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Second Thoughts: God Likes Technology

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God


No, really, He does.

I mean, not all technology equally—the commonly memorized Isaiah 2:4 makes that pretty obvious. The fact that in His government, people will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” shows that He’s more in favor of the pruning hook, plowshare, tractor side of technology than the sword, spear, machine gun side.

But to suppose that the Millennium is going to be Henry David Thoreau’s dream come true is to forget how very old the concept of technology is. Even the Bible is a type of technology, since scrolls, codices, and smartphone apps all had to be invented at some point. If God were against technology, it certainly wouldn’t make much sense for Him to use it to preserve and spread His inspired word.

God’s Word Through Tech

Such thoughts ran through my head as Mr. Daniel Guidry, IT Manager at LCG’s Charlotte headquarters, gave his assembly on, among other things, how thoroughly integrated God’s Work on Earth is with technology. Actually, every office I’ve seen in this building has a computer in it—and according to Mr. Guidry, God’s Work is being furthered by the tiny computers we have in our pockets, too, since more than 50 percent of visitors to our websites visit through their phones.

Mr. Wyatt Ciesielka and Mr. Travis Pate working on Tomorrow’s World telecast

Not only does technology help us to take God’s work further than ever, it also allows us to be even better stewards of it. There was a time when a dog, little knowing the mischief it was doing, could set fire to twenty years’ worth of notes, and that was it: no more notes, unless you went through the time-intensive process of writing them all again. Now, we can upload documents and video files to the cloud, and back up entire databases four and five times over. The Church has backups for its backups, with multiple servers in North Carolina to handle web traffic and a server in Canada specifically for disaster recovery. As Mr. Guidry noted, “If this building burns down tomorrow, we can restore our systems from the Canadian offices and the business can continue.”

Faith and Prudence

More advanced technology usually means more ways of protecting the work God’s people are doing, and while our faith is completely in Him to sustain us and His mission, He’s definitely not against the time-honored trick of having a backup plan. Even David, one of the most faith-driven people to ever live, “chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook… and his sling was in his hand” (1 Samuel 17:40). Did he trust in God to take down Goliath? Absolutely. Was he about to “faithfully” head into battle with nothing but his bare hands? Not a chance. He took, along with his faith, his sling (technology) and four extra stones in case he missed with the first one. Faith works best when accompanied by prudence, and technology makes greater prudence possible. 

God uses tech, and He always has. Of course, Satan uses it as well, and we would be prudent to acknowledge that every product of his world, be it comic book, musical instrument, chocolate bar, or IT innovation, may have at least a little of his influence in it. But God’s willingness, even readiness, to use some of those same products for good reveals that at least a little of His influence is behind human invention, too. God likes technology—if we’re using it to glorify Him, of course.

Second Thoughts: Thank God for Personalities

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God


Personality can sometimes be a bit of a touchy subject, since… well, look at the word. Most of it is literally “personal.” Personality is personal, so approaching it as a topic inevitably asks you to look at yourself and wonder, “Is mine okay? What do people think of it? What do I think of it?”

This was the subject Mr. Richard Ames broached in his recent LivingEd-Charlotte Assembly, and he emphasized that while God intended none of us to be unique in character (one’s character being defined by how closely it resembles God’s), He absolutely intended us to be unique in personality. 

If you’re like me, that can be a little confusing, so consider the example of the introvert and the extravert. Some would say, “Well, that’s a matter of character, since God wants us to be friendly and sociable,” but that’s really missing the point. Yes, introverts can be perpetually silent and thus spend all of their time either holed up in their bedrooms or creeping people out with thousand-yard stares—but extraverts can also be perpetually obnoxious and abrasive, making everyone around them wish they would just be quiet a second. There’s a dark side to both of these personalities, and whether or not someone falls into it is a matter of character.

