Family Picnic

Author: Hyabiel Daniel | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

On a sunny Sunday, the Charlotte congregation’s annual fall picnic took place at Cane Creek Park. The day was filled with laughter, bright smiles, and the warmth of friendship. Each family brought homemade dishes, adding to the feeling of unity at the event.

The dedicated LE students also joined in, ready for a fun-filled day and the chance to make new friends. This was a welcome break from their usual routine of studying! The picnic kicked off at 9:30 in the morning and ran until late evening. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, there was plenty of food to go around.

Lunchtime brought a wave of togetherness. Everyone shared stories over their meals, creating a comfortable and connected atmosphere.

At 13:00, when lunch ended, everyone split up to take part in different activities. Volleyball was a favorite among the crowd. The kids, full of energy, claimed the nearby playground, while some chose a peaceful walk on the beautiful nature trail.

As the sun started setting, the activities slowly wrapped up. Everyone left with joy in their hearts and stronger connections with one another. It was certainly a day that will be remembered fondly.

Hyabiel Daniel is a first-year Living Education Student. She is from London, United Kingdom, and typically attends the Seven Oaks Congregation. She enjoys studying social sciences and also loves spending time reading books, baking, and spending time with loved ones.

The Power of Perspective

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

Perspective is the way we view and interpret the things around us. 

In a recent forum, ministerial trainee Mr. James Populo explained to the students the concept of perspectives. Our perspective depends highly on our personal background and on our visual filters, which are also called baggage. Baggage impacts how we understand scenarios around us, and by extension, the way we react to situations and decisions we make. 

Our physical nature as humans causes us to have a physical perspective. This is what causes us to see situations in a shallow manner. 

Rather than our ineffective and inherently flawed perspective, we need to have humility and aim to see our lives through God’s eyes. As written in the book of Isaiah,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

God thinks on a higher plane than we do, and we can’t fully understand it. But even though we don’t, that doesn’t mean that we can’t try. After all, a major part of being a Christian is following the example of God and Christ to adopt Their way of thinking, and that includes Their perspectives. We must aim to follow the example of God and Christ and to obey the Commandments.

Perspective can be changed. 

A great way to start doing the process of changing our viewpoint is to apply the interpersonal communication method of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. This philosophy can be seen throughout both the Old and New Testaments, which shows the weight of this principle throughout all eras in history. 

In the Old Testament:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;

And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;

For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,

And the Lord will reward you” (Prov 25:21-22).

And in the New Testament:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matt 5:43-44).

These scriptures both emphasize changing our perspectives to one of showing love toward our enemies. This concept goes directly against human nature, and it is not something we normally would do. Despite that, it is a command from God. This goes to prove God’s higher level of wisdom.

We should recognize our natural human perspectives and compare them with those of God. Look at their view and have empathy. Feel and understand someone’s pain. Doing this requires that we switch our perspective to theirs.

Man normally does things according to their own eyes.

A Biblical example of this can be found in the book of 1st Samuel. In the story, the prophet Samuel’s process for selecting Israel’s new king was outlined. Samuel, although a prophet, had a human perspective. When choosing a son of Jesse to reign over the nation of Israel, he went with the tallest, most attractive man as his pick for king. However, this was not the way he was supposed to do it, and God let him know it. God does not see as man sees.

God chose the son with the smallest physique but the best heart. This is God’s perspective.

David’s anointing illustrates how God’s perspective differs from man’s, and shows the wisdom of God with His highly superior way of thinking. God saw the heart willing to do God’s will. 

We tend to judge based on appearance and interpersonal skills, and these judgements are parsed through our filters and baggage. Simply put, we have a physical perspective because we are physical humans.

What we learn from this story is the importance of not making judgements based on our own human limited perspective. We must use a spiritual perspective, inspired through God’s influence, and zoom out by looking at situations as they are in full.

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).

The tough part is starting the process toward changing our ways. Applying the Fruits of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23, however, is a great way to start. These provide the core concepts on how to change our behavior, which, if paired with diligent effort and Bible study, will make the process much easier. 

Work daily at it, and don’t lose heart. Changing perspective takes time.

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.

Bible Quiz: Test Your Knowledge on some facts about Judean Ministry!

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

How much do you know about trivia surrounding the time of the Judean Ministry? Use the link below to take this fun quiz and find out!

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.

