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.

Every Little Thing Counts

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

In a recent forum led by Mr. Bonjour for LivingEd students, a powerful message was conveyed: Every member of the church, regardless of their perceived strength or stature, plays a vital role in the work of God.

Drawing inspiration from 1 Corinthians 12:15, Mr. Bonjour shared an anecdote from 1962 when President John F. Kennedy visited NASA and encountered a janitor who believed he was contributing to the monumental task of putting a man on the moon. This story beautifully illustrated how even seemingly small contributions can make a significant difference.

Unity and Purpose:

Mr. Bonjour emphasized that, just like the janitor at NASA, we each have a meaningful role within the Body of Christ (the church). He underscored the importance of leaving things better than we found them and highlighted that every part of the body has a unique purpose and value.

Effective Communication:

One crucial aspect of fulfilling our roles within the church is effective communication. Mr. Bonjour stressed that understanding others’ needs and ways of operating requires clear communication. Without it, misunderstandings, disagreements, and resentments can quickly arise. He encouraged positive confrontations as a means to improve difficult situations and foster harmony.

Optimizing Our Time:

Time is a precious resource, and it’s essential that we use it wisely. Mr. Bonjour reminded us of Ecclesiastes 9:10, urging us to make the most of every opportunity. He acknowledged that life’s challenges can sometimes overwhelm us, but he emphasized that for every problem, God provides a solution. He invoked Ecclesiastes 10:10, highlighting the value of continuous learning and the importance of sharing knowledge with others.

Honoring Others:

To maintain unity and minimize friction, Mr. Bonjour referenced Romans 12:10, which encourages us to be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love and to honor others by giving them preference. By honoring one another, we create an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation within the church community

In Conclusion…

Mr. Bonjour’s forum provided valuable insights into the importance of recognizing our unique contributions, fostering unity through effective communication, and making the most of our time. These principles are not only relevant to the church but can also be applied to our daily lives, helping us navigate challenges and build stronger, more harmonious relationships with others.

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. Hyabiel currently works as a writer and manages the Facebook page for the Living Education department. 

The Secrets to Staying Organized

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

In the first forum of the 2023-2024 school year, Mr. DeSimone explained to the LivingEd students that having organization in all aspects of life is the key to maximizing time and effort. 

To demonstrate, he introduced to them the “Five S’s of Lean” number game. The goal of the game was to prove just how inefficient working can be without an organized system in place. It’s easy to fall into habits of disorganization, and it’s easy to assume that work done under those conditions is ‘as good as it’s going to get’. But, as the students quickly learned, that is far from the case.

The S’s stood for:

  1. Sort: Keep only what is necessary and discard everything else- when in doubt, throw it out.
  2. Set in order: Arrange and label only necessary items for easy use and return by anyone
  3. Shine: Keeping everything swept and clean for inspection for safety and preventative maintenance of equipment.
  4. Standardize: The state that exists when the first three pillars of the 5S’s are properly maintained.
  5. Sustain: Making a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures.

The 5 S’s Game

Mr. DeSimone then had the students participate in the game, which had several rounds. Each time, he gave out sheets of paper with numbers distributed across the entire page. He asked the students to identify and cross off the numbers 1-49 in ascending order within 20 seconds. During each round, he incorporated different aspects of the 5 S’s to make the number sorting more efficient. 

In the first round, there were 99 numbers on the page with no organization at all. 

In the second, the numbers 50-99 were removed from the page. 

During the third, numbers were organized into grid boxes. 

Finally, in the fourth, numbers 1-49 were lined up in ascending order. 

With each round, the amount of time it took to eliminate numbers decreased dramatically. This game proved the benefit of organization, and showed that the more we force ourselves to be organized, tasks that we complete will be done much more efficiently.

The Myth of Multitasking

A second point that Mr. DeSimone made was that trying to multitask was a dangerous idea. To introduce this point, he referenced a book titled “The Myth of Multitasking”, written by Dave Crenshaw. The passage he read to them told the story of a woman who was trying to explain to the book’s narrator that she was skilled at multitasking. As proof, she claimed that she was able to continue working at her computer while coworkers talked to her face-to-face. Although she bragged that she was able to focus on the two actions at one time, the narrator explained to her that instead of multitasking, she was doing something called “switch-tasking”. 

