a time of entering this world…it was chosen for us.”

 

Pioneer: (n) “a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.” (Dictionary.com)
While this may be the dictionary’s answer, what does it really mean to be a pioneer? What kind of responsibilities does pioneering require?

 

Addressing the fourteen, on-campus students of their involvement with the brand-new Living Education Program, Mr. Weston began, “I am going to explain to you the importance of your pioneering experience.” He continued by describing his experiences, and observations from his time at Ambassador College in the 1960’s. He related the lessons he learned there, to take care of others, of carefully following instructions and working within designated parameters, to carefully prioritize, and to dress professionally and modestly, in order to inspire the students to be mindful of how they conduct themselves as pioneers of the program.

“What we want to do here at Living Education is to be part of creating a culture of purity, honor and respect…a culture means more than one person.”

Mr. Weston encouraged the students to embrace and help establish good traditions at Living Education such as to enjoying Friday night dinners, building good habits of prayer and study into your daily routine, exemplifying of a high standard of living to your neighbors by keeping care of your property. To be an excellent pioneer means humbly embracing the role, developing a personal honor code, and understanding that a pioneer’s example continues far beyond the time they perform the part.

 

 

Books mentioned:
Dress for Success” John T. Malloy
When Character was King” Peggy Noonan