by Sam Fletcher
My struggle throughout each and every semester has always been the mundane and the consistency of sixteen weeks out of the year. It can be slow and frustrating, and sometimes I would just like to be done. If every student who is in school is being honest, then they would agree that school is not the highlight of their day or week or month. It is not for me. It can really be taxing! School is about character and building on the knowledge that you have as a student. Every great leader is a good student. The character aspect of school is about doing what you do not want to do.
If I’m being honest, school has never been a particularly favorite hobby but it has taught me so much about discipline, diligence, and excellence. As a millennial, I tend to focus on my feelings. I do not want to do what makes me feel bad. School is that thing! School has provided me an opportunity to grow in discipline. The hardest thing about school is that it never goes away when you are in it! When one week is done, here comes another the next. School has provided an opportunity for me to grow in diligence, in that, when I get to it early, the easier it is!
School can be frustrating, but I guess, it is on purpose!
Sam is a 3rd-year Bachelor of Arts in Christian Leadership student, and a graduate of theExperience internship. He currently serves as the Student Ministries Assistant for Manna Church, Fayetteville/Fort Bragg.
Jessica Fletcher is a GCD alumna, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Divinity degree in the Fall of 2017.
Scene: Africa. Subjects: wild dogs and wildebeests. The only way the wild dogs have the advantage is if the wildebeest run. However, if the wildebeests have the courage to stop running and stand their ground, the wild dogs are powerless. If you desire a more detailed and graphic demonstration of this truth, go watch The Hunt on Netflix.
Everyone is made on purpose and for a purpose, and that purpose ALWAYS involves others.
Here’s the big question: are you surrounded by people who are going to have the courage to stop in the face of danger and stand with you? Are you running alone? A very important lesson can be learned from the wildebeests. When we stop running and stand together, the enemy is powerless. We are not meant to do life alone. We need to surround ourselves with people who have the faith to stand and the courage to stop running. When we stand together, we halt the enemy.
Hebrews 4:11 (ESV) – “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”
Two words spring off the page: “us” and “no one.” Earlier in Hebrews 4, the author of Hebrews references the moment the nation of Israel fell prey to the fears of the faithless reporters.
Hebrews 4:2 (ESV) – “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.”
With whom are you united?
Now, let’s take a moment to look at the word REST.
In this passage, “rest” is the Greek word katapausis, used in three different ways. (1) Rest as in the way we would use the peace of God, (2) rest as in the Promised Land, and (3) rest as in how God rested on the seventh day after his work was completed.
Here’s the truth: being out of rest is being out of faith.
Hebrews 4:1 (ESV) – “…while the promise of entering his rest still stands…” He has promised, we need to enter. God has promised peace. God has a promised land for you. God has work for you to complete. Let us enter in; let us enter together.
Here are three action steps:
- Surround yourself with faith-filled people. Reach for the fearful ones, don’t surround yourself with them.
- Practice listening today (Heb. 4:7, ESV)
- Choose to remove the words ALWAYS and NEVER in reference to yourself and those around you. Those are eternal words, only God is eternal.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16, ESV)
Church, let us be found standing together, striving together to enter into His rest.
21st Century Apologetics: Diplomacy through Conversations
Many authors have commented on the erosion of belief in absolute truth among Western societies. The rise of relativistic thinking in post-modern America seems to discard long-accepted ideas like a heliocentric solar system in favor of a flat-earth theory. Relativism is commonly expressed as “My truth is my truth; your truth is your truth,” or “You do you.” Evangelical authors often pose a concern about the effect this trend will have on sharing the gospel. How can we share the truth of scripture when truth is viewed as customizable?
Mature followers of Christ are right to be concerned about this trend. The common response centers on training in apologetics, or defending the faith. That word often brings to mind some form of debate (which most believers do not feel qualified to begin) or verbal combat (which most believers do not enjoy). Is there another way to share the good news of enduring hope, joy and peace with our friends, co-workers, families and neighbors? Yes, believers have the best message to share to a confused, hurting world and can reach others through conversations that pose questions in a way that deepens relationships.
Know What You Believe
Christ-followers should know what they believe and be prepared to share this in meaningful ways. Speaking to the first topic, Francis J. Beckwith captured the essence of a Christian worldview in three points:
- There exists an eternally self-existing moral agent named God, who created the universe ex nihilo.
