It’s Your Fault—No Really, It Is.

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

Mr. Tyler Wayne gave the Living Education students a forum that he aimed to be applicable to any aspect of life. The topic he covered can apply to situations while living in the dorm (in the case of the students), at work, interacting with family members, or even while standing in line at the grocery store. 

His point was simple, but it is one that we all can struggle with from time to time.

We must take accountability for the things we can control.

What could we have done better?

His emphasis was on the idea that we all must acknowledge anything that we could have done in a scenario, and take responsibility for our shortcomings on that subject, regardless of how minor it may seem compared to the scenario at large. 

He gave the students a formula for ownership that can be applied to almost any scenario in which a conflict has arisen.

  1. We are to verbally apologize, using the words “I’m sorry”, “ it’s my fault”, or any other sincere variant.
  2. We must express what we’re saying sorry for, and identify part of the problem that’s our fault.
  3. We must explain what we’re going to do to fix the issue or change for it next time.
  4. Finally, we need to believe it, because empty words mean nothing. In fact, it makes things worse. 

At first, this mindset can seem unrealistic, because whenever things go wrong, we tend to blame others for the result. But once we assess a situation in an unbiased manner, we will recognize that we have more of a part to play in things that happen to us than we might think.

As an example, Mr. Wayne gave a scenario in which a student can’t get all their work done in school. Typically, the student immediately blames the teacher for being unrealistic or overbearing. Instead, the student can take responsibility and recognize what they can do differently. They could get better sleep, devote more time to schoolwork, or even lower their personal workload by dropping the class. Although that would be a drastic step, it is something that the student could consider in order to acknowledge their role in the situation. 

Real-life scenarios

In order to thoroughly get his point across, Mr. Wayne wrote down several scenarios, and had the students formulate an extreme ownership response that takes responsibility for each conflict that occurs. 

Scenario 1: 

Not taking ownership: ”You consistently forget to take out the trash.”

Taking ownership: “I’m sorry, I didn’t let you know when the trash needed to get thrown out. Also, I know the garbage isn’t always filled at consistent times, so it can be hard to monitor. Next time, I’ll let you know when it’s ready to be taken out.”

Scenario 2: 

Not taking ownership: “My boss didn’t give me the help I needed for a project I had to do.”

Taking ownership: “I’m sorry for failing to accomplish my task. I didn’t ask for the assistance I needed when I realized there wasn’t enough information and resources. Next time, I’ll be more proactive in asking for assistance when I need it.”

Practice makes perfect

As we do this, we will get used to taking responsibility, and with experience it will get easier over time. However, as with anything else, human pride and tendencies to gloat can impact how well our efforts are received by the other party. 

So what happens if our attempt to be mature doesn’t work? What if the person is antagonistic and blames us for what happened, even if they had something to do with the situation as well?

Accept it! We should not let ego get in the way. After all, they’re only agreeing with what you’re saying. If we truly believe what we’re saying in our apology, we will be able to put our pride aside and be the bigger person in almost every conflict we are involved with.

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.

Failing Forward

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

“I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.” -Thomas A. Edison 

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” -Vince Lombardi

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you.” -Walt Disney

Mr. Rick Stafford gave the Living Education students an inspiring forum, starting by describing the lives of notable people who went through hardship. The people he described are among countless individuals who have failed at something, but turned their lives around for the better. They did not let their failures define them; rather, they persevered and used their struggles as learning opportunities.

Failure and success: what do those words mean?

When discussing failure, Mr. Stafford explained, it becomes imperative to understand exactly what failure is. A popular definition of the word is a lack of success. But in that case, what exactly is success? Is it wealth, a good career, a happy family, or materialistic goods? Or is it something else entirely? Simply put, success is whatever you define it as for yourself. Your success is not dependent on the opinions of others.

Not your parents.

Not your friends. 

Not society. 

Regardless of how we define success, as individuals called into God’s truth, it should always center around living God’s way of life and doing what God would be proud of.

Why doesn’t everyone succeed?