An Opportunity for Success

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6)

Mr. Elliot introduced his forum with this encouraging scripture from Philippians. Although the world is in chaos, a lot of what goes on in the world should be background noise to what’s important and imperative to our spiritual lives. A good gauge of what’s important to us as LivingEd-Charlotte students comes from asking ourselves why we came to the program in general.  

Past and Present

The same core values that have encouraged Living Education students to attend the program are what encouraged Ambassador College students to attend that college: Recognition of the need for stable foundations and desire to grow in a relationship with our Father.

Although the students had similar mindsets, Ambassador College was originally founded with a slightly different intent than that of Living Ed: It was developed to train ministers and their wives. However, as more and more students attended, far surpassing the number needed for the ministry, it became a training ground for church pillars. This goal of training pillars to serve in the church continues through the work of Living Education-Charlotte today. 

Despite arriving with high aspirations, some Ambassador College students led lives after college that were very different from what they learned, leaving behind all the precious gems of knowledge they spent so much time learning in school.

We may assume that someone with as solid a foundation as the one Ambassador College provided would have unwavering faith. However, even some students who attended there would go on to leave God’s Church.  It’s important for Living Education students to consider precisely why they are attending the program and avoid suffering the same fate as those Ambassador college students. 

Unique Benefits of Living Education-Charlotte

  • Students in LivingEd can see firsthand that God’s Work is being done during their time at Headquarters. Most people don’t have this opportunity.
  • The Living Church of God is not about profit or efficiency, but on learning, growing, and being more Christlike.
  • The Church works with people and it has its own culture. We need to learn and become part of that culture.

We have an opportunity that most people don’t have, and we should consider it a blessing.While we’re here, we can learn from people who are living life according to God’s way, observing the decisions they make and asking them questions. This way, we can avoid making  mistakes that others have learned from and benefit from their godly advice.

The primary purpose of LivingEd is not to teach technical career-oriented skills. Rather, it can provide a foundation in Godly living and help us to develop connections with a wide variety of Church members. We must recognize and appreciate that LivingEd gives us an opportunity to fully internalize that God’s way works.

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.

Establish Your Pillars

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

Mr. Smith started his forum with a warning: his speech was going to be on a topic that can be difficult to cover. 

This topic can come across as philosophical, because it requires clear thinking, developing thoughts, and determining if those thoughts are sound. All of this involves a lot of self examination. 

The idea of philosophy can have a negative connotation due to the fact that philosophical ideas sometimes lead people towards ungodly ways of thinking. In reality though, not all philosophical thought is bad. After all, philosophy is essentially the study and love of wisdom. Understanding philosophy can help a person to think clearly, develop thoughts and take the time to consider them.

The topic Mr. Smith  spoke on was worldviews

A worldview is a particular philosophy of life and personal conception of the world. The reason this topic is so heavy is because,based on that very definition, our worldview directly impacts our opinions, beliefs and the way we operate on a daily basis. 

There are countless topics that we have opinions on.

These very same opinions can have drastic effects on the outcomes of our lives. From topics as simple as our favorite shows to those as complicated as the religion we believe in, our opinions guide our behaviors, which then impact our habits and lifestyles.

Although these opinions are often considered and may seem like something that is built into one’s personality, beliefs can change. Although it doesn’t happen often, change can occur through an alteration to personal actions or through an outside force that changes them somehow. Sometimes, our beliefs and overall worldview are perfectly acceptable. Often, however, there is an extreme need for a change of direction.

Mr. Smith himself experienced a drastic metamorphosis in worldviews. He grew up with a belief system that mirrored those of the people around him and the attitudes portrayed in the media he consumed. A lot of these beliefs were formed because of TV shows that covertly pushed boundaries in order to promote lifestyles of debauchery. 

The majority of the time, like in Mr. Smith’s case, worldview is something obtained subconsciously. It can develop from entertainment, from friends and relatives, and from society around us in general. 

Our beliefs form our worldview.

Belief could be something that you don’t control, but it will definitely control you. This is dangerous, because our thoughts, controlled or not, turn into worldview.

This directly impacts how you live your life and all the decisions you make.

Some common and incredibly popular beliefs, due in large part to a cumulation of Satan’s influence in the world being considered increasingly acceptable, are that the material world is all there is, and that natural law governs all things. The name of this worldview is Naturalistic Materialism. This worldview in education is making these views more prevalent in the world among youth. An example of this lack of morality in schools and in entertainment has its effects on the world in general.