Switch-tasking is the action of shifting your full attention between multiple different tasks in quick succession. When many people claim to be multitasking, they aren’t actually doing two things at once. In reality, they are simply completing the action of shifting back and forth between things to focus on.

Mr. DeSimone then went on to give a second exercise, wherein he had the students write out the phrase “multitasking is a myth” one letter at a time. After writing each letter, the student was to number it, starting from one. They continued on in that way until the last letter-number pair was written. 

This took a long time, and the students made plenty of mistakes. 

The second time this exercise was done, the students were asked to write out the full phrase first, then follow up with writing the numbers. Doing this decreased the time it took by half. 

His final takeaways from this exercise were that in the first case, no tasks were fully completed until the full time was up. The longer time was accompanied by mistakes and confusion.

But in the second case, two tasks were put out in half the time, and on top of that, each task was done much quicker and more effectively than in the previous instance. 

New Perspectives

These examples provided the students with an extremely important lesson. Organization, order, maintenance, and time prioritization are all important skills for anyone to have, and for individuals who, like the students, have jam-packed schedules, these skills are even more crucial. The students left this forum with new perspectives on efficiency, and were even more prepared to have a great and profitable year. 

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.

Godly Protocol: Loving Your Neighbor

Author: Nathan Kroon | Student Leader, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Richard Ames, in the final forum of the 2022-23 Living Education–Charlotte year, gave the students instruction in protocol.

In our world, there are certain standards that we adhere to, depending on our environment. Mr. Ames called this system of standards GIPS: Guidelines, Instructions, Procedures, and Standards. We can follow guidelines others set before us in our childhoods, our marriages, etc. There’s an etiquette we follow in our communication with other people. Mr. Ames recalled that, during his time in the military, before God called him into the Worldwide Church of God, this was especially important. What expectations do people have for us in terms of protocol, and what expectations do we have for other people?

Types of Protocol

Protocol can be defined as an expected standard of conduct, or as a premeditated procedure followed in certain situations. For example, when a football player in the NFL suffers a concussion, the protocol for when they can begin playing again is typically at least nine days later. Mr. Ames said that he had to learn about the strict procedures he had to follow to be on the air during his first job as a radio announcer. Airline companies also have safety protocols for when something goes wrong during a flight, which have saved several lives since the initial innovation of aviation. One way to organize what to do during these protocols is to create a checklist. This is what an airline follows when an emergency arises, and they can be incredibly helpful for keeping track of routines you want to follow.

Basic Keys to Loving Your Neighbor

  1. Have an Attitude of Respect

Mr. Ames quoted Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, saying, “Every human is precious in God’s sight.” We need to treat others with respect. Philippians 2:3 tells us to esteem others higher than ourselves.

  1. Choose Words of Respect and Courtesy

Mr. Ames listed five simple phrases we can use every day with each other to show respect and courtesy:

●  “Thank you.”

●  “You’re Welcome.”

●  “Please.”

●  “I’m sorry.”

●  “How may I help you?”

These phrases will help us to get along with other people.

  1. Follow Biblical Instructions

“When all else fails, follow instructions” is a common phrase. Mr. Ames said that it really should be, “To prevent failure, follow instructions.” The Bible gives us tons of lessons on how we should manage our conduct:

●  Obey your leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

●  Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).

●  Let your “yes” be “yes,” and your “no” be “no” (Matthew 5:37).

●  Don’t use corrupt words (Ephesians 4:29).

●  Seek wisdom (Proverbs 2:1).

Our world today is becoming a confused mess, and that is because people aren’t following the protocols that God has set before them. It’s important that people prove to themselves that God exists and that the Bible is the word of God. With that, they can learn biblical protocol through His statutes and instruction. Practice godly protocol—it will ensure you an abundant life!

Nathan Kroon is a Student Leader at Living Education. He originally hails from Washington State, and is a 4th generation Christian. Currently, he works at Headquarters as a Video Editor, and is the Lead Landscaper at the LivingEd dorms. His hobbies include playing guitar, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies.

Build an Atmosphere of Radiant Faith

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated reading time: 4 min.

Mr. Michael Heykoop gave a stirring presentation on radiant faith.