More Than One Kind of Sociable

A sociable extravert can make a group feel energized and excited, bringing people together in a lively discussion and making everyone in that group interested in contributing to it. Extraverts gain energy from being around people, so groups are like giant batteries for them. By combining that energy with the character traits of kindness and empathy, they can lead a whole group of people into a genuinely great time, fulfilling and productive work, or even a lively, respectful, enlightening debate. Some of the most fascinating discussions I’ve ever been a part of were begun by sociable extraverts who started things off with, “Hey, I’ve got a question for you guys…”

Introverts don’t do groups. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in people. An introvert spends energy on people, rather than gaining energy from them, so in a group setting, it’s like every individual in that group is taking energy from one source—the introvert is drained faster, and no recipient of that energy is getting very much. That’s why even sociable introverts might be quiet and reserved in group settings—their element is focused conversation where their social batteries can be spent gradually on one individual. A sociable introvert is interested in making a person feel safe, valued, and heard. Some of the most uplifting conversations I’ve ever had have been with sociable introverts who generously spent their energy on me.

The Vast Character of God

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that—people are deep, and most are way too complicated to just be labeled “introvert,” “extravert,” or even “ambivert.”

But God bestowed an incredible blessing when He made such a range of personalities, enabling His perfect character to be expressed in a variety of ways, ensuring that we would never be an army of righteous robots. Who knows—maybe Christ and the Father even have different personalities. Maybe Christ, as the pre-incarnate Spokesman for the God Family, is more of the extravert, while the Father, as the one we pray to one-on-one, is more of the introvert. 

Or maybe not—such things are mere speculation. Regardless, the image and character of God is vast enough to house a multitude of personalities, and we can all be sincerely, deeply thankful for that fact.

Second Thoughts: Lamps, Not Torches

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Department, Living Church of God

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light,” said Jesus Christ in Luke 8:16.

Here’s a thought: They had portable torches way before Christ’s ministry. Why didn’t He say, “No one who has lit a torch sticks it under a bed, but waves it around so that everyone can see him”? I mean, we’re supposed to make our spiritual lights obvious, right? Why are we lamps, not torches?

After hearing Mr. Michael DeSimone’s Assembly on how God’s people are making encouraging progress in getting the Gospel to the world, part of that scripture jumped at me in a new way. Mr. DeSimone showed us that when the titles of certain Tomorrow’s World telecasts are changed, made a little more “punchy,” those telecasts start racking up the YouTube views in a way they simply weren’t before. As it turns out, “clickbait” titles are used because people actually do click on them. Furthermore, when ads for free booklets are kept to a minimum on YouTube, Millennials such as myself tend to stick around longer, since we tend to appreciate ads about as much as Dracula would appreciate fresh garlic bread.

What We Have in Common

Those who have lit their spiritual lamps set them on lampstands, Christ said, “that those who enter may see the light.” Hopefully, those entering our houses are doing so because they actually want to be there—they already find us interesting, and want to get to know us better. We’re not to go out and coerce anyone into entering our houses, as if Christ expected us to be all “You will get in my house, you will look at my lamp, and you will like it.” 

When we’re trying to befriend someone, or even convince someone, where do we start? With what we have in common with them, is where. We don’t open with, “Howdy stranger, that sure is some sinful music you seem to be listening to—interested in hearing why it’s completely of the devil?” No, because no one thinking they have nothing in common with you is going to enter your house, and they’ll never see the light of your lamp. 

An Inviting Light

We’re to keep the lamp in the house, where it belongs, letting those who enter see the light—not bring it outside to shove it in unsuspecting faces. After we’ve made friends based on mutual interests, then we can look for opportunities to show them the Gospel in ways that speak to those interests. They’re our friends, or at least our acquaintances—they’ve “entered our house,” so to speak. And once they’re in there, it works even better if they notice the lamp before we point it out, so we can respond to their comments: “Oh, that? That’s my lamp. It’s actually extremely important to me—the most important thing in my life, in fact,” as opposed to, “And over here, you can see my truly amazing lamp, take a closer look, bask in its light, baaaaaaask.