Without taking control over your belief systems and letting the pull of society guide you, it is very possible to be swayed by these opinions which are becoming alarmingly common. Conclusions from these philosophies are that there is no free will and that there is no morality!

Don’t take the power of worldview lightly. 

To counter the sway of society around us, it is critical to put serious and extensive thought into what you believe and why exactly you believe it. A great first step is to consider your personal pillars, which are the beliefs upon which your entire life is based upon. Without the stability of one of those pillars, the rest of your “foundation” will come crumbling down. 

It is important to make sure that those pillars are God-centered.

Mr. Smith’s personal pillars are :

1) God exists. If not, then why does anything we do even matter?

2) Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Knowing and believing this makes Jesus’s own belief in the Bible enough, this proves the Bible.

3) The Bible is the inspired word of God. 

Having strong biblically-based pillars is crucial to living a fruitful life. This is the very basis on which we build our Christian lives. Putting thought into these fundamental beliefs is necessary to avoid letting our unchecked subconscious control our reality.

We are to ask ourselves not only what our pillars are, but why exactly these are our pillars. Without that knowledge, our lives will be controlled by the influences of society without us even being aware of it. 

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.

Learn From A Cloud Of Witnesses To Finish The Race

Author: Hyabiel Daniel | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

Building a strong, intimate relationship with God while maintaining discipline involves making conscious choices and demonstrating unwavering commitment.

In this forum, Mr. Hernandez explored the significance of dedicating time to God and persevering through life’s trials by drawing inspiration from the life of Daniel and insights from the Psalms

Daniel’s Example & The Greatest Law

Daniel and his friends serve as shining examples of individuals who remained steadfast in their commitment to God despite facing numerous challenges and trials. One of the key takeaways from their lives is their unwavering devotion to prayer, studying God’s word, and spending quality time in communion with Him. They embodied the greatest law – loving God with all their heart and mind – and allowed this love to guide their actions.

Elect Few & Martha and Mary’s Story

Scripture teaches that God selects a chosen few to receive His blessings and spiritual insights, making it a precious treasure worth pursuing. It’s a reminder not to overlook this remarkable opportunity, as it can profoundly shape our spiritual journey. In the account of Martha and Mary, we see a clear distinction between the choices they made regarding their time. Mary’s decision to prioritize spending time with Jesus illustrates the importance of our choices in allocating time for our relationship with God. This choice is particularly pertinent given that we will inevitably encounter trials of faith.

Endurance in Tribulation & The Power of Psalm 27

The concept of enduring trials is exemplified by references to tribulations, including famine and adversity. It emphasizes that God’s protective care also requires active effort on our part. Romans 24:35 reminds us that even in the face of potential persecution, we must remain steadfast. King David’s secret to resilience was his deep, personal relationship with God. This connection sustained him through life’s trials, including after moments of sin. Additionally, the Holy Spirit serves as our indispensable helper and guide on our spiritual journey.

Delving into the study of God’s word is a fundamental aspect of nurturing our relationship with Him. This practice allows us to cultivate a heart aligned with God’s own heart, unlocking the wondrous insights and wisdom contained within His teachings. The transformative power of God’s word penetrates every facet of our being, equipping us to endure trials with a solid spiritual foundation. Psalm 27:58 serves as a heartfelt plea for God’s mercy, demonstrating the importance of steadfastness during challenging times.

The Glory of the Lord & David’s Relationship with God

Psalm 8 magnificently captures the splendor of God’s creation and harks back to the beginning of all things. King David’s profound relationship with God empowered him to face the formidable giant Goliath without fear. Additionally, practices such as prayer and fasting played significant roles in his spiritual journey.

In conclusion, Psalm 2:12 encourages us to embrace discipline and seek wisdom. Additionally, we are reminded to find rest in God’s presence, as beautifully articulated in passages like Matthew 11 and Psalm 91. By drawing from the wisdom of Daniel’s commitment and the transformative power of the Psalms, Mr. Hernandez reminds us that to be able to grow toward spiritual resilience and a deeper relationship with our Creator we must be able to make conscious decisions such as making time for God that includes praying, fasting, and meditating.

Hyabiel Daniel is a first-year Living Education Student. She is from London, United Kingdom, and typically attends the Seven Oaks Congregation. She enjoys studying social sciences and also loves spending time reading books, baking, and spending time with loved ones.

