Modern Propaganda

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

Can we really believe everything we’re told?

Mr. Michael Brown spoke to the students about a topic that impacts modern thinking, although it can be so subtle that it can easily go unnoticed even by those looking for it. His topic was on the concept of communism, and how it seeps into modern thinking to this day. At its peak, the goal of communist leaders like Vladimir Lenin in 1917 was ultimately to change the mindsets of a society, rather than the people’s physical lives. It waged a war that was not fought with physical weapons, but rather with the weapons of words. 

This very same war is being fought in our daily lives, though we may not immediately notice it. These same communist values have shown themselves through the modern radical left. Hollywood, as well as other similar media institutions, have sown seeds of mental warfare. It is fully overrun by individuals who manipulate the media, villainize people with true moral values, sabotage education, attack the family, and destroy the economy.

There is only one goal: outlaw the Bible, God, and the truth.

Mr. Brown explained to the students that ideologies like this have us getting thrown out of meeting halls, and TV stations, because we disagree with their points strongly. For example,  Communism hates families. It may be surprising, but the Communist Manifesto says so explicitly. Communists also disagree about the proper roles of individuals in society. Additionally, it teaches that many concepts that we believe in passionately, like religion, tradition, and morality, must be abolished. 

It may seem archaic to say that communism exists in the western world, but it is incredibly pervasive. In our modern day, the communist mindset is more than just a set of ideals by hopeful enthusiasts. It is incredibly intentional and widespread, and goes directly according to what’s taught in the Communist Manifesto. After all, it is the third most assigned textbook in universities today.

Don’t immediately believe everything you hear. 

“The first one to plead his cause seems right,

Until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Prov 18:17

The people behind what we watch and hear have an agenda to push. We are warned in the Bible to avoid the dangerous mindsets of the world, and to do so, we must avoid the trap of immediately believing everything we hear or see. We must be diligent to examine everything, because the people who create entertainment for the general public are masters of their craft. They know exactly what they’re doing, and are fully aware of the messages they’re subtly pushing in the works they produce. In addition, even in media where the messages are intentionally blatant, their works can be written in a way that is very convincing, and can even include legitimate facts.

A major point to consider when indulging in any form of media is that modern media creators weaponize words. They do so by using harsh and angry language, and by omitting major facts from their arguments and messages. These omitted facts can change the viewer’s opinion on what they’re taking in, and often, this result is highly undesirable to the person that made it. 

Therefore, we must be careful to consider the language that is used in entertainment. In addition, people with this communist mindset rarely say what their core goal is outright. We should immediately ask ourselves if we are witnessing another instance of words being weaponized, and work diligently to avoid falling into their traps.

Be cautious of the world’s entertainment. 

It is unlikely that we fully comprehend Hollywood’s sway, because its purpose is not entirely to entertain. Rather, Hollywood and other similar industries use entertainment to be the biggest propaganda tool in the world. The way it does this is by swaying our morals. Often, movies do not teach the righteous morals outlined in the Bible. For example, the Bible teaches that obedience to God’s way provides blessings, and the opposite leads to cursings, but movies often disagree with this idea directly. 

Instead, they make us form emotional attachments to fictional characters with their own messages. Once this happens, it makes us question our morals in order to cheer for the ‘right people’. From the entertainment industry’s earliest onset, this fact was used as a tool to sway our morals and emotions. With time, they have only become more effective and subtle. 

There is mass confusion on the difference between good and evil

“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age,

That is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised

to discern both good and evil.” Heb 5:14

When we watch things, we must earnestly be aware of what we’re seeing and be vigilant to notice what might be wrong with it. We must work earnestly to develop a foundation so strong that we can truly identify what’s good and what’s evil. By having this stability of heart, we will be able to arm ourselves against this fierce war, and find safety in God and His way of thinking.

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.

Success in the Workplace

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

Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunity. Success. 

The students were intrigued to hear from Dr. John Cole, a very successful businessman, because in this forum, he highlighted several ways to become successful in the workplace. 

