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Forum Summary: The Habit Way

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 50 seconds

Mr. Brandon Fall pastors six congregations in Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. “It’s good to be here with you. I pastor the American Northwest, but we’re right in transition to move to the Mountain States—Wyoming—later this month.” After this move, Mr. Fall will be responsible for ten congregations across Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Alaska.

“Parlez-vous Anglais?”

Several years back, Mr. Fall and his wife flew from Los Angelos to Paris to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in France. They had made plans to meet friends in Paris with whom they could drive to the Feast site. Mr. Fall was following behind their car on a freeway when their friends ahead suddenly merged onto an offramp towards a different freeway. Mr. Fall managed to merge right also, but at the last second, their friends switched lanes again, back onto the highway. There was a car in the lane to the left of him, and it was too late for Mr. Fall to get over. They had no choice but to take the exit. They were on their own in a foreign city, and Mr. Fall said the extent of his French was, “Parlez-vous anglais?”  Do you speak English?

“It’s so easy to get off the path if you haven’t systematically planned.”

The Church, beginning with the time of the Apostles (Acts 19:9,23), has served as the center for learning the Christian way of life. The purpose of Living Ed, outlined on lcgeducation.org, reflects this: “Systematic training in the knowledge and understanding of the Way of God.” Using the book Atomic Habits by James Clear as a reference, Mr. Fall spoke to the students about establishing a deliberate way of life by harnessing the power of tiny, daily habits.

Daily habits make up one’s way of life. “Every action you take,” Mr. Fall said, “is a vote for the type of person you become.” In Matthew 6:33-34, Christ defined a Christian’s ultimate goal—to be in the Kingdom of God. But He then said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Mr. Fall said, “You focus on the Kingdom of God by focusing on the here and now.” Small habits are like compounding interest over time—their value builds. “Let’s zero in on three practical steps to implement the way of small habits.”

The Way of Small Habits

Don’t focus on motivation. Focus on changing habits. “If we’re at the mercy of how we feel, and if we don’t feel motivated, what are we going to do then?” Rather than depend on motivation, Mr. Fall encouraged the students to install habits that become part of their identity. “What we do reinforces our identity and our path.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 reads, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Daily habits, like prayer or Bible study, renew a Christian’s identity and keeps them in God’s way. “When we install a habit, we no longer need willpower to continue, so our limited willpower can be used to install a new one.”

Establish the pattern. Clear wrote, “A habit must be established before it’s improved.” People who want to change their lives often envision a complete transformation. But to install a habit, Mr. Fall explained, one must set a pattern first—even if it means starting small. Atomic Habits contains an example of a man who wanted to lose 100 pounds. For two months, he went to the gym and exercised for five minutes. The pattern was established after a few weeks, and he began to stay longer and exercise. He accomplished his goal by establishing a rock-solid pattern.

Track your progress. “A habit tracker provides psychologic feedback of accomplishment.” Mr. Fall recommended the students build a habit tracker, with which they can check off the habits accomplished every day over a month. He explained tracking one’s progress brings satisfaction and builds momentum. Moses wrote, “The days of our lives are seventy years… for it is soon cut off, and we fly away… So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10-12). Habit tracking also instills awareness of the passage of time and the value of every day.

“Living Ed students, you have a path in your life. You’re learning the way of God.” Mr. Fall concluded his talk, “You can have great intentions, but if you don’t have intentional habits, it’s so easy to get lost in Paris.” Daily, atomic habits can establish a Christian’s way of life and keep them from accidentally merging off the right highway.


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Course Spotlight: 2 Peter and Jude Comparison

The epistles of 2 Peter and Jude share many common themes. View the comparison between each epistle and identify the key concepts!

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 2) The Letters of John and Jude

Assembly Summary: Five Ways to Manage Stress

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes.

Mr. Ron Poole is the area pastor for several congregations in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Mr. Frank introduced him to the students, “Mr. Poole lives not too far from us here, but he’s a busy man. Mr. Poole, it’s all yours.”

“How many of you have had an encounter with a snake?” Most of the students raised their hands, and Mr. Poole recounted an experience. He and some other young men were paddling down the Saluda River. With three adults weighing down their canoe, the water level was only three or four inches below the edge of the boat. He said, “I look over to the right, and here comes a snake swimming towards the canoe.” The young guys yelled and slapped the water, trying to scare it away, but it kept racing closer. Mr. Poole considered leaping out the other side and letting the snake have the boat it so badly wanted, but they finally frightened it away with their paddles.