Student Life: Beach Day

Author: Hyabiel Daniel  | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

This past Sunday was nothing short of fantastic as a group of Living Education students decided to soak up the sun and sea. They traded their textbooks for swimsuits and embarked on an unforgettable beach adventure that left them with a treasure trove of memories. The day began with an air of anticipation as they gathered at the crack of dawn, armed with sunscreen, beach towels, and, of course, our adventurous spirits. The sun was peeking over the horizon as they arrived at the sandy oasis. The beauty of the beach in the early morning was breathtaking, and it set the tone for the exciting day ahead. The first step onto the warm, sandy shore starkly contrasted with the usual classroom, reminding them that the day’s purpose was to break free from the academic routine and embrace the simple joys of life. The calming symphony of ocean waves provided a natural backdrop to their day. They unfurled beach blankets, set up colorful umbrellas, and divided into groups, each choosing their path to enjoyment. Some even took an immediate plunge into the refreshing ocean. As the morning gracefully transformed into the afternoon, they assembled for a communal beachfront picnic, which consisted of homemade sandwiches, fruits, and chips. Post-lunch activities included seashell hunting, ocean exploration, and the construction of intricate sandcastles. Reluctantly leaving the beach that evening, their hearts were full enjoying the ride back home. They returned to their studies the following day, brimming with memories and the joy of shared experiences.

Hyabiel Daniel is a first-year Living Education Student. She is from London, United Kingdom, and typically attends the Seven Oaks Congregation. She enjoys studying social sciences and also loves spending time reading books, baking, and spending time with loved ones.

Living Education 2022-23 in Review

Building a Personal Library

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

“And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12)

Mr. Rand Millich began his forum by reading this scripture from the book of Ecclesiastes. Through this quote, he explained that writers of the early centuries wrote in both the secular world at the time, as well as in writings from God that were preserved as part of scripture. 

These old books were often etchings or written on scrolls. Writing in this manner involved painstakingly long procedures, so authors guaranteed that any literature produced would be of the highest standard.

With the invention of the printing press, however, literature has been able to be mass produced. Due to this advancement in technology, there is almost no end to the amount of material we have at our disposal. The overall quality of reading material has gone in a steep decline, and some books are able to be pointless time wasters. 

How, then, are we to find books that have true value? Which books are useful and edifying? 

There are many works of literature that have the ability to act as a foundation for profitable study, as well as give access to information that can deepen our understanding of the Bible.

In order to find it, though, it is important to carefully consider the material being provided in any work of literature. In doing so, finding valuable literature becomes possible. 

Mr. Millich provided a list of books that influenced his own life and are part of his personal library, and encouraged us to build a personal library of works that will have a positive influence on our knowledge, character, and behavior. 

The following books were not always perfectly accurate, but they were foundational for further study and more accurate information.

Challenge your inner nerd. 

Here are the books that Mr. Millich determined were some of the most valuable in his collection. 

Biblical foundations: 

  • The Bible 
  • Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong
  • Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger
  • Halley’s Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley
  • Baker’s Bible Atlas by Charles F. Pfeiffer
  • Religions in America by Leo Rosten
  • A Harmony of the Gospels by A.T Robertson
  • The Books and the Parchments by F.F. Bruce
  • The Life and Epistles of St. Paul by W.J.Conybeare and J.S.Howson
  • The Story of the Christian Church by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
  • Antiquities of the Jews by Flavious Josephus
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (especially Chapter 15) by Edward Gibbon
  • The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop
  • The Encyclopedia of History by William Langer

Other books of further interest:

  • The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilius translated by Christian Cruse
  • The Little Journeys by Elbert Hubbard
  • The Notebook of Elbert Hubbard by Elbert Hubbard
  • The Annals of World History by James Usher
  • The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett
  • The Moral Compass by William J. Bennett
  • The Genesis Flood by John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris

Regardless of who we are or the background we have, these books can be useful in providing us with knowledge that can allow us to grow as potential members of the family of God. 

In addition to good content, it’s important that the means through which we read are appropriate as well. 

Mr. Millich presented print reading as the optimal method of reading. It allows us to slow down, apply critical thinking, appreciate beauty, discern truth, and gives time to apply deep and sophisticated reading. Although reading in print is usually preferable, reading online or digital materials can definitely be convenient and cost-efficient. 