Mr. Heykoop began his forum by recalling when he first read the Sevenfold Mission of God’s Church, articulated by Dr. Meredith in the Living Church News article “The PURPOSE for God’s Church.” He recalled there was one mission that made him stop and think—the seventh, the mission to build an atmosphere of radiant faith. Why does the faith of others matter when we are judged based on our individual faith? 

Mr. Heykoop explained that radiant faith creates an inspirational environment in which people are prepared to do the work of God. After all, we are inspired by the faith of those in Hebrews 11 and examples throughout the Bible. Clearly, the faith of others does impact us. He then explored what the Bible says about radiant faith. 

The Power of an Atmosphere of Faith—and Lack of Faith

The Bible shows that an atmosphere of unbelief has consequences. Mr. Heykoop pointed to the example of Christ in Nazareth, where He did no mighty works “because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). He also referred to the story of Caleb and Joshua, who showed personal faith in God—but the Israelite camp as a whole had a faith-choking atmosphere that led to disobedience and punishment. The Bible specifically warns that lack of faith infects a group. God instructed Israel to send only fearful, fainthearted people home from its army (Deuteronomy 20:8), so that their fear wouldn’t spread. Clearly, the faith of the person next to us is important! 

The Bible also shows that a single individual’s faith can be used to inspire others. Mr. Heykoop turned to the story of David and Goliath. Goliath taunted the Israelites 80 times before David answered the challenge—but this certainly would not have happened by the end of David’s reign! By then, we read of numerous mighty men. These men likely would have lined up to fight Goliath. David’s personal example of radiant faith, over time, came to be reflected throughout Israel. 

Reassuring Faith

The faith of the group can also affect the individual. Mr. Heykoop turned to the example of Elijah. He began reading the account of Mount Carmel and the encounter between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal. As Mr. Heykoop said, this is “one of the most visually inspiring miracles of the Bible.” In this miracle, Baal’s prophets cry out for hours to no effect, but a short, 30-seconds-or-so prayer by Elijah causes God to send fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. Yet even after this, Elijah is afraid and his faith is weak! Elijah fasted for forty days and was still afraid to go back to Israel. Mr. Heykoop showed that it wasn’t until God told Elijah that there were still 7,000 men following God—still faith in Israel—that Elijah got back to work. And after this, Elijah and Elisha perform some of the most profound miracles in the Bible. In this case, the faith of others in Israel encouraged and strengthened Elijah. 

Six Challenges to Take On 

Mr. Heykoop underscored the importance of an atmosphere of radiant faith. “We’re not judged by the faith of others, but the faith of others is a phenomenal tool we can use to grow.” We should hear the stories of miracles and blessings in the lives of our brethren and use them to grow our own faith. Mr. Heykoop then gave six challenges to the Living Education students to help build an atmosphere of radiant faith. 

  1. Pray for the mission of God’s Church. 
  2. Pray for the needs we see in God’s Church. Sometimes we can fulfill the needs of others, but often all we can do is pray about them. 
  3. Pray for the leadership in God’s Church. Israel refused to follow its leaders—Moses and Aaron—but we can do better. We should pray that God will guide our leaders’ decisions. 
  4. Pray about what we are asked to pray about. We should take announcements seriously, and we should maintain that fellowship with each other by praying for one another. 
  5. Participate—get to know people. We can’t radiate faith to others if we never interact with them. We should fellowship with others, meet others, and inspire faith through interactions. 
  6. Act with faith. We must live by faith to build our faith. We should make consistent plans to step out on faith, doing the right thing even when it’s hard, and give others the chance to be inspired by our faith. 

Mr. Heykoop concluded by stating, “It is essential we not just have individual faith, but an atmosphere of faith.” 

Rod McNair gave a forum recently explaining the psychological benefits of growing and tending to plants. Read about that here: Grow Something. 

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content, videos, and helping with a variety of other projects. 

You Can Soar Like an Eagle

Author: Nathan Kroon | Student Leader, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

Mr. Dexter Wakefield, Director of Business Administration in the Living Church of God and teacher of the Biblical Communication class at Living Education–Charlotte, has always had an affinity for airplanes.

