Second Thoughts: The Setup, Not the Game

Author: Thomas White | Student at LivingEd-Charlotte

“Life is tough, and as life gets tough, with bills, and health problems, and problems with children, and neighbors, and bosses, [some] get distracted.” ~ Mr. Kenneth Frank

LivingEd-Charlotte: Student Assembly | March 28, 2019

Mr. Ken Frank packed a lot into his assembly, this week. We heard of how we’ll be leading God’s Church before we know it (no pressure or anything), how crucial it is that we don’t divide our lives into the sacred and the secular, how we might retain a biblical worldview in an era fundamentally opposed to it, and each of those points had something like a half-dozen equally profound sub-points. All of that insight is available in the assembly recording (no cost, no obligation), but one sub-point in particular struck me harder than the others. Mr. Frank alluded to the fact that it can be really tempting to give up sometimes, because living a godly life is hard. It’s hard for everyone, and knowing that suffering is a prerequisite for righteous character can feel like a mean joke. When we know we’ll never be perfect as humans, and that this physical life is never going to get any easier, but is in fact probably only going to get worse as the Great Tribulation creeps closer…yeah, it’s tempting to just go, “You know what, all is vanity,” and stay in bed indefinitely.

“People who start off with a biblical worldview can lose it if they get their eyes off Christ. They’ve got to stay focused on Him.”

As Mr. Frank implied, it’s the temporary nature of this physical life that we need to focus on, and that’s pretty difficult, because this life is all we know. Of course, for those with God’s Spirit, this life is only a womb as we wait to be born into His eternal family. But that metaphor can be a tough sell when you think about how a baby in a womb is warm, comfortable, and completely peaceful, and this life is…not those things. So though it sounds childish, I like to think of this life as the setup process to an incredibly amazing board game. No one likes setting up a board game. You have to find the pieces, you have to shuffle the cards, you have to root around in the box for all the fake money you have to organize… It’s not fun, and it feels like it takes forever. But you need to do it, and you need to do it right, in order to actually play the game. Once you start playing, you’re glad you put in the time and effort to set everything up, because the game is great, and a lot longer than the set up.

“We have to think of the bigger question: Where are we going eternally?”

That’s what I tend to forget, and what Mr. Frank reminded me – that this physical life is the setup, not the game. Suffering might very well feel endless, but the amazing reward for it will literally be endless. Even eternal life can sound like an iffy reward when you’re used to life being something you wouldn’t actually want going on eternally, but what about eternal peace? Eternal joy? Eternally giving others peace and joy? Those are in the reward, too. God promises everlasting happiness and fulfillment at the end of this ever-so-tiny period of setup. If we can keep our focus on what we’re setting up for, nothing will be able to keep us from it.

Second Thoughts: Internal Organs Are Important Too!

by Thomas White, student at LivingEd-Charlotte

“…I think of a body of believers, when I think about the Church. …the body of believers is made up of so many different kinds of people, from all different kinds of backgrounds, all different kinds of races, all different kinds of experiences, different cultural backgrounds, and different talents.” ~ Mr. Jerry Ruddlesden

Student Assembly, March 14, 2019.

A novel by Robert Heinlein includes a quote that ends with “Specialization is for insects,” claiming that every human being should be able to do basically everything under the sun. That’s all well and good if you’re a character in a novel with as many inexplicable talents and abilities as the author can write for you, but in real life, no human being can do everything. The Apostle Paul says as much in 1 Corinthians 12, where he informs us that God’s Church is a body, and that each member of it makes up a separate and unique, yet unified and integral, part of that body. For this week’s assembly, Mr. Jerry Ruddlesden informed us of the absolutely staggering amount of work that goes into maintaining and operating that body, from the ins and outs of making sure Sabbath Services across the world have halls to be held in, to the intricacies of creating a professional telecast and finding television stations on which to show it. All of this is done by an immense amount of people…and most of these people work almost entirely “behind the curtain.”

“…the body needs a head, the body needs a foot. The body needs an eye, the body needs an ear. We preach the gospel, we feed the flock, and all those little things that happen here, all of us together, we’re a part of that.”

All these unseen—yet hugely important—things, being done by all these unseen—yet absolutely invaluable—people, caused a thought to occur to me. Thanks to Paul’s inspired words, we understand that some members of Christ’s body are eyes, some are ears, some are hands, and some are feet. Obviously, all these parts are on the outside of the body – we don’t need to get X-rayed to see that we have eyes, ears, hands, and feet. But what if you’re none of the above? After all, a body is a lot more than just what the mirror shows. What if you’re a pancreas? A thyroid gland? A spleen? These parts aren’t visible—unless something really, really bad just happened to you—but…well, try spending a day without your thyroid. Actually, please don’t. It will not go well.

“…the members in the Church who are not in charge have their part to play. And it’s not just to ‘pay and pray.’ … It’s way more than that.”

You see where I’m going with this, and Mr. Ruddlesden went there first, as he explained that, for example, though each Tomorrow’s World telecast may only be presented by one man, there are perhaps dozens of people that are never shown, but without whom that telecast would never be produced. Those people aren’t parts of the body’s face; they’re internal organs, and you don’t need to be a doctor to know that a body needs internal organs. The telecast needs more than presenters. The magazine needs more than writers. The Church needs more than people in Charlotte. Preaching the gospel and feeding the flock takes every single one of us. Whether it’s Mr. Weston himself teaching doctrine to the members or the teenager in a tiny congregation being a light and example to everyone they meet, both contribute to the feeding and preaching in their own special ways using their own particular talents. We’ll always need faces, but internal organs are important, too.