Each method of reading has its place, so it’s important to consider what your goal is when reading a particular piece of literature.

Ultimately, the best books are the ones that mean the most to us.

The books that we find profitable and want to read are the books we typically spend the majority of our time on. It’s important to determine which books are the most important to us, because if we don’t like or want to read them, they could just take up space on our shelves. The books we don’t read will not impact us the way the books we choose to read do.

We are all influenced by outside sources. Oftentimes, it’s a combination of individuals we have known and the materials we have read. Not everything is always true or of value, but these sources of inspiration act as the foundations to our very personalities. 

It’s crucial to find what’s most important to us, and feed ourselves with knowledge that’s good.

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.

Making the Most of Living Education

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

In the latest forum, Mr. Strain began by asking the students to think back to when they applied for Living Education.

In these applications, the students outlined reasons they wanted to attend the program. He then asked us to compare our answers to how we live our daily life now that the program had begun. How well are  we living up to these goals? 

He provided a summary of the LE students’ reasons for wanting to attend the program. They were: 

  1. Become grounded in church teachings and improve spiritual life
  2. Learn lesson that will guide their lives
  3. Prepare for a future family
  4. Form relationships with young people of like mind and make friends
  5. Experience being part of the work of God at headquarters in Charlotte
  6. Be surrounded by others with similar goals
  7. Prepare for ultimate success in the future
  8. Prepare for personal and professional life based on the Bible
  9. Build confidence in interacting with others
  10. Acquire skills to become a Godly leader

Living Ed is giving us a chance to accomplish those goals. The material is in our grasp. How exactly, though, should we go about trying to accomplish them day-to-day? To answer that question, he offered a few key principles  to consider.

Stay committed and focused on your goals. 

Living up to the goals we set is more difficult than just writing out beautiful sounding words.Mr. Strain suggested that we try to fully internalize that we have been presented with a 9 month window of opportunity. Having a sense of urgency is crucial when it comes to once in a lifetime chances like the one we were given. 

“It will pass quickly,” he warned, “so every moment is one to take advantage of.” 

Aim to do what we should do before we do what we want to.

He explained that in life, and in this school year in particular, day to day activities end up being around 80% grunt work and 20% fun.

(But with Mr. McNair in charge, it may end up being 90% work and 10% fun!)

For people in any field, the hard work must be done before true leisurely work can be done. He stressed to the students to avoid letting the amount of work make us overwhelmed or demoralized, and to know that leisure will happen. Even if the work gets difficult, fun times will occur as well. 

An additional point he made is that for some, this is the first taste of freedom they’ve ever had. No parental supervision, no one constantly over their shoulders, and no one to make decisions for them but themselves. 

Attending LivingEd requires self discipline. 

Part of becoming an adult is to have prudence, and learning how to manage time and resources, as well as taking care of the physical state, are all components of that. As an example, he provided a quote by Ben Franklin:“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

A part of having effective time management is to seek God’s guidance DAILY in everything. Nothing is more important than personal study and prayer, and it can’t be replaced with some other form of study- even instruction in class is no substitute.

Develop effective communication skills 

The students were implored to get to know our class instructors, work supervisors, headquarters staff, and fellow students. If we need advice or help, these are the people to look for.

He reminded the students that our words, both spoken and written, are powerful tools, but can also be dangerous weapons if used incorrectly. In spoken communication, it is critical to be mindful of vocal tones and inflections, because those can cause misinterpretation of the message trying to be communicated. He also emphasized the danger of written communication such as texting, because once the message is sent, it can’t be taken back.

Make good friends

A final point that Mr. Strain made to help the LivingEd students succeed at accomplishing our goals is to make friends. As shown in Proverbs 18:24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. 

Today, such a friend is called a best friend, and although it’s impossible  to be best friends with everyone, we can aim to be as close with as many students as possible. 

Certainly, being in God’s Church could enable having multiple true friends. Being surrounded by others with similar goals makes that process much easier.  However, finding one who sticks closer than a brother is a true blessing, so that is something we can aim to put effort into as well.

These nine months are a serious time. It’s imperative for us to make the most of it.  We were encouraged to think about personally being fertile ground where the sower is scattering seed in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, which will produce much fruit.

Mr. Strain finished the forum with the following powerful closing statement, which the students will be sure to hold on to for the duration of the year.

“Study hard, work hard, and you will have time and occasion to play hard. Success is yours to choose.”

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.