We’re lamps, not torches, because lamps are friendly, even intimate. Torches… well, there’s a reason they’ve often been accompanied by pitchforks. If we strive to reflect God in everything we do, and truly care about preaching His message to the world, we’ll do it in a way that will reach the world—not with the invasive, antagonistic light of a torch, but with the inviting, loving light of a lamp on a stand.

Second Thoughts: The Culture We Share

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God


Most of us know Matthew 24:14 verbatim: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” It’s encouraging on many levels, especially its use of the word “will.” The Gospel will be preached to all the nations. The end will come. There are no possibilities in this—only certainties that we can, and should, believe in with our might.

But why does the Gospel need to be preached to all the nations? As we well know, God’s not opening everyone’s mind now, so why is He emphatic about the Gospel being so widespread? With such a massive number of people hearing the Truth without the chance to internalize it, why must we bother making sure they hear it to begin with?

Our Sisters and Brothers

The answer is way too multifaceted for this post, but a small part of it struck me after hearing Mr. Peter Nathan’s recent Assembly on the Work in Africa. As he related the unique challenges, opportunities, situations, and brethren in that part of the world, I couldn’t help thinking that although I may be different in so many ways from everyone born and raised in any part of Africa, the African brethren and I nevertheless share a culture.

Feast of Tabernacles, Living Church of God: Kendu Bay, Kenya, 2017

Those truly in God’s Church are all part of the same unifying culture—we all read from the same book (various translations notwithstanding), worship on the same day of the week, abstain from the same meats, believe in the same upcoming eternity, share the same ultimate destiny.

There are Church members in Africa whose languages I have no idea how to speak, and yet I have more in common with each one of them than I do with almost everyone I’ll pass on the road while driving home today. Those who strive to worship God in spirit and truth inhabit a common ground that transcends all the cultural boundaries that would otherwise be impenetrable. That’s how we can call each other brothers and sisters—because in every meaningful sense, we are exactly that.

That’s already beautiful, but it becomes doubly so when you consider that God chose each and every one of us. He wanted His people in North America to be siblings to His people in Africa. He wanted Saints in Australia to be family to Saints in South America. He wanted His begotten children in Europe to see His begotten children in Asia and recognize, “Here are my sisters and brothers.”

Why?

Harmoniously Different

It’s funny—I can’t help but think of a line from Ratatouille. Yes, the animated movie about the rat chef. Not exactly a film devoted to capturing reality, but I’ve always thought there was some truth in the phrase, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

Feast of Tabernacles, Living Church of God: Kendu Bay, Kenya, 2017

Maybe Jesus Christ had something similar in mind when He assured His disciples that the Gospel “will be preached as a witness to all the nations.”

Sure, not everyone will believe that Gospel, but those who do believe it will be made up of people from all over the world, proving that all worldly cultures pose not the slightest obstacle to the culture that is God’s Way.

Belief in God’s Truth doesn’t make us all the same. It wouldn’t be God’s Truth if it did, since God loves the individuality of each of His children. Belief in God’s Truth makes us unified—different, but harmoniously so. Although not everyone can currently become a Saint, a Saint can come from anywhere.


Second Thoughts: In Response to Ignorance

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God


If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the Church of God, so you’ve heard sermons before. You’ve probably heard quite a few Bible studies, too, like the one Mr. Mario Hernandez gave for the most recent Assembly, in which he powerfully emphasized the command and the need for us to read from God’s word every morning and every evening.

ben-white-197668-unsplash

Messages like that, instructional ones that point out things required of us, are given for what should be an obvious reason: Not everybody knows about every requirement. Case in point, I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon about how we shouldn’t eat one another, because that’s common knowledge—the world at large pretty much agrees that if I’m hungry, you’re not an option. But messages about not hating one another, for example, will always be needed, because although that’s required of us too, not everyone knows it—it’s a bit easier to forget than the law against cannibalism.

All humans are ignorant. We’re not to try to be, but it doesn’t make much sense to deny the fact that every one of us simply doesn’t know a lot of stuff, including a lot that’s biblical. The Bible’s not exactly light beach reading, and we wouldn’t need ministers if we could all just go through it and internalize everything we’ll ever need to know.