Life can be hard. There are almost infinite hurdles that we as humans can face that hinder our forward trajectory. Some reasons include:

  • Their environment
  • Health
  • Intellect
  • Economy
  • Their childhood
  • Who they married
  • Wrong career choice
  • Bad habits

Of course, many of these reasons are out of our control. But it is a lack of discipline that prevents us from overcoming our hurdles and doing the best we can with what we were given. If we can’t control our minds, it will inevitably control us. This lack of control leads to the very failure we are so afraid of. 

“If only…” is a common statement among people who suffer from many failures. If only I had been born into money, had more time, better health, or better luck.

Mr. Stafford informed the students of a harsh truth: These are all excuses. 

But thankfully, once we understand our excuses, we can learn to apply the concept that our thoughts become our reality. In other words, the things we blame become the things that actually slow us down.

Can’t never did anything.

Many successful people had failures, but worked through them.They analyzed their failures, learned how to overcome them, and became better because of them. 

In Hebrews 11 is a list of people who failed in some way. But at the exact same time, it is also a list of people who learned how to overcome their failures.

“Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” Matt 24:46

What characterizes a failure?

In considering these points, two main reasons for failure can be gleaned.

For one, failures have no real purpose in life. Another main reason is that someone can become afraid, and therefore don’t want to try to improve their situations, whatever it may be.

In addition, certain characteristics are found in people who can be described as “failures”.

  • Failures lack persistence. Rather, people who succeed have an abundance of tenacity and sticktoitiveness.
  • Failures lack conviction. Instead, we must recognize what we want and go for it.
  • Failures rationalize. They concoct reasons why they gave up and couldn’t do what they aimed for.
  • Failures dismiss past mistakes. But people who succeed learn from their mistakes instead.
  • Failures have a lack of self discipline. They lack self control, and give into their feelings.
  • Failures have poor self esteem and lack no self worth. They don’t do anything for themselves to be proud of. 
  • Finally, Failures have a fatalistic attitude. They don’t accept responsibility and blame others instead.

The strongest people are the ones who overcome. They weren’t in a good place to begin, but they got there eventually. 

Once we know our definition of success for ourselves, use God’s tools and knowledge to gain it. 

God knows what He’s talking about!

Always remember: we’re just children under God. We may fall, but we should use the guidance of our Father to bring us up and take us where we want to be.

There is really only one way to be a failure. That is to quit.
“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” -John C. Maxwell

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.

Ark Builders

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

“May you live in interesting times”

Dr. Douglas Winnail began his forum for the Living Education students by reading this ancient Chinese “curse”. Although it has lost its spiritual nature, the concept still holds true to this day.

We live in increasingly secular and materialistic times. Before, religion was an integral part of society. Now, it is effectively nonexistent. The Bible is disregarded and laughed at, being considered a compilation of children’s stories and tales that simply never happened. 

However, despite the rapidly increasing disregard for the Bible as a reputable source of wisdom, the world is still fascinated with the story of Noah’s ark.

The ark was a gigantic vessel.

The ark took about 100 years to build, and many elements and workhands were needed to construct the building in its entirety.

Dr. Winnail explained that, among many people, they would have needed people to act as timber cutters, pitch appliers, timber transporters, timber finishers, food growers and gatherers, animal handlers, among many, many others.

Since we have historical record of where the vessel finally landed- Mt. Ararat in Turkey, as seen in Genesis 8:4– many people have attempted to locate fragments of it even to this day.

But even though people claim to have found pieces of it, it is highly unlikely because there has since been 4000 years worth of time for the wood and all other materials to have decomposed.

There are a number of life-sized models of the ark around the world today, including one in northern Kentucky, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Wisconsin Dells to name just a few. And although they are not perfectly accurate, just being able to witness the sheer size and scale of the models is enough to put us in awe of its magnitude.

Which story is right?

The story of a worldwide flood is a popular one around the world, so much so that it has been adapted to regional myths. There are legends from around the world of an ark and a flood, with people and animals being rescued. In fact, there are over 270 versions of the account. Some of the origin countries include Persia, Greece, Egypt, Syria, Italy, India, and Russia, just to name a few.

Although there are many versions, one of the most highly debated comparative legends is the Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia. It contains an account of a great flood, similar to the Biblical account in Genesis. However, there are major differences, and to even consider the Epic as the original account is unrealistic.

