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.
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.
Pastor Joshua Clarke shares his thoughts on pursuing your calling. Josh is a Master of Divinity online student with GCD, and his family has been instrumental in planting Manna Church, Colorado Springs.
One of the most exciting discoveries you make after deciding to follow Jesus is that you are uniquely called by God for a specific purpose to make an eternal difference. This is such a profound discovery that you immediately revert back to your childhood state and start to dream again about who you could be and what God has called you to do.
When it comes to pursuing that calling, I think the most significant thing to do is to never stop dreaming. To dream big is to have faith in who God is and what He is capable of. God desires us to be full of faith because otherwise we put our infinitely powerful, knowing, and loving God in a box. When we lack faith, we say “no” FOR God before he even gets the chance to bless us and use us. However, to constantly be living out your calling, there is a balance that you must find in dreaming big. I have always been a big dreamer, but sometimes I get so caught up in those dreams that I forget to make the most of where God has me now. This is the tension that we must live in; dreaming big for the future and being obedient to God right now. This obedience is ultimately what leads to the fulfillment of a dream. To pursue your calling is to be obedient to God in this moment. To pursue your calling is to pursue God. If you continue to pursue God, you will never be walking outside of your calling.
A year and a half ago I came to a cross roads. I knew that I was called to multiply God’s Kingdom through the local church, and I could either do that by staying where I was in Fayetteville and investing in that community or I could be a part of starting Manna Church in Colorado Springs. The question was not, “which makes the most sense” or “which one do I like most.” The question was simply “how can I be obedient to God right now?” The answer to the right question ended up being the illogical answer: to move my family across the country to be a part of starting a church. God’s dreams for me ended up being greater than anything I could think up. Since we have been out here, I have been able to be a part of an amazing church plant with unprecedented growth and Kingdom impact, and my family has experienced more blessings than I would have ever thought possible in such a short time. Pursing your calling is simply being obedient to God. There is so much joy in being exactly where God desires you to be.
Adam Terry is a first year student at Grace College of Divinity. He is currently an Experience Intern at Manna Church. He He enjoys ballroom dancing and philosophical debates. He is currently spending his time at GCD seeking God and redeveloping a foundation of faith.
Do you go the extra mile? I know this is usually the example that Christ used for us when other people make demands of us. That is not today’s focus though. Serving and loving people is important, but the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart.
Love has no limits. What does our love for God actually look like though? Most of us as Christians have a devotional life where we spend time with God. Love is shown through sacrifice. How much do we really sacrifice for God out of love? Honestly, when I think of Christians sacrificing for God it is because we have to. We can set aside a little time for God in the morning or evening, but have I limited my love for God?
David was a man who loved God with a reckless abandon. When I look at David’s life I see him spending time with God, but I do not see him setting limits on his relationship with God. David goes above and beyond to please God. David does not just go the extra mile, David is determined to run to God until he reaches him. We should chase God without holding back!
I believe that many of us think about our relationship with God in a box. What do I have to do today to not lose my blessings and fall away? We should wake up and think, how can I please my heavenly Father today? When I start to think that way, new ideas of serving, loving, and worshipping fill my mind. My motivation to have devotions is my love for the Father. Devotions are a means to an end they are not the end. If I am going to worship God to the best of my ability I cannot put restraints on how much time and energy I am going to spend on Him. Loving God is not stopping at the extra mile. Loving God is the endless journey with Him into eternity.
Church Growth Course
Grace College of Divinity offers a unique course centered around the principles of church growth. It is from a sociological, psychological, and theological point of view. The course is designed to cover elements behind church growth.
In the class they look at 2-3 models of churches at a systemic level to discover what they have in common. The class looks at successful churches and links the key differences to see how to best impact change in a community.
The class looks to the early church in the Bible and asks the questions “What makes a movement?” “What would happen to the community if the church disappeared?” The class also recognizes that it is Jesus who grows the church but reaches beyond to see how the church can impact a community.
Some of the required reading material include Viral Churches by Ed Stezer and Warren Bird and Exponential by Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson. The assignments are made relatable to everyone. The class is not designed to only appeal to those who are called to plant a church. The class is for anyone who has a heart for understanding their part in the local church or how the church can obtain optimal healthy growth.
The early church made a movement that spread the word of God all around the world. That movement has not finished. This class helps individuals find their place in the movement. God fills the seats but our role extends beyond just that.
GCD Partners with Manna Church
Grace College of Divinity is a very unique college in North Carolina in that it partners closely with a church. Manna Church is a 9,300 member mega church located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Many of the professors who teach at GCD also are on the pastoral staff at Manna. Dr. Crowther, the president of GCD, is an elder with Manna Church. Mrs. Bermudez , the financial aid administrator, attends the Hispanic service with her family. Her father is the pastor at the Hispanic service at Manna.
Grace College of Divinity has become the pipeline for leaders at Manna Church. Michael Fletcher, senior pastor at Manna Church, was in the first graduating class of Manna Christian College (now Grace College of Divinity) before going on staff at Manna. Many other men and women involved in Manna have come through GCD to gain knowledge of ministry, missions, worship and leadership. Just recently we had a united event with Manna Church where many leading community members such as the mayor of Fayetteville and the mayor of hope mills came out. Some school principals and the superintendent came and participated in a friendly game of Family Feud. Many influential leaders came to speak to the students at this event and Dr. Crowther was among them.
Grace College of Divinity and Manna Church also partner in a very unique way with the Experience Internship. The Experience Internship is a way for students to grow in faith, character, and leadership. GCD values these characteristics and allows students to earn college credit while completing an internship. One year in the Experience Internship earns a certificate in Christian Leadership. Those who complete a second year earn an Associates in Christian Leadership. Interns attend classes at GCD and gain ministry experience so they can further develop in their faith and leadership. Interns serve at Manna on Sunday mornings through Children’s Ministry, Greeting, or Host Team. They also have different tracks they are involved in such as Worship, Leadership, Outreach, Children’s Ministry, and GCD Track. In each of the tracks the interns gain skills and knowledge in that particular area.
GCD and Manna Church are very connected, they partner together to build faith and increase character for everyone involved. They share many professors and pastors and quite literally share a campus. Manna Church and GCD are similar in many aspects, chiefly in their desire to equip and empower leaders. They work together to see the Kingdom of God advanced in the Cape Fear region and beyond.
Bible College partners with Manna Church’s student ministry
Grace College of Divinity collaborates with Manna Church for the Experience internship program. The Experience program uses the academics of Grace College of Divinity with the practical training through an internship with Manna Church.
The Experience Program through Grace College of Divinity offers a Certificate of Christian Leadership and an Associate of Christian Leadership. The Experience program takes place on GCD’s Fayetteville, NC campus and Manna Church’s Cliffdale site. The program is broken into specific tracks to be able to better prepare students for their area of interest to better reflect their calling.
In addition to weekly practical ministry through student ministry the Experience program also takes a cross cultural missions trip. Past mission trips have been to Guatemala and Honduras.
Pictures from 2012 Missions trip to Guatemala