The first piece of advice he imparted upon the students was simple, but it makes an incredible difference in the process of job hunting. He suggested that we research our career and our potential place of employment before we go for it. This research can start as simple as a Google search, but he recommended that we aim for more depth from reputable sources. 

The reason that we should study our career paths is to make sure that it is right for us, because oftentimes, we go for roles solely for the money we can earn and not because we would be good at the job itself.

Look at the Mindset

Another important factor to consider is an organization’s mindset. But how do we learn what it is? The answer can be discovered by looking at what they are involved in. Look for common agreements in ourselves and in them. 

Another smart idea is to observe the competing businesses to see how your target company is positioned in the market. For higher paying jobs, they’re spending quite a bit of money on you when they pay you. Because of this, they undoubtedly make sure to research you by doing extensive and pricey background checks. This makes it necessary to keep your record clean and establish credibility, both online and in previous workplaces. Apprenticeships are great ways to gain industry credibility. They can be free or paid, and you can learn on the job from experts in the field. They often offer knowledge that you can’t gain anywhere else. 

First Impressions

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure to have a professional critique your resume to make sure there’s nothing you need to fix, or even worse, something detrimental. Additionally, sometimes the problems present in resumes is not what is presented, it is how it’s presented. This makes it critical to write resumes carefully and intentionally, so that you start off on the right foot with your future employer. 

Also, make sure to get at least three letters of recommendation, and make sure the people you ask are credible. Ensure that they address the letter “to whom it may concern” rather than a specific name, so that you can reuse the letter as many times as necessary.

Another often overlooked method of establishing a first impression are our records. Our credit rating,  criminal history, driving record, insurance records, and a plethora of other things, can be used to establish a first impression. They can be used to determine our level of responsibility, so by staying vigilant now we can do our future self a favor. 

You remember me, I remember you.

It is critical to learn to put yourself out there. By going to job fairs and other places where professionals can be found, you can easily develop associations with very important people. Show them a human side of you, so that if you apply for a job from them at some point, they can  see past the pen on paper information and look at the real you instead.

Even if we are able to do the job in theory, if it is not right for us as individuals, the lack of enthusiasm will be noticeable. Unfortunately, this is all too common. To stand out, we should try to tell a story. Through our personal story, the company will be able to recognize our unique abilities, and select us for roles compared to people who have no outstanding qualities.  Use the mindset “What can I do for this company?” instead of “What can they do for me?”. We must show some differentiation from others through our storytelling. 

Power of Prayer

Finally, Dr. Cole reminded the students to make sure to pray before doing something, but also know to do their part too. It is amazing the difference that prayer can make. It is also important to let people know what your problems are so that they can pray for you too. And remember that the answer to a prayer can be ‘no’. So don’t feel bad about rejection from a job, because this could very likely be the best course of action for us. Ask and pray, “If this job goes against God’s will, please close that door.” By remaining humble, relying on God, and doing our absolute best in what we do, success is something all of us have the potential to achieve.

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.

Choose well. Choose Life.

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

Choice is a feature of life. 

Mr. Peter Nathan asked the students to consider the typical event of going to the grocery store. In it, shelves are lined with countless options. For a customer who lacks a clear idea of what they are looking for, the options can be quite overwhelming. 

But for those who know what they are looking for, the other options fade away, and the item desired clearly stands out. A reason that stores offer so many options is designed to prey on the customers without clear direction. Simply put, choice is marketing. 

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” Deut 30:19 

The concept of choice can be seen in the Garden of Eden. In the second chapter of Genesis, God provides Adam with two options. When shown the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he was told not to eat it lest they surely die. Ultimately, however, mankind had the ability to choose for themselves whether or not they’d consume the fruit. They were to choose between two paths of life, and they chose the wrong one.

In modern life, there are two overarching options for life as well. 

The first way is the way of life based on the philosophy of the Greeks, like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. 

According to man, wisdom is defined as the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships. This is the basis of philosophy, also known as rational understanding. Its aim is to try to see what is happening around us. It is strictly based on the human mind, and it seeks to establish universal principles.