Yet how many of us, after hearing an enlightening message of instruction, feel terrible about having not known something? Maybe we haven’t thought to read the Bible every morning and evening. Maybe it never occurred to us that we need to keep a third tithe. Maybe it never crossed our minds that a daily part of our vocabulary might be a word we really shouldn’t say.

Nineveh’s Response

We didn’t know. But now that we do, what should our reaction be? For some, the first reaction is shame, as though they’re somehow stupid for not having made these connections themselves. Certainly, a godly sorrow is appropriate, because a sin committed in ignorance is still a sin, but if we sincerely ask God for forgiveness and determine to change whatever it is we’ve been doing or not doing, what’s the use of guilt-tripping ourselves over what, until recently, we had no idea was a problem?

Nineveh’s a good example of the right reaction. When it was made abundantly clear that major change was essential, the king of Nineveh didn’t wallow in guilt and think, “Well, we’ve been seriously missing something, so, I guess we’re terrible people who deserve whatever we have coming to us.” His response was almost the opposite—“let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” (Jonah 3:8-9).

What Defines Us

Nineveh accepted that they’d been ignorant of something important, and they determined to change. No “I can’t believe I didn’t know, I’m so stupid and awful”—just a desire to make the most out of what they now knew, and even, in their own way, an understanding that God is a merciful rewarder of heartfelt repentance.

So, if we hear a message that makes us aware of something wrong we’ve been doing, or something right we haven’t been doing, Nineveh might be a good place for our thoughts to go. God’s a whole lot more interested in our future than He is in our past, so we’re not defined by our ignorant mistakes—we’re defined by what we do about them.

Second Thoughts: The 25 Percent

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God


A psychologist by the—awesome—name of Solomon Asch conducted a super unnerving experiment in 1951. He had a group of eight people look at four drawn lines—three “comparison” lines and one “target” line.

Each member of the group had to say, out loud, which of the comparison lines they thought matched the target one in length, and this was repeated with eighteen sets of lines. It wasn’t hard; the right answers were intended to be really obvious.

The catch—there’s always a catch with these tricky psychologists—was that most of the time, seven of those eight people purposely gave blatantly wrong answers. Asch had told them to. The unsuspecting eighth participant was the real focus of the study—would he, despite the obviously wrong answers of all his peers, conform to them, answering in the same way? Asch conducted this experiment over and over again, and found that 75 percent of these participants did, at least once, do exactly this.

Bulletproof Evidence

For his student Assembly, Mr. Ames let us watch a movie (I love it when people do that), Unlocking the Mystery of Life. It’s a documentary presenting several scientists and their reasons for embracing the theory that our mind-bogglingly complex universe had, itself, a mind behind it. It’s right here, if you want to watch it.

That the universe was intelligently designed happens to be true,

and like a lot of true things, it has a plethora of compelling pieces of evidence in its favor. Irreducible complexity, the Design Inference, the fact that proteins and DNA can’t possibly make sense without each other—you’ve heard the arguments. They’re good. Even, perhaps, better than, good—they could very well be bulletproof. Just as bulletproof as the reasons for why the Bible is definitely God’s inspired word, and for why God’s true Church is emphatically not Catholic or Protestant.

But as Solomon Asch demonstrated, something being obviously right doesn’t mean we won’t abandon it for what everyone else says is right.

The Target Line

Asch found that people tend to conform for one of two reasons. Either they know they’re wrong and are okay with that, because “At least I won’t be ridiculed,” or they honestly believe that if most people are saying something, that something must be true.

Neither of these influences make a whole lot of sense, but they are, undeniably, influences, and those who try to tear us away from the God of the Bible make great use of both. Such people have also been told to give the wrong answers, but by someone infinitely more nefarious than Solomon Asch—and they actually believe the wrong answers they’re giving.