Second Thoughts: When Humility Becomes Dishonesty

By Thomas White, Student at LivingEd-Charlotte

“You don’t want to step on other people trying to get a job, but the reality is…if you’re going to be hired…you need to look better than the other guy or other gal. That’s just the reality, because there’s competition for jobs.” ~ Dr. Scott Winnail

Dr. Scott Winnail focused this week’s assembly on strategies for building a strong resume, delivering a practical and beneficial presentation that was particularly pertinent in the lives of the eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds sitting in the room. The ability to write an effective resume is critical to those of us who would like to buy food on at least a semi-consistent basis, and two of the helpful resources Dr. Winnail provided are linked at the end of this post. But what struck me the most about this assembly was when Dr. Winnail spoke of the balance we all must use in showing humility and honesty at the same time. As he brought out, we’re all representatives of God’s Church, so if we make ourselves look worse than we really are, aren’t we not only lying, but making the very body of Christ look bad?

“People just lie. That’s what society is like, and lying becomes part of the character of the end-time Israelite society. And certainly, that’s something we don’t want to be part of.”

This topic certainly applies well to resumes, as Dr. Winnail proved. I had difficulty writing my first resume, largely because I felt like I was bragging. But I wasn’t lying on my resume; like Dr. Winnail said, I was simply putting my best foot forward. Do we ever view humility as thinking or speaking poorly of ourselves? I’ve thought of it that way, but that’s a pretty shallow idea of what humility is, and it leaves more room for dishonesty than true humility ever would. How often do we find ourselves being dishonest in the name of humility? “Hey, you did a good job on those spreadsheets,” someone might say. “Nah, it wasn’t much,” I might reply. Did I just lie? If I know I worked hard on those spreadsheets and delivered a quality result, then yes, I have indeed just lied. I might be well-intentioned, trying to obey the First Commandment by not making an idol of myself, but now I’ve turned around and broken the Ninth Commandment. How is that any better?

“We’ve got to speak truth to our neighbor, and any employer is our neighbor, in the context that God uses. … You can be a false witness of yourself, if you don’t tell the truth.”

Compared to God, not one of us humans is anywhere near a big deal, so obviously, we shouldn’t parade around acting like one. We’d all hopefully agree that we should never lie about our accomplishments, but do we think about how short-changing ourselves is, essentially, doing just that? For example, if you’re a great singer, wouldn’t true humility be to recognize that God made you that way, that you owe your talent to Him, and then to sincerely thank Him for it? (Probably best not to do this on a resume, by the way. That might not go over well.) To deny that you’re a great singer, if indeed you are, isn’t that to insult the gift God’s freely granted you? When we dismiss the abilities and accomplishments God’s given us as “not much,” we’re not only lying, but failing to be thankful. With prayerful effort and God’s constant help, we can strike that balance of humility and honesty, recognizing that we’re nothing without God, and acknowledging that He’s given us something valuable.



Resume Resources Given:’s “10 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job”

The sample resume of one Sparty Spartan.

Second Thoughts: Don’t Be Chained to Your Thing

An essay on Mr. Richard Ames’ Student Assembly titled, “Expand Your Horizons”

by Thomas White, LivingEd-Charlotte

“There are times for meditation, and of course, for recreation, but…have discipline and…broaden your horizons.” ~ Mr. Richard Ames

Most of us have a Thing. You know the one. That Thing that checks all the boxes – you’re good at it, it’s good for you, and you love doing it. It’s good to have a Thing. After all, without anything to make our individual lives exciting and fulfilling in unique ways, we might as well be automatons. But God made an awful lot of Things, and He made each human being versatile enough to fit a lot more than one. In the assembly this week, Mr. Ames spoke about the importance of expanding our horizons, disciplining ourselves to continuously grow into more multifaceted Ambassadors for Christ.


“How do you expand your horizons? … One of the ways is through various hobbies and various interests.”

Another amazing aspect to us humans is that we can get excited about almost anything, given time and exposure. Now, this has a ton of downsides we have to be aware of, so as to avoid joining those who trick themselves into caring about what a random celebrity wears to a random place. But a major positive aspect to this is that if you think you could never possibly be interested in a potential new hobby, learning more about it will probably fix that. Nothing has to replace your Thing. Just don’t trap yourself into making your Thing your only Thing. Love reading? Maybe you can give mountain climbing a shot, too. Really into sports? You could try learning to draw after you’ve hit the showers. You never know what will give you a sense of unexpected fulfillment, and contrary to popular belief, you’re totally allowed to love doing something that you’re not actually all that naturally talented in. God might not intend for you to have a career in it, but that’s no reason not to do it for fun.

“Why do you [expand your horizons]? To make you a more effective ambassador for Christ, [who] can relate to people.

The more things we like to do, the more common ground we’ll find with others. And as Mr. Ames said, the more versatile we are, the more effective we can be as Christ’s Ambassadors. God made a lot of people, and almost all of them have passions they love talking about. Being able to talk to many different people, about many different things, can improve the light in which people see you, and improve the light in which they see “that Church you’re in.” It’s good to have a Thing, but as Mr. Ames showed, it’s even better to have many.