An example of this is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs diagram. In this diagram, he states that the most fundamental needs of man, from most basic to most advanced, are physiological security, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self- actualization.

Maslow believed that the human mind needs to ascend that hierarchical level to reach man’s fullest potential. There are several problems with this method of thinking. First, the focus is on the self and trying to rise up in that hierarchy based on one’s own power. Secondly, the divine being has no part in us. This demonstrates a way of life that completely abandons the need of God to guide us. It relies on the idea that the human mind is capable of solving man’s problems without further assistance. With philosophy, there is the desire and hope for a world without any form of spirit or even God. 

The other path of life is based on the Bible and the revelation of God.

The way of life in which we are called is the way presented in scripture. In this way of living, faith is critical. It creates loving dependence on our Creator, and in turn, we receive the full blessing of God’s love onto us. This is an extreme blessing, because God’s love creates value in us where value never was.

The Bible tells us to humble ourselves under the mighty arm of God, and cast all our cares upon Him. Therefore, God’s spirit should be existent in our lives.

The humanistic approach, as demonstrated by human philosophers like Maslow, goes against everything we have been instructed by God. We are told to trust in Him, and that our own human strength is insufficient (Proverbs 3:5). Why, then, should we try to make it enough?

God should be at the very center of our lives!

However, just knowing these truths is not enough. How do we actually apply what God said and make these decisions? The key is to cast all our cares to the Eternal. God has to be at the center of everything in our lives, and if He is, He will guide us. That requires that we avoid allowing ourselves to be the focus.

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,

where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matt 6:20-33

We must ask ourselves the simple but critical question- do we want God or ourselves to make our decisions? If we do, we must use the spirit to direct us.

By trusting God with our decisions, this will give us Godly peace in our minds. After achieving this peace of mind, the rest of our physical needs will be added by God. This should be our main aim and goal, as that is our primary goal on this earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

For they shall be filled.” Matt 5:6

Satan wants to give us a selection of things to choose from, but God has directed us to the choice we must make. We should decide to follow Him before Satan gives us his selection of items, so that those other options don’t phase us.

Choose well. Choose life.

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.

Talents: Blessings from God

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

“What am I good at? What talents do I have?”

Some people are good at archery, while others are better at surfing. Many are highly talented at drawing, while others tend to excel at photography.

But some of us may not feel like we have any of these talents, or any skill in general. 

Mr. Hall began his forum with these thought provoking comments. We may see skilled people and wonder what we’re good at. If we compare ourselves to them and decide we don’t match their level, we can become discouraged. A lot of people feel like they’ve been ‘left behind the door’ and like they have no use, talent or purpose.

This idea, however, is simply untrue.

“So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’” Luke 19:13

Although we may not have the same talents other people have, we are all blessed with something we are able to do. God will sometimes give just a little, but what matters to Him is what we do with it. 

The reason for this seeming disparity in talent distribution is simple: God knows us better than anybody. He sees long into the future, and has plans for us far beyond our level of comprehension. He will never give us more than we can handle. So even if we don’t have skill in certain areas, and although we may feel jealousy that people may have skills we want, God will bless us with talent according to what we’re able to work with. 

In addition, Mr. Hall explained that when we do well with what we are given, we will be given more. For example, in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), the amount of money the servants were given was an extremely high amount for that day, around 20 years’ wages for a laborer, and what they did with that money impacted what they were given as a reward. Similarly, if we take our personal talent seriously, God will allow it to grow and bless us further.

Our talents are a blessing from God.

Simply put, the talents we were given were divinely inspired. Just because God gave them to us doesn’t mean we can’t improve on them, however. In fact, the opposite is true. They can grow based on how much we use them, and we are to use God’s blessings in the fullest way we possibly can. 