Encouragingly, in Asch’s experiment, 25 percent of participants consistently refused to conform to the wrong answers of those in their groups. The advantage we have over them is that we know exactly what’s going on; God’s word tells us that the others in our “group” are spewing fake info, blinded by a spiritual veil and victims of a truth-deprived society. With that knowledge, we can be confident that we aren’t wrong; there is a God, He did inspire the Bible, and we are in His Church.

As for ridicule, since the Designer of reality informs us that we’re not stupid, I think we can safely ignore Richard Dawkins & Friends saying otherwise. Like the 25 percent in Asch’s experiment, we can be confident and unyielding. The line that includes God, His word, and His Church, obviously matches the target line—no matter what anyone says.

Second Thoughts: Satan’s Trap for the Insecure

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God


Dr. Douglas Winnail’s recent assembly addressed that Satan uses worldly persecution to lure away those who aren’t unshakably grounded in the truth.

Scripture confirms this, and we all need to constantly guard against the anti-Christian nature of Satan’s world. But those of us who struggle with occasional or even frequent feelings of insecurity—who are just as harsh to ourselves as anyone in the world could ever be to us—may need to guard against something else, too.

While such individuals generally don’t like to talk about them, there are moments when being in the Church can make us uncomfortable. We don’t regret our calling—we’re grateful for it, truly. We know this is the right way, but we feel unworthy of walking it.

For those with frequent insecurity, this state of mind is too often the norm—pervasive and crushing. They look at their fellow firstfruits, and because most of our sins are committed in the dark quiet of our own private lives, everyone around them looks better at being good than they “know” they are.

What Tempts Us

Then comes a shock. You get out there—into college, the workforce, wherever—and you discover that people don’t hate you. Your beliefs that you feared would come across as insane to everyone are viewed as interesting by some. What you thought would be seen as self-righteousness is taken as respectability. People don’t think you’re bigoted or foolish, they think you’re fascinating. Intriguing. Good.

That’s truly hard to resist. Satan knows each of us better than we know ourselves, and in the case of those who feel they’ll never be as good as God wants them to be, the devil knows that they don’t particularly like themselves—but that they long to. He knows that, because they’re used to persecuting themselves, persecution from others may not so easily tempt them into leaving the Church.

But praise might.

Eventually, those with such insecurities eating at them may be offered an opportunity for something that will compromise God’s Way—perhaps by the very people who were praising them before. Assured by their human nature that it will make them into someone they, themselves, will finally be able to accept, the immediate, fascinating option is to bite into that fruit, because it looks and—temporarily—is delicious.

The other option doesn’t look quite so promising: resist, struggle, and go back to a Church filled with people they feel unworthy to be among. Pass the fruit up, and walk back into the daunting, lonely garden.

Our Father’s Promise

But if we allow ourselves to think deeply about our calling, God can lead us to a conclusion that becomes incredibly freeing.

As Mr. Richard Ames has often reminded us, Christ points out that none of us are truly good: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17). In this life, we never will be fully “good.” We are on this earth to learn what “good” really means, because frankly, we haven’t a clue. If we did, we’d never consider anyone in the Church “better” than we are.

Those of us who tend to be insecure are in training to become what we most long to be: Worthwhile. Valuable. That’s the point of all this—to do our best, which isn’t much, and be rewarded with His best, His perfection. In his world, Satan offers us something that isn’t one billionth as rewarding, but is, as Yoda might say, “quicker, easier, more seductive.”

Our Father and His Son are the only Beings in existence who actually know what it is to be truly good, because it started with Them. Incredibly, they want to share it with us. The praise and esteem we must refuse now “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We simply have to finish the race without keeling over. As long as we do, no matter what we place, our Father will carry our gasping, aching remains to the reward. He’s promised to make us good, one day. Right now, we have to show Him that we trust Him to complete the good work He’s started in us.

Dr. Winnail’s assembly message was absolutely true. Being grounded in the truth can protect us from faltering under persecution—even when that persecution comes from ourselves.