Fight or Flee?

The human body is equipped with a chemical “alarm system” designed to deal with short-term emergencies. Mr. Poole explained how a hormonal surge in the brain’s hypothalamus increases the heart rate and blood circulation, mobilizing energy in the body and enabling a person to react quickly to danger. He said, “But when that same stress response keeps firing day after day, it can put the body at risk.” The constant influx of these stress hormones in the body weakens the immunes system and degrades one’s psychological state. Mr. Poole pointed out short term stress is not the problem. Prolonged stress—distress—is the issue. While college life may be considered a great time of life, Mr. Poole said, “We tend to ignore the pressure during this period.” Missed due dates, incomplete work, and lack of engagement in class are all signs of stress that need to be relieved.

How to Reduce Stress

The motto of Living Education is “Building a Godly Foundation.” Mr. Poole said, “I want to encourage you to build on that foundation to help you relieve the stress in your life.” The students received five keys to reducing stress.

“Read more.” In a study done at Seton Hall University in 2009, researchers found that just thirty minutes of reading lowered a stressed student’s blood pressure as effectively as yoga or humor. Another study found the habit of reading lowers one’s mortality risk by twenty percent. He advised the students to take time to search out positive reading material. “Reading gives muscle to the memory and keeps the mind young.”

“Unplug from technology.” While modern technology can make life easier, Mr. Poole said, “Too often, it creates more stress.” Teens who are addicted to the internet are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. At Hasselt University, researchers found that a three percent increase in neighborhood “greenness” increased children’s IQ score by an average of 2.6 points. Mr. Poole recommended the students unplug from their devices and spend time in the natural world.

“Stay positive and forgive others.” Mr. Poole said the major cause of stress is relationships. Even in extremely stressful situations, Paul kept his focus on God and helping others (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Mr. Poole said, “Christ taught us to forgive others even as He was being crucified.” A positive and forgiving person manages their stress more effectively.

“Plan your routine.” Another simple way to prevent stress is to plan your day the night before. Mr. Poole used the Sabbath as an example. When small decisions—like what you will wear and what you need to bring to services—are made beforehand, many little stresses are eliminated and the Sabbath becomes more rewarding. “Preparation helps you to be ready for life’s daily opportunities.”

“Don’t be pulled in by the world.” “It seems we can’t escape from stress… Forty million adults [in the U.S.] have an anxiety disorder.” Mr. Poole reminded the students that Christians should go to God with their stresses. “We recognize the way of life God affords us brings a tremendous level of peace.” 1 John 2:15-17 contains the “world’s advertisements” that keep Christians from focusing on their primary goals in life. While Christ said the hearts of men would fail them at the end of the age (Luke 21:25-26), Mr. Poole warned the students not to be pulled in by the world—so they can face the difficult future with faith, not failing hearts.

Manage Your Stress

“You, young people, will move on to help lead the Church in the future… We need you to have cool heads. We need you to keep your feet firmly on the ground, on the firm foundation you’re building on. It is up to you. You must manage your stress level. As you do, you’ll reserve the hormones for the next time you walk upon a snake.”


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Digging Deeper: Jesus Stopped at a Comma

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading time: 8 min.

Did you know that when Jesus read a passage of Isaiah during a synagogue service He stopped his reading at a comma?

This was a most unusual preaching strategy but it was done deliberately. My last Digging Deeper article entitled “Jesus’ Sermon at His Hometown Synagogue” outlined the liturgy and custom of the first-century Jewish synagogue. In it, I explained that Jesus was recognized as a member of His Nazareth synagogue and was invited by custom to read a portion of either the Law or the Prophets. Jesus may have deliberately chosen the scroll of Isaiah for this sermon to His fellow worshipers. However, what He read and pointedly commented upon caused them to rise up and threaten His life.

Luke alone records this incident in Luke 4:16-30. Jesus quoted two passages from Isaiah He was beginning to fulfill: Isaiah 61:1-2 and Isaiah 58:6. Combining two texts with a similar theme was a common practice called a gezerah shava. If you read Isaiah’s original version, you will notice some rewording of the text in Luke’s account. This was common practice throughout our New Testament. God, the Author and Chief Editor of the Bible, is at liberty to revise and rephrase His word as necessary depending on the context in which it is cited.