Whenever we use our talent, it grows and matures. Through this growth process, a small measure of skill can grow into something so wonderful we could never have dreamed of.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you,

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, 

but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Rom 12:3

We have each been given an individualized measure of faith. We are precious in God’s sight  and have unique abilities within the body of the church. We are to do what we can where we can, because our talents are a unique gift to us. The talent we were all given is the Holy Spirit. Even if we are not baptized, the Spirit is still with us and working with us. 

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…” Eph 4:11

Strengthening our own skills not only improves our lives, it can improve the lives of those around us as well. It will go towards helping others develop their own skills. We are not just inspiring ourselves, we are inspiring others through our behaviors. That is doing our share in the body of Christ. 

We are also learning to be leaders. If we can be faithful with the small talents and groups of people we are with now, with God’s spirit we can grow with one another by growing and giving. The love inside our hearts is a talent we all can grow, and we might be surprised by just how much it multiplies. 

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.

No Small Task

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

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains.” (Isaiah 2:2)

Mr. Rod McNair began his forum by referencing Isaiah 2, describing the prophesied coming establishment of the Millennium. This future reality is pictured by the yearly Feast of Tabernacles. Coordinating the overall plans for the Feast each year is no small task, as Mr. McNair revealed to the students.

God’s Protection and Blessings

Mr. McNair shared some interesting statistics with the students. Last year, 2022, there was an overall attendance of 11,434 individuals attending 89 sites around the world. This figure represents encouraging growth, including in new locations.

Tororo, Uganda, received a visit from Mr. Dexter Wakefield, with 50 attendees. Lake Kalamba, the first Feast in Zambia, yielded 45 attendees, and was visited by Mr. Bower.

Excitingly, we were able to host our first Feast of Tabernacles in Batu, Indonesia since 2020, following the COVID pandemic.

Additionally, other sites around the world were blessed with overcoming numerous challenges.

Last year, In Fontana, Wisconsin, an approaching storm front with accompanying tornado warnings split when it approached the Feast site, sparing the members. The storm front then reconnected and a tornado touched down, just about ten miles beyond the Feast site.

In Stilbaai, South Africa, the brethren were faced with the concern of load-shedding, or scheduled power outages in the country. While these outages threatened to affect the Feast, God blessed His site by almost completely eliminating these disruptions for the duration of the Feast. These blessings were an obvious reminder of God’s continued protection over His people at the Feast throughout the world, and were very encouraging in the preparations for this year.

Feast of Tabernacles 2023: Growth, Preparation, and Service

Church Administration spends plenty of time in advance preparing for our Feast sites, making contracts with venues, and conducting surveys in order to better serve the members and understand their needs each year. Some of these members are first-time attendees, with many coming to the Church through Tomorrow’s World Presentations. The correlation between TWPs and festival attendance is an encouraging and positive reminder of God’s hand in the growth of the work.

Mr. McNair concluded his forum by encouraging the students to serve at the Feast. Service is an integral aspect of the Feast, and Mr. McNair reminded the students that we go to the Feast in order to know God, to worship, and to serve. Acts of service, however small, impact the recipients. One common theme found in Feast surveys is the expression of appreciation for those who put forth the effort to serve others. Whether you’re going international or staying local, serving is an important way to serve both your fellow members and God.

The time, preparation, and planning that goes into the work of the Festival Office and Feast coordinators is a major effort, and one that God has blessed. Let us remember to pray for this effort and appreciate it as we attend each 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.

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

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

The universe’s size is so large, we simply cannot fathom it.

Dr. Roedolph Opperman is a lead systems engineer for Momentus, a young in-space transportation company. Prior to working for Momentus, he worked in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a fault protection engineer on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission. The students were blessed to hear from him, as he provided the students with a fascinating view into space.

He began his forum by first discussing the moon landing. Since the initial landing, he explained, 12 people have since walked on it. While only Americans have walked on the moon so far, many rovers and spacecraft have gone on it from other countries. A major reason for this is because it is extremely expensive and difficult to fly humans there and back, so it is much easier and cost efficient to send rovers instead.