- God created human beings in his image.
- God reveals himself in special revelation, the Bible, as well as general revelation.1
Christian apologists rightly quote 1 Peter 3:15 – “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”2 There is a Kingdom mandate for God’s people to proclaim the gospel, and to be prepared to do so. Study helps in preparation, but notice the phrasing of this passage. Peter is assuming that Christ-followers will live in such a way that others will ask about the hope they hold in their hearts.
Know How to Share What You Believe
Peter immediately follows that well-quoted phrase with a caution: “But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” Training in what to say should be accompanied by training in how to say it. Speaking to tactics, Gregory P. Koukl challenged Jesus-followers to “artfully manage the details of dialogue.”
Here are a few questions that should get your friend to examine their thinking:
- Do you mind if I ask you a question?
Believers can avoid coming off as pushy or preachy by “inviting others to participate in dialogue.” The answer will signal whether our friend is willing to engage in conversation or if the believer should prayerfully look for another opportunity for dialogue.
- What do you mean by that?
Likewise, open-ended questions place an expectation on the other person to define what they mean when delivered with a genuine desire to understand them.
- How did you come to that conclusion?
This question assumes the best for the other person: that they have thought through what they believe and can relate their position with clarity. It may also reveal where our friend has built their beliefs on feelings instead of evidence or careful thought.
- Have you ever considered … ?
Here is where a believer can gently challenge another’s position. By presenting evidence for an alternative conclusion, believers can plant seeds in conversation that our friends desperately need to hear.3
This strategy is more like skilled diplomacy than heated debate or armed combat. Knowing what we believe is only half the preparation; knowing how to share the truth in a conversational way makes us effective ambassadors for the Kingdom.
If you would like training in either area, please consider these special courses offered this summer:
Contemporary Issues in Apologetics (graduate course) – meets online and on-campus from May 6 – August 18, 2019.
Apologetic Issues for Cross-Cultural Engagement (undergraduate course, open to current high school students) – meets online from June 24 – August 18, 2019.
Follow one of these steps if you are interested in registering and you are not yet a GCD student:
High School students (not yet graduated): fill out this application
High School graduates: fill out this application
Graduate-level students (completed a bachelor degree): fill out this application
For more information, please contact our Admissions Team.
- Francis J. Beckwith, To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, eds. Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 14-15.
- New International Version.
- Quoted or adapted from Gregory P. Koukl, “Tactics: Applying Apologetics to Everyday Life,” in To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, eds. Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 48-54.
Q&A with a Bachelor of Arts in Divinity student
Vonnie faithfully attended church most of her life, but was unsure about going back to college after a long break from school. GCD’s helpful staff and student body encouraged her to take the next step.
One day as I was driving on Cliffdale Road, I saw GCD and call to inquire about the curriculum being offered. After speaking with one of the academic advisors, I decide to attend an accredited Bible college. I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Divinity program.
What do you like best about your experience with GCD so far?
The three things I like best about my experience with GCD are the helpful/friendly staff, the help of tutors, and at my age how to navigate online.
Where/when do you do your best studying?
I do my best studying in the school’s learning lab and at home in my quiet place, my Lazy Boy. I do my best studying anytime when I’m alone.
What tips could you offer a new student at GCD?
Come with an open mind to learn and grow, and to be willing to do the homework assignments in a timely manner.
How has your learning at GCD helped you grow personally?
Learning at GCD has helped me to grow in the areas of self-discipline. That is, being consistent with early morning devotions and managing finances more effectively. Also, It helped me to learn how to search out the truth of God’s word, and to grow in the area of marriage and family.
How has your experience at GCD benefited your ministry to others?
I am more able to minister to others with confidence and assurance in a better understanding of what the Bible truly means.
My husband, Clayton, is a retired service member and we’ve lived in Fayetteville for more than 20 years. We’ve been members of Manna for about 12 years.
What made you decide to take classes at GCD?
Off and on, I’d hear about the college, but at that time, the college was not accredited. As I raised our four sons, I had taken courses – a class here and there. Once GCD became accredited, I felt the leading of the Lord that this was where He wanted me to be. I enrolled in the Bachelor of Divinity program in the fall of 2012. Five years later, I joyously walked across the stage at Manna EP – tears running down my face! I began working toward my Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree the following semester and I am loving it!