Jesus First Came as a Prophet

When Jesus proclaimed that the Spirit was upon Him, He meant that he was moved to do some supernatural work. In Luke 4:18 He explained He was anointed by the Spirit, as Luke later explained in Acts 10:38, that authorized Him to preach. The Old Testament ceremony of anointing with oil inaugurated men into the offices of priest, prophet, or king. Jesus first came as the Prophet (Matthew 21:11; John 7:40), today He is our High Priest in heaven, and He will return as our King. He holds all three offices at once.

Jesus explained this anointing enabled Him to preach the gospel to the poor. He was a master preacher and teacher. One matter Luke emphasized about Jesus’ ministry was His concern for those materially poor. They were often at the mercy of unscrupulous officials and businessmen. It was generally thought that their suffering was due to God’s curse and was their fault. By contrast, those who relieved the poor were considered especially righteous since almsgiving was synonymous with righteousness in the minds of many at the time.

Jesus then proclaimed He was sent to heal the brokenhearted – those who were in despair of heart including those who mourn over their sins leading to repentance. He continued His sermon stating He came to preach deliverance to the captives – i.e., the forgiveness of sins and remission of its penalty. Those who are held in Satan’s snare as his captives in body, mind, or spirit Jesus will deliver.

Jesus added that He had come to recover sight to the blind – including those spiritually blind to God’s truth. During His ministry, Jesus healed many who were physically blind. He next declared that He came to set at liberty those who are bruised – i.e., oppressed, broken people. Jesus came to free people from heavy burdens of sin and oppressive rabbinical restrictions.

Jesus knew what it was like to be poor, brokenhearted, and bruised (Isaiah 53:3-5). The phrase “to set at liberty them that are bruised” in Luke 4:18 was Jesus’ insertion of a paraphrase from Isaiah 58:6. He was announcing a time when salvation was available to His audiences. The final phrase of Isaiah 61:2 states that throughout His ministry He came to comfort all that mourn: those who mourn over loss or sin. He still does today!

Stopping at a comma

In Luke 4:19, Jesus quoted only part of Isaiah 61:2. Notice the complete verse: Isaiah 61:2 KJV  “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” “The acceptable year of the Lord” sometimes refers to the Jubilee year of Leviticus 26:8-17. However, Jesus applied it to His ministry then. He offered liberation from sin and its consequences. Those who accepted His salvation offer became His disciples.

As He quoted Isaiah 61:2 He stopped at the first comma (in the English Bible) and omitted “the day of vengeance of our God” and the rest of that verse (Luke 4:19). His reason seems to have been that the day of vengeance of our God is reserved for His second coming when He returns as conquering King and administers vengeance (justice) on those who willfully oppose Him.

Many Jews at the time believed that salvation was for them a matter of nationality rather than of submission to God. They considered vengeance and retribution to be reserved for the Gentiles. Some of the Jewish sects believed that Messiah would return as a powerful, conquering prince at the head of a mighty army to vanquish their enemies. When Jesus came instead as a suffering Servant Messiah who died for human sin, they rejected Him because He did not meet their messianic expectations. Their pride, prejudice, and preconceived opinion blinded them to their own spiritual need for repentance. What follows in this story is the result of this attitude.

Scripture fulfilled in a Man from Nazareth

In Luke 4:20 Jesus ended His reading, rolled up the scroll of Isaiah, and handed it back to the chazzan so He could sit down, as was customary, to deliver a sermon about these passages. The eyes of the congregation were fixed upon Him. There was an atmosphere of suspense building as they wondered what He would say next. He proclaimed that these texts were being fulfilled in their hearing (Luke 4:21). By contrast, they expected these passages to be fulfilled in a coming messianic age. Jesus said this phase of His ministry had already begun and they were being given an offer of repentance and discipleship.

The audience wondered at such gracious words coming from one they had known since He was a boy. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”, they asked (Luke 4:22). “How could He be the Messiah?” Rather than respond favorably to His offer, in Luke 4:23 Jesus predicted they would recite to Him a proverb that questions a person’s power and authority: “Physician, heal thyself.” Instead of responding to His offer, they asked Him to perform a miracle such as those they had probably heard about from His earlier ministry in Judea and Capernaum. By this point, Jesus had already turned water into wine and healed the nobleman’s son. Out of mere curiosity, they wanted to see a miracle but not transform their lives through genuine spiritual responsiveness.