These spacecraft have brought back valuable samples, and provide us with the majority of the knowledge we have on the universe as it is now. A lot of NASA’s budget goes to testing, because spacecraft are impossible to manually fix once they’re in space. Space crew wouldn’t even be able to if they tried- from Earth, scientists can’t entirely know what’s going on until 40 minutes later!

NASA has recently put an extreme amount of effort into their spacecraft for Mars exploration.

The Mars rovers are Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, Perseverance, and Ingenuity.
Perseverance, a rover from 2020, has many abilities to perform experiments, including specimen collection vessels, and Ingenuity, the helicopter from a companion 2020 exploration, is essentially a small drone. Its propellers are larger and faster than those for any helicopter on earth, because Mars’ gravity is approximately ½ that of Earth’s. A benefit of smaller spacecraft like Ingenuity is that it can serve as the companion for other larger rovers. For example, it can be used for scientists to see what section of Mars is scientifically interesting, since it is smaller and more nimble.

Once they reach a point where they have enough research, Dr. Opperman explained, NASA has grand plans to establish a colony on the large planet. NASA isn’t the only organization with the idea to establish human communities on Mars, however. For example, Elon Musk, chief technology officer of SpaceX, wants to colonize mars radically, with entire civilizations and new cultures altogether.
Another, Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, wants to develop a wheel to create artificial gravity, which would ideally create an environment in which human life could thrive on a planet so foreign to us as Mars. Unfortunately, as Dr. Opperman explained, human beings were not designed to live in space indefinitely. These endeavors will inevitably fail, because God has simply not designed us for it.

What happens to humans after exploration?

Space exploration, even in the short term, can have detrimental effects to the human body. Although there are countless health issues that can develop due to journeys into space, some of the most common disorders include balance disorders, cardiovascular deconditioning, decreased immune function, muscle atrophy, and bone loss.
Additionally, because of a lack of gravity, two major issues arise. Dr. Opperman informed the students that one such concern is that the bones aren’t being impacted by the body’s natural weight. If this weren’t concerning enough, a second issue is that blood moves differently in space as well- fluid no longer goes down the body, which causes the legs to become thinner, and for the head to grow in diameter.
Because of these health concerns, astronauts must exercise for at least 90 minutes per day simply to maintain muscle mass. Also, for every hour in space, those planning to enter into orbit must endure eight to ten hours in the appropriate training lab.

Another critical issue to consider while in space is radiation. Earth is designed to protect us from radiation, but in the two “top destination spots”- that is, the moon and mars- there exists no natural barriers with which to protect travelers from the impact of radiation. There are two major sources of radiation to consider as well. Solar radiation and galactic rays are both stronger than an unshielded human can withstand. In the nine month trip to Mars physical damage from the radiation alone would be detrimental to say the least.

Mankind’s reach into space pales in comparison to God’s glory.

It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. (Isa 40:22)

Our Almighty God has shown us His glory through the splendor of the universe that He created. Humans were not designed for space, at least not in our physical form. In the future, as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God, we will be able to admire the true beauty of the universe around us as our Father masterfully crafted 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.

Enhancing Interpersonal Communication Skills

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

In the forum, Mr. Ames focused on the concept of IPC (interpersonal communication) and shared his journey of taking a class on IPC to enhance his relationship with his wife, despite being married for a significant amount of time. He emphasized that effective communication begins with individuals who possess a clear understanding of their own identity and beliefs. Self-reflection and introspection play a vital role in becoming better communicators, but it is important to be aware of negative influences and actively replace negative thoughts with positive ones, drawing inspiration from biblical teachings.

Mr Ames stressed the significance of maintaining a positive and tranquil mindset for overall well-being, citing verses such as Philemon 4:8 and Deuteronomy 30:19 to support his point. He shared a personal anecdote where he demonstrated the importance of prioritizing service, assistance, and encouragement by asking his wife what she wanted to do, even when he initially did not feel willing to participate.

Furthermore, Mr. Ames introduced the “You and I” principle, suggesting a shift from accusatory language to expressing frustration or irritation as a means to encourage better communication. He also explored differences in communication patterns between males and females, acknowledging that while there are many similarities, one common complaint from females is that men often fail to listen, which led him to emphasize the significance of providing a listening ear, rather than solely offering solutions and recognizing the need for personal space.