Can you give some examples of ways your experience with GCD has prepared you to fulfill your calling?
My classes at GCD, especially those in Christian Leadership, have provided me with skills to more effectively lead at Manna Church’s EP Site. I’ve been in leadership for more than ten years on the SERVE team there and I consider it an honor to minister alongside my extended family at Manna EP and to be involved in training emerging leaders.
Recently my master’s curriculum has afforded me the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant in the classroom. Once I have completed this degree, the dream would be to fulfill the calling on my life to instruct at the undergrad level.
What tips could you offer a new student at GCD?
A life statement of mine is: “All that I Do is Ministry.” All that we do throughout our lives should be ministry as unto the Lord. With this in mind, we should definitely guard our lives, guard our mouths – I especially have to remind myself of this – and present our whole being as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, daily.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience with GCD?
I consider it a great honor to be a student here at Grace College of Divinity. I love being in the classroom. As I interact with ‘young minds,’ it keeps my ‘older mind’ sharp – at least I would like to think so!
What would you say to a person who is thinking about attending GCD?
Do it! It doesn’t matter how old you are. You’re never too young; you’re never too old! I’m so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be a student throughout my lifetime. He encourages me to always remain a lifelong learner, to constantly enrich my life on the foundation of His Word, and to continue to serve His body with all the skills that He has entrusted to me.
Meet our student spotlight of the week through his answers to a few questions about his life and what he is doing right now.
What is your current occupation?
“I am the Teaching Pastor and Executive Place Site Pastor at Manna Church.”
How did GCD help you get there?
“GCD has helped me by providing sound Biblical training to assist in my vocation.”
What was your favorite thing about GCD?
“My favorite thing about GCD is that we are not just about people learning information. Rather, we attempt to provide sound Biblical teaching that helps people understand more about God, while at the same time helping them use that knowledge in practical ministry experience.”
Experience at GCD.
“I have taken classes as both an undergraduate and in the master’s program, and I have found both of those experiences to be incredibly insightful. I feel better prepared as a pastor through my involvement at GCD.”
There you have it, Pastor Jonathan Fletcher everybody. If you want to learn more about our students here at GCD and want to see more about our students’ lives let us know in the comments below.
Grace College of Divinity is a unique Bible College that puts emphasis on preparing emerging leaders to change the world. GCD accomplishes this through dedicated staff and professors who work to change students lives.
I interviewed several students so that future students can have an understanding of GCD from a personal perspective that is relevant to them. The students’ answers are honest to each individual and help gain insight to the heart of GCD.
What are the classes like?
“The classes are engaging and the professors encourage questions. It is always cool to learn about God and the classes help with the practicality of it.” – Patrice Parkinson, Senior
“The classes are great because they help prepare you for ministry in life. Destiny and Calling really helped me to think about the future. It also helped me to understand ministry doesn’t always mean working for a church.” – Zach Barefoot, Freshman
What are the professors like?
“The professors are very open and personal. They encourage questions and seem down to earth.” – Jeff Deitz, Freshman
“The professors are interested in our lives and really want to help us learn.” – Daniel Colby, Senior
What is your favorite part of GCD?
“My favorite part is how close knit and family-like the students and classes are.” – Alexander Wilson, Sophomore
“I like that it isn’t a traditional setting and that the people care about other’s views and opinions.” -Jeff Deitz, Freshman
What is the environment like at GCD?
“The environment is very positive and welcoming. The staff and faculty want people to succeed.” -Alainya Pierce, Sophomore
“It is very warm and friendly, it’s like another home for me.” -Zach Barefoot, Freshman
How has GCD helped you?
“GCD has helped me to succeed in college and gain a better understanding of my weaknesses and strengths.” -Alexander J. Gael, Freshman
“I have been better equipped for ministry and life. I have learned communication skills and how to teach myself and others.” -Daniel Colby, Senior
Grace College of Divinity has a passion for emerging leaders. GCD develops students to go out and become world changers. The open and inviting atmosphere of GCD is reflected in all that it does. Grace College of Divinity is a striving force in Biblical Education and continues to support its students and empowers them to succeed.