Not accepted at home

Jesus then explained that prophets are seldom fully trusted back home (Luke 4:24). Jesus recited a proverbial expression that placed Him in the long line of prophets who were rejected by their people. What led to their rejecting Him was His noting examples of two Old Testament prophets, Elijah and Elisha, who performed miracles for Gentiles during an age of Israelite apostasy (Luke 4:25-27).

This was more than they could stand so they arose in wrath (Luke 4:28). Their rage had been building as they sat listening to Him but now it boiled over. They were not slow to see how Jesus applied these Old Testament stories to them. He inferred they were just as apostate as Israelites in the time of Elijah and Elisha. Instead of accepting the message to repent of their sins, they chose to destroy the messenger. Familiarity had bred contempt for one of their own. 

To accept His words meant they would have to accept that God offered salvation to Gentiles whom they looked down upon as “dogs.” They were unwilling to humble their hearts. Their fierce, nationalistic pride and bigotry resented the thought of God’s blessing faith-filled Gentiles in the time of Elijah and Elisha. In effect, Jesus had compared his townsfolk to their unbelieving ancestors. Jesus even gave them another opportunity about a year later but instead they were offended in Him. As a result, He did not work many mighty miracles in his hometown (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:5). At the time, even His siblings did not believe in Him (John 7:5).

In Luke 4:29, these congregants led Him to the brow of a hill overlooking Nazareth, intending to cast Him down headfirst and then stone Him to death for blasphemy. This was contrary to Jewish custom that forbad execution without trial and forbad it being conducted on the Sabbath. Not only that, but Roman law required the governor’s permission before executing one of their own. They were acting like a lynch mob. In Luke 4:30-32, Jesus miraculously passed through their midst and continued His ministry in Capernaum. His time of sacrificial death had not yet come (John 7:30). Many elsewhere became His disciples. Jesus lived this proverbial expression: “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house”  (Matthew 13:57 KJV).


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Course Spotlight: A Sign from God

There are many instances in the Bible where God’s people ask Him for a sign. Does God want us to look for signs for Him in everything that we do?

Course Spotlight From The Life, Teachings, and Ministry of Jesus Christ: (Unit 3) The Judean Ministry

Forum Summary: Hollywood’s Marxist Propaganda

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 3 seconds.

Mr. Michael Brown pastors two congregations in Saskatchewan, Canada. He spoke to the students about communism and the influence of Marx’s ideologies on modern society. Mr. Armstrong called communism “worldwide psychological warfare.” In 1956, he wrote, “We are not fighting a single nation in a military war, but a gigantic worldwide, plain-clothes army, masquerading as a political party… [It will] weaken us from within… destroying our spiritual and religious life…” After World War II, Mr. Armstrong believed Russia would not attack the West militarily, but psychologically. Communism—or leftism—did not disappear with the dismantling of many communist governments in the twentieth century. As Mr. Armstrong predicted, communism simply took a new form.

What is Neo-Marxism?

Mr. Brown asked, “But what is Neo-Marxism—or leftism—and what is it we can do to protect ourselves?” He gave seven short points on Marxism, taken directly from the leftist “bible,” The Communist Manifesto—the third most assigned textbook in American universities.

First, communism “promotes change through radical action.” Marx believed the solution to historic class struggles in society was the violent overthrow of the rich. Another core goal of Marxism is the “doing away of private property.” Marx claimed that if the working man rebelled against the rich, all wealth would be handed over to the state, ushering in the dictatorship of the working man. Third, communism reflects Marx’s hate for families. Marx wrote about removing “the two bases of traditional marriage—the dependence rooted in private property, of the women on the man, and of the children on the parents.” He believed the traditional family model treated women and children like “oppressed factory workers.” Mr. Brown that communism dissolves distinct nationalities. “Marx believed the working man had no country.” Fifth, communism brings the destruction of all religion, truth, morality, and tradition. Marx wrote, “Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality… [It] acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.” Finally, Marx aimed to bring world peace by establishing a utopian world via government. He believed revolution was justified by its results.

“Of all the arts, cinema is most important to us.”