  • In the Epic, human noise disturbed the gods, however, in the Bible, man’s folly and human sin was what angered God.
  • The Mesopotamian ‘ark’ was an unstable cube, but the true ark was as big as a modern ocean liner.
  • In the Epic, it rained for only seven days and was gone in one. In the Biblical account, there was rain for 40 days and receded in 150.
  • The Mesopotamian hero was saved by his own wisdom and courage, but in the Bible, Noah was blessed with God’s mercy and was saved by his righteous character.
  • The Mesopotamian gods were selfish and deceptive, but in stark contrast, the true God of the Bible is righteous and merciful.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

Simply put, if the Bible is credible, so is the flood story. All scripture is inspired by God, so we are not to be deceived by the legends of this world. We should all make sure to study history accurately to make these determinations for ourselves!

Modern parallels 

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matt 24:38-39

There are an alarming number of similarities to the days of Noah and our modern today. Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and worked to show the world the right way. But those who didn’t listen were destroyed in the flood. Although many recognize the problems in the world today, human solutions to the decline of society such as lighting candles, buying guns and gold, voting for who they consider to be the ‘right person’, running and hiding, and praying to false gods, are simply not adequate to solve these problems.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16
Only those who do the will of God will be saved. We have been chosen as those individuals to bear fruit, and we are to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus. Prepare NOW to show the world a better way.

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.

Look Beyond Your World

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

Mr. Lawdi Ferreira began his forum by explaining a story from his own life that may be all too familiar to many of us. 

He explained that there was a period of time in his early life where he was terrified about the return of Christ, which he learned about according to the teachings of mainstream Christianity.

According to these teachings, some would be raptured to heaven, but everyone else would burn in hellfire. This scared him, because he had friends and family who he loved, dreams of success, hopes for his life, and goals for the future. 

At his youthful age, he didn’t want the return to happen in order to protect the things he held dear to him. He told this story because we may feel a similar way about the true reality of the impending return of Christ, and we may feel extremely guilty about it.

“I want Christ to return, but not quite yet.”

“The world is bad,” we might say. “But I’m having a good time! I’m still able to do what I want.” 

In order to begin the process of putting this mindset behind us, we must learn to see the bigger picture.

Start looking past our own lives, and look at what’s actually going on. We are bombarded with things in our current life on which to focus, and although it is not an issue to pay attention to life in the present day, Satan’s very mission is to distract us from the future that’s coming and prevent us from prioritizing. 

It is also imperative to consider that this life is very temporary. Even when things are going right for us according to the desires of our lives, tragedy can strike in an instant. So even if we get what we want, things can collapse rapidly. We must recognize that there is more to life than our own miniscule lives. 

“There is a way that seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12

Look at the realities around us.

We must all learn to look at the reality of what’s happening. Look beyond our personal world, and see the flip side. And if it helps for perspective’s sake, consider what happens to other young people. Young lives can end. Young people can be victims of violent crime. And young people do not deserve these tragedies, the same way we would not deserve them happening to us. 

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

The world is sick, and it desperately needs God’s return. God desires for us to be inspirations to people for His way of life. When we look beyond our personal world, we realize how much people long for the Kingdom, whether or not they can put a name to it. They need their tears wiped away, and the Kingdom will provide that. 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18-19 

Embracing our youth

Just because the world desperately needs Christ’s return doesn’t mean we are to avoid making plans for our future. We can plan for marriage. We can prepare to have children. We can hope for professional success. Goals like these aren’t foolish to have; rather, aspirations like these are encouraged for us in multiple places in the Bible!

“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

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

God did desire for us to enjoy life. But the key is to remember our creator and our personal relationship with Him and not to let it distract us from the darkness of the world. We must have God at our forefront. Enjoy our blessing of life and of youth while we have it, but strive to have fun God’s way. God’s way of fun does not require repentance afterwards. 

“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.” Ecclesiastes 11:9

The Kingdom as a Motivator

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13

We must keep the vision real and alive in our eyes. As seen through numerous accounts in the Bible of people who had to persevere through extreme hardship, having a vision of the Kingdom is the single most powerful motivator in the world. By keeping it in our hearts, it will guide us to become the best possible versions of ourselves and become overcomers. 

Go out, enjoy ourselves, but always remember…

“…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matt 6:33.

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.

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.