Second Thoughts: Respect His Image

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God


We, a bunch of Freshman English majors, eyes already mostly glazed-over from forty minutes of syllabus reading, refocused ourselves as our professor firmly told us, “Every time we read a piece of literature in this class, you are not allowed to say it’s bad. You are allowed to say that you don’t like it, that you don’t understand it, even that you fundamentally disagree with it so much that you want to vomit. But you can’t say it’s bad, and you can’t say it’s stupid; respect the author enough to assume they knew what they were doing.”

In this week’s assembly on how politeness and protocol can—and should—be used to show love to our fellow human beings, Mr. Richard Ames touched on the fact that every single one of those human beings is valuable.

That’s so easy to say, isn’t it? “Every human being is valuable.” Short, simple, definitive—should be easy to remember. And we all probably forget it every single day, as if we fail to respect the Author enough to assume He knew what He was doing.

No One is Fair Game

We can probably all think of ways we dismiss people as being without value, even if we only do it in our minds. “Whatever. I don’t care what *name* thinks,” we might tell ourselves, forgetting that we really only stop caring about anything when it ceases to have value to us. “I consider you worthless,” may sound a lot more devastating than “I don’t care what you think,” but if we’re honest, don’t both essentially mean the same thing? In many ways, people are their thoughts and opinions—if we devalue those, we devalue the person.

Knowing that every human being is made in God’s image, we can sometimes be tempted to think that image is wasted on certain people whose value we really have a hard time seeing, especially those we don’t know personally. Satan sometimes uses people neck-deep in terrible lifestyles to trick us into thinking that it’s right to devalue those people. Is there anyone we subconsciously consider “fair game” for name-calling, insults, mockery, indifference—even if we don’t “say it to their face”? If so, that consideration definitely isn’t coming from God.

The Image of God

We know God made all of us, and we know He doesn’t make mistakes—but if we view anyone as being without value, we’re not really internalizing those facts. Now, in the familiar phrase (oft-repeated by Mr. Wallace Smith), “don’t get me wrong”—there’s only one right way to live, and the vast majority of people in the world don’t live it.  Ungodly actions, beliefs, or lifestyles are, obviously, never to be valued. But even the people who completely stray from His path are still worth more than we can imagine—just as much as are those who have stayed on His path but just really, really bug us.

Before an artist starts creating anything, there’s often an image in their head of what they want the finished product to look like.

Our being made “in the image of God” means that we have the shape that He has, yes—but it could also mean that we’re each made according to a specific image He had in His perfect mind.

“Look,” He might say, “This person doesn’t have to be your favorite. You don’t have to agree with everything they do and say—you can even wholeheartedly disagree with a lot of it. But they’re not worthless. I made them. Respect Me, the Author of all, enough to assume I knew what I was doing when I did.”


Second Thoughts: He’s God Because He’s Right!

by Thomas White | Editorial Staff, Living Church of God

Assembly by Gerald Weston

Here’s a weird little question:

If you believe that I, Thomas White, exist, but you also think that I’m a 47-year-old albino pirate who lives in Saskatoon, do you really believe in me? Not really, no. You might believe someone named Thomas White exists, but that someone’s description is emphatically not of me. Honestly, I would probably rather you didn’t believe in my existence at all than believe I’m completely different from who I actually am. I’d venture to guess that God feels similarly.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

– Hebrews 11:6, New King James Version

When you define Truth

During this week’s assembly, one of the many topics Mr. Gerald Weston touched on was that of moral relativism—the increasingly widespread belief that what is morally right and true depends on what situation you’re in, how you feel about what you’re doing, how you’re feeling today overall, how your ancestors felt, etc. What strikes me as terrifying about this philosophy is that certain atheists aren’t the only ones who embrace it; many people who claim to believe in God also find it possible to believe that “My truth is my truth, yours is yours, theirs is theirs, and it’s all good.”

They may believe in God’s existence, but it’s not a belief that He’s perfect, or that He represents universal Truth… so is it really a belief in Him?