– Vladimir Lenin

During Russia’s Bolshevik rule, Vladimir Lenin promoted his revolutionary agenda by equipping trains with propaganda movies, sending them throughout the country. Joseph Goebbels was Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. He controlled the German film industry during the Nazi period. In 1941, Goebbels commissioned the film I Accuse, in which a woman convinces her husband to poison her to end her suffering from multiple sclerosis. This film was designed to inspire sympathy for Aktion T4—a program that authorized certain physicians to euthanize patients. Hundreds of thousands of injured or sick people were murdered as a result.

“We all know who the first revolutionary was—an angel named Lucifer.” Today, Satan uses Marx’s ideas to tear down a nation’s belief structure, including the tradition of the family and a belief in God. Mr. Brown emphasized one of the major avenues for this psychological attack is the entertainment industry. Hollywood has weaponized Marx’s ideas to reshape people’s attitudes and pervert their morals. Genesis 19:1 describes the gates of Sodom. Mr. Brown asked, “What types of things do you think you would see at these gates? Today, those gates live in our pockets, our bedrooms, and our living rooms.”

Modern Gates of Sodom and Gomorrah

Christians are to “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:23-24). Mr. Brown encouraged the students to analyze the entertainment they absorb for subtle narratives. For example, Rudy, “one of the ultimate underdog films of all time,” falsely portrays the authority figures in Rudy’s life as harsh and unmerciful. In Star Wars, the villains are authoritative and ordered, an evil father tries to destroy his son, and Luke is advised to trust in his feelings—not guidance from wise mentors. “So often in movies,” Mr. Brown said, “good qualities are given to the bad guys and bad qualities are given to the good guys.” Even seemingly innocent children’s movies, like Finding Nemo or Happy Feet, contain subtle, ungodly propaganda. “The audience begins to reshape their personal reality to reflect the reality of the characters and the narrative of the film. As we develop affection for the characters, it can lead to us being accepting of their wrong behaviors.”

What can we do to protect ourselves?

2 Corinthians 6:14 reads, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” Christians can accidentally fellowship with characters on a screen. Mr. Brown explained even virtual, evil company will corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). “Hollywood and the entertainment industry are the biggest propaganda tools in the world.” While God teaches blessings follow obedience and curses follow disobedience, the entertainment industry lies, showing curses for obedience and blessings for disobedience. Mr. Brown encouraged the students to replace the Hollywood propaganda in their life with wholesome pastimes that impart wisdom and knowledge.


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Course Spotlight: Easter or Passover?

In some of our online courses, we have a “Student Thoughts” section where we ask a question to see what the students think. In our course on the Biblical Passover, we asked the question:

If you had to defend why you don’t keep Easter, and the reasons you keep the Passover to someone in the world, how would you explain your beliefs in a concise way while keeping in mind the principle from Matthew 10:16, “be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”?

Take a look at some of the responses below!


I would politely explain that I kept the Feasts God instructed us to keep, as we were instructed in the pages of the Bible. This would give me an opportunity to explain my joy of finding the answer to what had always puzzled me even as a child since I could count — How I could not reconcile Friday crucifixion and Sunday morning as being three and one half days, and that I also found how rabbits and eggs sneaked into the picture…Depending on my listener’s reaction I would also add the prophecy Christ Himself gave of Jonah and the fish.”

-MS

If I were confronted about why I keep the Passover instead of Easter, I would explain that I keep the Feasts and Holy Days that Christ and the Disciples kept in the New Testament. I would explain that Easter is not in the Bible and if it is, it is a mistranslation of the word Pascha which means Passover. Also God tells us that He will not accept pagan rituals in worship of Him and when people keep the traditions of Easter, they are not keeping God’s commandment to keep the Passover. They are in fact worshiping a fertility goddess called Eostre who’s origin is pagan. I would tell them to do some research on the origin of Easter.”

-AL

My defense for observing Passover instead of Easter would be that mathematics rules out my observance of Easter. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus said, ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ Easter keepers are saying that Jesus was in the heart of the earth only two nights and one day, which is only half of the time He stated would prove him to be the Messiah. Concisely stated, I observe Passover because I really do believe that Christ was the promised Messiah, who now sits at the right hand of the Father as our intercessor. Stated another way, if Easter depicts the actual time between Christ’s burial and His resurrection, we have no Savior!”

-RM

Assembly Summary: Build Your House

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 38 seconds.

Mr. Lawdi Ferreira spoke to Living Ed students over a Webex video conference. Table Mountain—one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World—towered above Cape Town in Mr. Ferreira’s virtual background. “I’m using this to attract you to come to Cape Town for the Feast.” Mr. Ferreira has three kids, and he pastors congregations in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He began, “I want to start off by telling a story of a builder.”