It started in his youth, when he would build model planes and ride in planes that his father piloted. “He only had to pull me out of a dive a few times,” he said, jokingly. He has had a pilot’s license since the 1980s, and now primarily flies gliders, which requires an extra certification. He occasionally will briefly discuss his flights with the students in his classes. By popular demand, he gave the students a forum about his adventures in flying and on certain principles of flight.

Intro to Gliders

Gliders, also known as sailplanes, are capable of climbing thousands of feet into the air. Mr. Wakefield showed this illustration to the students to show them all the different parts of the glider:

The airfoils on the craft are designed to keep precise airflow over the glider’s surface. When the wind and the angle of the airfoils produce lift, drag is also created. The ratio of lift to drag is important, and depends on the weight of the plane. Low performance planes generally have a lift-to-drag ratio of 20:1. Medium performance planes will function at 30:1, and high performance planes do well at 40:1 to 60:1.

Thermal Dynamics

Gliders require a tow plane to perform a takeoff. Once in the air, gliders will typically use “thermals” to pull them higher. Thermals are columns of rising air, caused by warmer air temperatures on the ground. The heat being produced from the ground causes the air to destabilize, form a bubble, and create a column of rising air. The released moisture from the air forms into clouds, and this tells the pilot where the best lift can be found. Mr. Wakefield stated that he has flown with eagles and buzzards. Birds will fly in a circle in the thermals. Pilots learn to fly with the circle, not against it.. Thermals are stronger towards their middle, so pilots will try to fly in the center of the thermal.

Mr. Wakefield getting ready to fly

Flying High

Mr. Wakefield said that pilots can also fly through what are called high altitude waves, but they need clearance to be able to fly above 18,000 feet in them, because above that altitude is controlled airspace. It’s also necessary to wear an oxygen mask above 12,000 feet. Mr. Wakefield took high-altitude training at an Airforce base, back when they would train civilian pilots. One thing that they will teach you is that, above 25,000 feet, you have about three minutes of useful consciousness. At 30,000 feet, it’s about only about 30 seconds. This is why they instruct adults on airliners to put an oxygen mask on themselves first, before they put one on their child, in case of an emergency. High altitudes can make a person feel great, at first, but they can cause a brain to function poorly. Fingertips and lips will also begin to turn purple. One of the better parts of flying high, Mr. Wakefield stated, is slowing down enough to  stall speed. When you enter a speed lower than stall speeds, the plane will stop flying and start falling. However, pilots are taught how to pull out of a stall if one occurs, so Mr. Wakefield will let the plane enter a series of dives, and then safely pull up, allowing the ride to feel like a roller coaster. Being a pilot can be a lot of fun!

Nathan Kroon is a Student Leader at Living Education. He originally hails from Washington State, and is a 4th generation Christian. Currently, he works at Headquarters as a Video Editor, and is the Lead Landscaper at the LivingEd dorms. His hobbies include playing guitar, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies.

Embracing Our Inheritance

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated reading time: 4 min.

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Don’t squander your Spiritual Inheritance! Embrace it instead. 

Mr. Phil West spoke for a forum, and he informed the students that they had a Spiritual inheritance from both God and their parents. He warned them not to scorn it by expounding on a powerful parable and encouraged the students to cherish and embrace their incredible inheritance. 

An Inheritance from Our Parents

Phil West began by asking how many of the students came to the Church through their parents. He then informed those who had that their parents had fulfilled Proverbs 13:22 by giving us an inheritance. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” 

But what is our inheritance? It is something far greater than riches: God’s truth.  Mr. West continued by saying that our heavenly Father also promises an inheritance, one we will receive if we heartily serve God (Colossians 3:23-24). But we have a choice to make: Will we embrace these inheritances or scorn them? It is up to us to choose to listen to our parents and to choose to serve God. 

A Biblical Example 

The Bible has a stark example of squandering an inheritance. Mr. West turned to Luke 15:11—the parable of the prodigal son. He explained that the son demanding his inheritance while his father was still alive was disrespectful, but not unlawful. The father, no doubt gravely concerned, let his son go. The son then went out and wasted his inheritance on prodigal living, not respecting the work his father had done to give him these possessions. Young people raised by parents in the Church can do the exact same thing as the prodigal son if they leave the Church, disrespecting the inheritance of spiritual truth their parents provided. And it doesn’t end well. 