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

– Revelation 21:8, New King James Version

Dangerous Unbelief

I’ve wondered about the “unbelieving” included among those who earn the second death. By that point, the Millennium will have come and gone—you would think not believing in God’s existence would be as impossible as not believing in the existence of fingernails! That’s what makes moral relativism so scary, though. The “unbelieving” probably won’t be denying that God exists, but they may well go down refusing to believe that He’s right. “Your truth is different from my truth, Mr. LORD, and if I have to die in a fire for my truth, so be it. You’re not right just because you’re God.”

That’s a horrifying attitude, but it’s still possible for us to be affected by it—maybe in ways we don’t even realize.

God is Right

Discussing His way of life, we can say things like, “God makes the rules” and “Because God says so,” and neither of those statements are incorrect, but they also apply a certain arbitrary, “might makes right” nature to God’s decrees, and that misses a fundamental point. He didn’t decide, “You know what, there are gonna be commandments, and there are gonna be ten, because ten’s a nice number, I like that number,” and then make a universe where ten commandments would fit. The Father and the Word knew, before making a single thing, that there would have to be ten specific commandments, that there would have to be a Bible, that every just decree in it would have to be there. Because all of that was right.

He’s not just right because He’s God—He’s God because He’s right. If we believe He’s ever anything besides right, we’d probably be better off not believing He exists at all.

“He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.”

– Psalm 33:5, New Living Translation

Second Thoughts: Joy Takes Generosity

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Dept., Living Church of God

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand.”

– 1 Chronicles 29:14, Holman Christian Standard Bible

Assembly by Dexter Wakefield

Sometimes I wonder how Christ and the Father can always be happy.

We read throughout Scripture of Their various emotions—anger, sorrow, hatred for sin, even jealousy over those who give their lives to idols. I can sometimes forget that all of these emotions are secondary at best for members of the God Family, because joy, being a fruit of the Spirit, is always first and foremost. Why? What makes God consistently, wholeheartedly happy?

A lot of things, probably, but Mr. Dexter Wakefield wrapped up this week’s assembly by reminding me of one. Spending only a few minutes on it, he offered the quick, powerful analogy that God is running a family business we in His Church are training to inherit, and His business revolves around giving.

It’s God’s Pleasure

Some say you don’t need to enjoy your job, but apparently, God does. His job is giving, He’s never off the clock, and He loves it. Every millisecond of every day, He’s giving us something. He is not obligated to give anything, but He gives everything, and like the ultimate Chick-Fil-A employee, it’s His pleasure.

So, is it ours?

“Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.”

– 2 Corinthians 8:12, New Living Translation

Non-stop Giving?

As Mr. Wakefield pointed out, if we don’t enjoy giving, we’d better, because as Kings and Priests in God’s Kingdom, we’ll be giving on a pretty much everlasting basis. And sure, you think, “But in the Kingdom it’ll be easy. We’ll be God—if we want to give something, we can just poof it into existence like a magician at a soup kitchen.”

And maybe that’s true, but we’ll be spending all of our time giving of ourselves—giving of our wisdom, energy, encouragement, help, and peace. As humans, we can’t give 24/7—we physically need our own sleep, food, mental rest, etc. But if we’re supposed to one day give non-stop for eternity, shouldn’t we be taking every feasible opportunity to give now?

I have to admit that too often, I don’t. A major weakness of mine is time-hoarding. I’ll give twenty bucks to a stranger with a sad face, but I get fidgety listening for twenty minutes to a sad story. That’s something I need to work on, because God endlessly gives time—all of the time we have. We need patience to truly give, and we need to truly give to have real joy.

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

– Proverbs 11:25, New Living Translation

God’s Business is Giving

God promises that we’ll have abundance if we give to others, but I don’t think that means He’ll make us find replacement cash in our jean pockets after we give someone on the street ten dollars, or that He’ll find a way to give us two hours of free time after we spend an hour unexpectedly helping someone out. No, those who refresh others are refreshed just by having done so. Knowing you’ve been a good part of someone’s life, even for just a few minutes, can fill your entire day with a sense of prosperity.

If we’re having trouble with joy, we may need to grow in generosity—God is never unhappy, and in part, that’s because He’s never not giving.

He has a business to run, after all.