There was a master builder who decided to retire to enjoy a more relaxed life. But when he approached his boss about retiring, he was asked to build one more house as a personal favor. He agreed, and he began to build one last home. Yet his heart was not in his work, and he constructed the house poorly. When he finished, to his surprise, his boss handed him the keys to the house—it was a final gift to the builder.

“There is so much meaning in that story for you and me. You and I are building our spiritual houses right now.” Yet, Mr. Ferreira explained, God offers the help the students will need to build a strong spiritual life. 1 Corinthians 3:9-10 reads, “… you are God’s building… But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” Mr. Ferreira said, “I would like to give you three keys to help you build a strong spiritual house.

Build on the Right Foundation

Young people can be full of exciting dreams of what they want to do in their future. Mr. Ferreira called it “a wonderful time of life.” He advised the students to recognize this period as crucial—their future decisions hinge on the choices they make now. A Christian’s foundation should be Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). Mr. Ferreira asked, “How do you ensure that you build on Christ?” He turned to Luke 6:46-48, where Christ defined the man who built his house on a rock as the man who heard and lived by His sayings. Mr. Ferreira encouraged the students to build their foundation by examining their choice of movies, music, games, social media, friends, conversation, and career choices and ask, Would Christ approve?

Don’t Compromise

When Mr. Ferreira was nineteen, he and a friend went to the U.K. to work and save for college. Yet every job he applied to required him to work on the Sabbath. His friend pushed him to compromise, and on their third day in London, he had only seven dollars left. That day, he found a job that would accommodate the Sabbath. “God was testing me to the end—but, interestingly, I never had that trial again there.” Learning not to compromise can be “an expensive lesson to learn.” Matthew 6:33 contains a Christian’s foremost mission—to seek the Kingdom—and nothing should compromise that goal. But, Mr. Ferreira emphasized, “God will give the outcome, just don’t compromise.”

Look Ahead to Your Future

The marshmallow test famously assesses a child’s ability to delay gratification: a child is told he can have one marshmallow now, or two later if he waits. Mr. Ferreira’s son was given this test. The teacher told him he could have two marshmallows if he waited until after a conversation. Later, Mr. Ferreira was told his son—while he didn’t hear a word of the conversation—waited and passed the test. “Our ability to sacrifice the present for the future is very crucial.” Human nature makes people “want what they want and want it now.” Just as Esau sold his birthright for some stew (Genesis 25:29-34), Christians can lose sight of what is truly valuable. “The world that Satan creates is very attractive,” like a cardboard box iced with frosting to appear like a cake. 2 Peter 2:15-21 speaks of Christians who return and entangle themselves with the sins of the world. “We shouldn’t pass by our eternal reward for a short-term reward Satan offers.”

“Make sure you build without regret.”

Mr. Ferreira quoted Annie Dillard: “The way you live your days is the way you live your life.” He exhorted the students to use the opportunity they have in the Church of God now to build a foundation, to stand up in obedience to God without compromise, and to keep their eyes focused on the future. “Yours and my life in God’s Kingdom will be a result of our decisions and attitudes today—it will be a result of how we build our house.”


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Forum Summary: Africa

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 45 seconds.

“Today, I’d like to enlarge your view of the world.” Mr. Peter Nathan, the Regional Director of Europe, Africa, and the U.K gave a Forum on the Work in Africa. Some may think of exotic wildlife or the Sahara when they think of this continent. But Mr. Nathan said, “Let me present to you a different view.” Africa represents twenty percent of the land area of the earth. “What does that mean to you and me?” This “continent of extremes” can fit the U.S.A, Japan, China, India, Mexico, and several European countries inside its borders. Mr. Nathan covered the three major spheres of operation for the Church in Africa.

Southern Africa

Mr. Nathan explained that southern Africa “can make you can feel like you’ve experienced the Kingdom of God ahead of time,” as some who have kept the Feast there can confirm. But it is also a region where an entire congregation can be incarcerated on the way home from services. Bordered by Zambia and Malawi in the north and the Cape in the south, this region was introduced to the World Tomorrow in the 60s, when it aired from stations in the Congo and Mozambique. The first baptizing tour in the region occurred in 1961, and an office in Johannesburg was set up in 1963. By the time Mr. Nathan was sent to the region in 1973, there were four congregations in Zimbabwe and six in South Africa, with members scattered around the region. Today, there are 190 members, eleven congregations, three regular Feast sites, and a summer Living Youth Program.