A Lesson for Us

In the parable, the prodigal son did not end up with the glamorous life he no doubt imagined. Instead he ended up poor, hungry, in servitude, and friendless. Similarly, those who leave the Church end up in slavery in Satan’s world and spiritually starving. Mr. West warned the students not to “test” the world. There is nothing but “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16), which will leave us spiritually hungry and morally exhausted. Ultimately, the prodigal son “came to himself” (Luke 15:17), stopped living in denial, and recognized his pitiful state. When it comes to those who leave the Church, Mr. West explained, we hope they come to themselves one day and return. 

The Choice and the Consequence

At this point, the prodigal son decided to return (Luke 15:18). But none of his suffering and pain had been forced on him. Mr. West compared the parable with the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were raised the same, taught the same values, and given the same chances to succeed. Yet Cain refused to listen to God, control his emotions, and rule over sin. Cain made a choice to ignore God. Abel, on the other hand, offered a more excellent sacrifice of righteousness and is remembered as righteous (Hebrews 11:4). One son chose to follow God and one did not. Similarly, the prodigal son did not have to squander his inheritance. He could have embraced it like his brother. Instead, he chose to despise his inheritance, leave, and then suffer the consequences. 

Embracing Your Inheritance

As the prodigal son returned, his father embraced him and forgave him (Luke 15:20). Through the story, Mr. West explained, the prodigal son had changed so much. First, he had been disrespectful and demanding, but now he was humbled and appreciative. His father embraced him, just like God is always there to forgive, help, and encourage us. But there is a key lesson from this parable: don’t be like the prodigal son. We can skip the suffering and mistakes by choosing to follow God and not squander our inheritance. 

Concluding, Mr. West read, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). He warned us not to chase after wealth, lust, or the temporary things of this world while we are young, but rather to embrace our spiritual inheritance and make the most of it. 

Mr. Adam West also gave a forum recently. In his forum, Mr. Adam West explained the value of living a simple life in a chaotic world and gave practical tips for simplifying. Read his forum here: Simplify Your Life

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content, videos, and helping with a variety of other projects. 

Biblical Imperatives for Young People

Author: Nathan Kroon | Student Leader, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 7 min.

Mr. Kenneth Frank spoke to the students of Living Education – Charlotte about something that pertains to all of them: youth.

First, he mentioned that “the Bible is big!” It contains a total of 66 books—39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Inside, it addresses God’s commands for people of all age groups. An important thing to understand about the people of these ancient times is that they had a different idea of “youth” than we do today. It was defined by strength and vigor, rather than simply age. Benjamin, for example, was called a youth at the age of 30. Joshua was also called a young man at the age of 40. In the times of the Old Testament, you could go to war at 20, as well as be taxed. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say to young people. “Man” is the most used word in the book, and “Lord” the second most. It emphasizes heavily the relationship between man and God, making it an important read for young people. What imperatives can younger people learn from the whole of the Bible?

  1. Study

As we get older, we gain wisdom. Unfortunately, this means that younger people are more likely to be led astray in their morals and beliefs, especially in this day and age. Psalm 119:9 tells us, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” If a young person is consistent in their Bible study, they will have a better chance of staying strong in the faith. Memorizing scripture is beneficial to us, as well.

  1. Praise God

In the words of Psalm 148:5, “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.” It’s important that we praise God. After all, He has provided us with countless blessings in our lives—some that we may not even think too much about. Sometimes, in our prayers, we may get too swept up in making our requests known to Him and forget to make praise to Him. We should follow the example of the model prayer found in Matthew 6. Notice how the requests (“Your kingdom come. Your will be done”) are sandwiched in between praises (“Hallowed be Your name…. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever”). Follow the structure presented to us directly from Christ!

  1. Honor Your Parents

To “honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12) is the Fifth Commandment, which Paul called the “first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2), because God promises that our lifespan will be increased if we follow it. Mr. Frank stressed that we should especially make the effort to honor them while they are still alive, because our Creator did not intend for people to live forever physically. 

  1. Fear God, Trust Him, and Seek Him

“Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:9-10). If you fear God and diligently seek Him, He will make you prosper! Hopefully, you are throwing your entire life into God’s hands. If you serve God your whole life, you will understand things most people are not able to. Seek wisdom and a godly way of life. Proverbs 8:1 says, “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?” Notice the use of the word “her.” Wisdom is personified as one of the two prominent “women” of the book of Proverbs—the other being a crafty harlot (Proverbs 7), representing the ways of the world. Which one will we allow to influence us? Let it be godly wisdom!