To enhance interpersonal communication, Mr. Ames outlined five key principles:

  1. Practice biblical principles for loving communication. (Ephesians 4:11-15, 4:25, 4:29, Matthew 12:34, James 3:17, Proverbs 1:1, and Proverbs 9:10) These verses guide how to engage in communication that fosters love and understanding.
  2. Speak the truth in a loving manner rather than resorting to hateful speech. This involves conveying honesty and authenticity while maintaining a compassionate tone.
  3. Consider the emotions of the person you are conversing with and respond with grace. Understanding and empathizing with the emotions of others can lead to more meaningful and effective communication.
  4. Analyze your transactions and be mindful of interactions, such as parent-child, adult-adult, and child-child interactions. Recognizing the dynamics and outcomes of these interactions can help navigate conversations more effectively.
  5. Practice positive reinforcement by appreciating and acknowledging behaviors that are enjoyable or beneficial. By expressing gratitude and offering some form of reward or recognition, individuals are encouraged to continue engaging in positive communication patterns.

Additionally, Mr. Ames emphasized the importance of sharing your life with others, both through physical acts of assistance and through storytelling. Utilizing resources to help others and engaging in personal stories can deepen emotional connections and encourage increased connections within relationships.

The forum concluded with a reminder to love your neighbor and a call always to speak the truth in love while implementing these key principles. Mr. Ames highlighted the power of prayer in utilizing these principles effectively and maintaining a commitment to genuine and compassionate communication.

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.

A Brief History of the Predestination Doctrine

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

“For all men are not created on an equal footing, but for some eternal life is pre‑ordained, for others eternal damnation…”

-John Calvin (French theologian, pastor and reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation)

Mr. Ciesielka gave his forum on the topic of predestination. To begin, he referenced the book The Protestant Reformation, written by Dr. Meredith. Mr. Ciesielka stated that in his book, Dr. Meredith refers to the topic of predestination as a foundational principle of Calvinism, and a pillar of protestantism. He then pointed out that Martin Luther also espoused a wrong concept of predestination, as is evidenced by comments in Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans. Mr. Ciesielka noted that if Dr. Meredith, the late presiding evangelist of God’s church, emphasized this topic and spent time considering the foundational principles of this branch of theology, then this is something we should have a right understanding of. Because of its prevalence, the wrong concept sticks in the mind of many Christians. This is the basis upon which the false christian world has been built upon. 

What is the definition of Predestination?

Predestination, according to the Protestant Church, is the idea that everything has been pre-planned by God, it is unchangeable in any way, and there are those predestined to “go to hell” where they will suffer eternal damnation (the false teaching of “reprobation”), while there are others who are predestined to go to heaven. As Mr. Ciesielka reviewed, some of the earliest “Church fathers” like Augustine had in fact brought into their false-Christianity a fatalism inherited from ancient Babylon. By studying the true meaning of predestination as found in the Bible and as explained by God’s true Church through the decades, it becomes evident that these early “Church fathers” as well as those of the Protestant Reformation were, in fact, incorrect. 

What does the Bible say… Or not say?

According to our canonized scripture, the word ‘Proorizo’ (Strongs G4309) is the Greek word most commonly translated into “predestine” in the Bible, and it only appears in six verses. For example, in Romans 8:29–30 we read, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

The definition as we understand it, therefore, is God’s predetermination of a person to a specific purpose. Here we see an example where some are predestined to be called, while others, will be called later. As Mr. Ciesielka noted, it is important to understand and remember that to be “called” is not the same as to be pre-judged or pre-condemned. In this verse and elsewhere, the Bible does address predestination—however, it’s not what many religions teach it to be. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God pre-judges some to salvation and others to damnation. This verse in Romans makes that abundantly clear, as well as all other verses on this subject. This is a significant difference compared to what the Protestants teach. 

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.

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.

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.