Eastern Africa

“We can focus on the center point: Lake Victoria.” Lake Victoria is the third largest body of freshwater in the world and is a major source of water for Egypt and eastern Africa. In 1975, Mr. Armstrong visited President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya. From 1975 to the present, the Church has grown in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. There are now 300-600 attendees, 29 congregations, and sixteen elders, with four Feast sites and an annual Living Youth Program in Kenya.

Central and Western Africa

In 1960, two radio stations in Sierra Leone and Nigeria projected Mr. Armstrong’s voice across central and western Africa. While the station in Nigeria brought a healthy response, the broadcast from Sierra Leone did not. Mr. Nathan shared a story: In 1961, a wealthy magistrate in Nigeria wrote to Pasadena asking, Please, come and baptize me and my nineteen wives. Several years later, this man was baptized. Ghana saw its first baptizing tour in 1971, and, two years later, after a civil war, a baptizing tour was conducted in Nigeria. In 1969, a man from eastern Ghana, after listening to the broadcast and studying the Church’s literature, started a congregation following the teachings of Mr. Armstrong. Today, this association has grown to include congregations in Togo, Benin, and Ghana, with an attendance of around 1,700. In 2019, LCG became aware of the group as it uses an identical name in the French language—Mr. Nathan said, “We’ll see what happens.”

Elders

Mr. Juvenal Karibwami speaks French, English, Romanian, and Swahili and serves as an elder in Burundi. In western Africa, Dr. Akin-Ogudeji serves as the area pastor. Mr. Urbain Hazoume, another non-employed elder, was educated in France. He runs a private school he established in Gabon, and his uncle is a king in Badagry, on the border of Nigeria and Benin. Mr. Jackstone Abok is retired and lives in Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria. Mr. Nathan introduced two farmers from Tanzania who serve the Church: Mr. Ezekiel Mkama and Mr. Adonias Kando. In Nairobi, Mr. Peter Mutula serves as an elder. Mr. Ephraim Abok is the area pastor for western Kenya, while Mr. Simon Muthama is the area pastor for the rest of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Opportunities and Challenges

In the 1950s, Andrew Dugger, “driven by the need to preach the Gospel throughout the world,” began teaching in Africa. Various Church of God Seventh Day Jerusalem congregations were established. Some of these congregations stayed faithful, not only to the Sabbath but to the Holy Days and other true doctrines. After the death of Andrew Dugger, many congregations, including Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi were left without leadership. In the 90s, one of these congregations in Kenya contacted LCG. Mr. Nathan said, “Increasingly, we find people associated with Worldwide coming to us, because we are continuing to teach the truth they were once taught.”

A significant challenge to the Work in Africa is “the elephant in the room: Islam.” Mr. Nathan drew attention to the fact that he had not mentioned northern Africa. He explained there is little opportunity for the truth in this heavily Muslim region. This is why the Sierra Leone radio station broadcasting the World Tomorrow in the 60s didn’t bring much response. Islam dominates in the north, but, as the fastest-growing religion in Africa, it is fast spreading to the rest of the continent. “Islam is going to create a challenge as we go forward… We need to recognize that the time is short with some of these areas.” Other challenges for the Church in Africa include language translation, religion, travel dangers, and inconsistent technology infrastructure.

God Is Doing a Work

“We have lots of challenges, but God is doing a Work here.” Going forward, Mr. Nathan said Church literature could be translated into Swahili—there are 150 million Swahili speakers who can benefit from this project. The Work and the Church are alive and active in Africa, with hundreds of members spread across the southern, eastern, western, and central regions of the country. Mr. Nathan, with a long history of serving the Church in Africa, concluded, “Having been sent to Africa, I don’t seem to be able to get it out of my blood.”


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Course Spotlight: How Did Jesus Die?

In the Church of God, we have long understood, quite correctly, that most texts of Matthew’s Gospel now omit a key line depicting a soldier spearing the crucified Christ and thus killing Him violently. Yet, even what is present in the rest of the Gospel accounts may in fact reveal more than we might at first notice. Could some of the answer be lost in translation?

Course Spotlight From The Life, Ministry, and Teachings of Jesus Christ: (Unit 4) Passover to the Resurrection