  1. Rejoice in Your Youth and Put Evil Away

Many young people today are more likely to suffer from depression and other mental illnesses, in part because of overexposure to things like social media. As was stated earlier, younger people are more likely to turn away from a godly way of life. Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 tells us:

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.”

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

The earlier we diligently seek God in our lives, the more we will spend our lives rejoicing. After all, youth is temporary, so why spend it in sadness and regret?

  1. Forget the Shame of Your Youth

People are often deeply ashamed of the sins that they committed in their youth. The Bible tells us we are not to be ashamed of sins that we have since repented of, as is seen in Isaiah 54:4: “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth.” Those that have a hard time getting over past sins should know that God will not hold those sins against them if they repent.

  1. Bear the Yoke of Responsibility

God is good to those who choose to bear godly responsibilities, enduring in them until the return of His Son. As we read in Lamentations 3:25, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

  1. Be Sober-Minded

In Titus 2, we read about some of the qualities of a sound Church. Paul exhorted young men to be “sober-minded.” Some younger people fail to see the importance of taking their life seriously, and suffer the consequences because of it. A sober mind draws us closer to our Father.

  1. Submit to Spiritual Elders

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5 that younger people should submit to their elders, keeping a humble mind and attitude, “for ‘God resists the proud.’” Those who still have the strength and vigor of youth should not think of themselves as greater than those who are older and have a depth of understanding younger people have not yet attained.

  1. Overcome Satan

In the same chapter in 1 Peter, Satan is described as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He will not hesitate to corrupt anything he can get his hands on. Therefore, we have to be strong in order to fight back. How can we make ourselves stronger? Mr. Frank tied his last point back to his first: study! We should never fail to come back to our spiritual relationship with our Creator. Biblical study must be personal, so that our one-on-one relationship with Him grows stronger daily.

God did not omit certain age demographics from His instruction. If we consider ourselves young, we should take these points to heart! If they do so, young people can truly achieve great things for God.

Nathan Kroon is a Student Leader at Living Education. He originally hails from Washington State, and is a 4th generation Christian. Currently, he works at Headquarters as a Video Editor, and is the Lead Landscaper at the LivingEd dorms. His hobbies include playing guitar, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies.

The Moon, Mars, and Beyond: God’s Awesome Universe

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated reading time: 7 min.

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The Living Education students heard a presentation from Dr. Roedolph Opperman, a systems engineer who worked on NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover.

In his forum, Dr. Opperman covered the accomplishments of mankind in exploring space, how the human body reacts to space, and the vastness of God’s creation. This summary gives a glimpse into Dr. Opperman’s fascinating forum. 

What Has Mankind Done?

Over 50 years ago, mankind slipped the surly bonds of Earth and set foot upon the moon. From there, man shifted his focus to Mars, flying numerous missions to the Red Planet and landing robotic explorers on its surface. These accomplishments required tremendous effort, thousands of people, and brilliant minds. Dr. Opperman showed a video titled “7 minutes of Terror that depicts the intense challenge the rover Curiosity faced when landing on Mars. There were seven minutes from the moment the spacecraft carrying Curiosity entered the atmosphere to the moment the rover touched the surface of Mars, and it was an extremely complicated seven minutes, involving parachutes, rockets, and precise maneuvering. And it all had to happen without any human control. It takes 14 minutes for a signal to get from Mars to Earth. The Rover was on Mars for seven minutes before NASA even knew it had entered the atmosphere. All they could do was hope for its successful landing. 

Curiosity survived its automated landing, and so did Perseverance, a rover almost identical to Curiosity (see actual footage of Perseverance landing on Mars). The Perseverance Rover also carried with it a little partner robot: Ingenuity. This explorer is not a rover, but essentially a remote-controlled helicopter. It is the first powered aircraft to fly on Mars! Since 2021, Perseverance has taken over 300,000 pictures of Mars, traveled 7 miles, and taken 43 soil samples. Ingenuity has flown over 50 times and now helps scout locations for Perseverance to explore. 

Perseverance Rover with Ingenuity in the background on Mars

Perseverance and Ingenuity represent the latest in NASAs missions to Mars and are major success stories. Dr. Opperman himself worked on the Perseverance mission as a member of the fault protection team. But not every mission succeeds. All countries combined have attempted 43 missions to Mars, and less than half were successful. While the Perseverance mission shows the progress mankind’s space ventures have made, man has more ambitious plans for the future, like colonizing the moon and even Mars. 

Human Beings Are Not Designed for Space

The Artemis program currently aims to put man back on the moon by 2025, hoping to pave the way for “colonization” of the lunar land. But Dr. Opperman emphasized the critical fact that the human body is simply not suited for space. He explained that the lack of gravity creates issues for fluid circulation and leads to muscle atrophy and bone mass loss, even with intense exercise.

And there are bigger issues than zero-gravity, like radiation. Dr. Opperman explained that sun or intergalactic radiation is a major threat to humans, and there is simply no good solution for protection! In fact, the previous Apollo missions were miracles themselves as they all occurred during periods of low radiation. But months of space travel would make a lethal radiation event a statistical inevitability. As Dr. Opperman said, “We are mere fleshly human beings; we are ill-equipped to explore the universe in our current state.”

What Has God Done?

Mankind has walked on the moon and sent robots to Mars, yet our accomplishments are nothing compared to God’s. “Our best efforts can barely scratch the surface of exploring this incredible universe that an awesome Creator made by merely saying the word,” said Dr. Opperman. The fact is that God created everything, including the sun, the earth, and the universe as a whole, and mankind’s achievements are comparatively tiny. 

A World Made Just for Us

Planet Earth is a massive miracle, mystifying skeptics. It is exactly the right distance from the sun—in the “Goldilocks zone”—and this makes life possible. Here, water in all three phases and mild temperatures and conditions allow for complex molecules. Additionally, Earth has an axis tilt that makes seasons, an ozone layer that protects from ultraviolet radiation, and a strong magnetic field. Even the other planets in our solar system, like Jupiter, protect Earth from comets and asteroids. And the Earth is only the beginning of God’s awesome creation.

How Big Is the Universe?

Dr. Opperman shifted his focus to the universe as we know it, and the enormous scale in which it exists. The sun is absolutely massive—it could fit around 1.3 million Earths inside of it—and reaches temperatures of 27 million degrees Celsius in its core. And the Sun is vital to Earth for its heat and light. Light itself is not only specifically listed as a creation of God (Genesis 1:3), but also is an essential part of how we observe and explore the universe. We use light to determine composition of celestial bodies through spectroscopy, to determine distance through trigonometry, and to see if a celestial body is moving toward us or away from us via red-shift/blue-shift. We also use light as a scale for the universe’s size. Light is the fastest moving mass or energy, traveling at around 186,000 miles per second. For context, light can travel around the Earth seven-and-a-half times in a single second. If a light particle/wave traveled for a year, it would go 5.88 trillion miles! To understand the scale of a trillion, Dr. Opperman gave this example: If we were to go back in time one trillion seconds, we would find ourselves in 30,000 BC! 

But in the vastness of the universe, even light seems slow. The nearest galaxy to the Milky Way is 2500 light years away, or 14,700 trillion miles! The scale of the universe is impossible for humans to comprehend. 

The universe is not just overwhelming in size, but also in beauty and structure. The more we learn from instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope, the more beauty we see in the massive galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters. The more we learn about the massive universe and its trillions of stars, the more impressive Psalm 147:4 is: “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.”

The Universe and Us

The universe is so large that humans really cannot comprehend it or travel it. The fastest matter or energy can go is the speed of light, and that requires thousands of years to reach even the nearest galaxy. While we, in our current state, are not suited for such vastness, Dr. Opperman highlighted that spirit beings can move instantaneously, not limited by physical laws. Thus, the expanse of the universe awaits us as our inheritance. Dr. Opperman concluded by saying that there are trillions of planets estimated in the universe—even more than the number of stars—and maybe these planets are reserved for the future members of God’s Family! 

Mr. Ames gave a forum talking all about the amazing planet that is Earth and how unique it truly is in the universe. Read about that here: Is Earth a Privileged Planet?

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content, videos, and helping with a variety of other projects.