Worship in Truth and Spirit: Alumni Devotional – Andrew Sutton

My name is Andrew Sutton, I am on staff at Manna Church as the Events Director for Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg. In December of 2018 I graduated from GCD with a BA in Christian Leadership.

This opportunity to share is such I gift. I hope it blesses you and draws you closer to the Father. The topic I am writing on is worship and how God has been teaching me to worship Him in all I do and through all I do. 

The things which have led me to this place of worship is multifaceted. It is a combination of many things: personal devotions, fellowship, mentorship, personal study, interpersonal relationships, spirit development, pain, joy, sadness, success, failures, brokenness and wholeness, experiencing grace from others, betrayal and forgiveness. God working in and through all aspects of life to lead me into greater depths of knowing Him and worshiping Him.

Below I have listed some things I have done that have helped me develop more of a heart of worship for God. Here are four points that came to mind: 

1. Know God

Regarding knowing God more and seeing Him more clearly there are things we can action to do that. That is studying the Scriptures and looking to see who God, studying His character. Mediate on these Scriptures and seek the Holy Spirit to bring deeper revelation to us that we may know God more fully. 2 Peter 3:18, Proverbs 8:17

2. Be Still

Practicing stillness has helped me know God’s voice more clearly. It has helped to develop my spirit. Start with 5 minutes of not speaking, reading or allowing your thoughts, feelings, or desire to lead you down a wayward path in your mind. If I am having a hard time getting my soul to be still I will shift my focus to Jesus and the Cross. Psalm 62:5, Psalm 37:7

3. A lifestyle of repentance and confession

Living a lifestyle of repentance, and giving thanks to God as He reveals sin to us, so that we no longer walk in that which so easily entangles us,  preventing us from running the race He has for us. Acknowledge known sin, seek forgiveness and turn away from it. Isaiah 30:15, Revelation 2:5, Matthew 5:24-24

4. Practicing gratitude

Being intentional about looking at and for the good things God has given and is giving in my life. I take time to think about the things I have been given a positive light. Psalm 136

Begin the process of having your eyes open to see how God is moving in all things and thank Him for it. Knowing God, stillness, repentance, and gratitude can begin to change our hearts as we take them to heart and can be a catalyst for leading us into worship. Worship puts God in His rightful place in our lives which then allows us to operate more fully in the place He has given us. It changes us and then changes the world we live in.

May God bless you all as you seek to worship in truth and spirit.

Sincerely,
Andrew Sutton

Equipped to Lead: Alumni Spotlight- Mackenzie Gear

Equipped to Lead: Alumni Spotlight – Mackenzie Gear

by Frank Brazell

Recently, we sat down with alumna Mackenzie Gear (Christian Leadership, ’18) to discuss her experiences as a student, and how it has prepared her to be the Director of Student Ministries for one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the United States.

Mackenzie Gear (’18) and husband Brady

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Mackenzie first felt God calling her to full time vocational ministry as a teenager, specifically the call to work with students. Mackenzie first found out about Grace College of Divinity from her fiancé, now husband, Brady. The military brought Brady to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he began attending a local church affiliated with GCD; he told Mackenzie about Grace College of Divinity soon afterward. When they were married and settled in their new city, Mackenzie began taking classes at GCD, earning her Associate of Arts in Christian Leadership in 2018.

“I really enjoyed the fact that I could get my whole degree online… You can get your whole degree either all in class or all online.”

Mackenzie started by taking on-campus classes but had to switch to all-online courses when she was hired for a staff position at her local church. Getting hired was a direct result of being a student at GCD. A faculty member, who also happened to be an Associate Pastor at Mackenzie’s local church, noticed her work ethic and commitment to God’s call on her life, and connected her to an administrative position where she could still fulfill God’s calling for her: working with middle and high-school students.

Since then, Mackenzie has completed her Associate’s degree, worked with students while serving in an administrative capacity, and has recently been promoted to Director of Student Ministries. We asked her what that role entailed, and how her time as a student at GCD prepared her to step into that role.

“Now I get the opportunity to work with leaders at other sites [church campuses] in helping them and guiding them into leading them and growing their students at their sites, get to work with RUSH [Campus Ministries] in the local schools, and all things students at my local church.”

While still working weekly with students at her local church campus, Mackenzie now has the opportunity to mentor six adult leaders at that campus and five other site directors at various locations across the Fayetteville, North Carolina region. She works in conjunction with local pastoral staff to create a space for students that is a part of the local church.

“One of the biggest things I learned in class was through the Servant Leadership class with [Professor] Stefanie Ertel. In order to lead like Jesus you need to serve like Jesus. That’s something that I’ve been able to apply from my time at GCD to the role I’m in now.”

While a student, Mackenzie enjoyed not having to learn things on her own, but being surrounded by a group of like-minded people who want to grow and develop in their relationship with God.

“To be a pastor doesn’t mean that you need the title Pastor. You can do pastoral work in your everyday life, and I think that all of us are called to be somewhat pastoral in our interactions with people.”

Looking forward, Mackenzie is confident that God’s call on her life when she was 15 has brought her to where she is today. Now, she has the opportunity not only to lead students but to lead leaders, multiplying herself not for her own sake, but to advance the Kingdom of God faster and more effectively. While she may not know what the future holds, she never could have imagined where God would bring her and how He would bring her here.

We also asked Mackenzie what advice she would give to people who think God might be calling them to be a student at GCD. The calling that started when she was a teenager wasn’t put in place overnight, and her journey still isn’t finished; but the journey has been incredible, and God has been faithful through the whole process.

“It’s a big decision committing to school. If you’re on the edge of it, and feel like God is pushing you, it doesn’t hurt to try. Your efforts aren’t going to go to waste, and you’re going to learn something. The Lord can open up a lot of things, but we have to be willing to take the step forward. As long as you’re pursuing Him and seeking Him, He’s not going to lead you down a path that isn’t the right one for you.”

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Student Reflection: Dog Days of the School Year

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.

Student Devotional: Pursuing Your Calling

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.

Faculty Spotlight: Dick Gaffney

Long-time GCD faculty member and pastor Richard Lee “Dick” Gaffney has a heart for international missions, but that’s only part of his story.  Come meet him at GCD’s 9th Annual Golf Tournament this Friday (March 22).

Dick Gaffney’s first taste of a culture not his own came at the age of 12. His father served in the U.S. Army, with one assignment in Japan. Though Dick has served in many roles himself through his nearly 83 years, themes of service, education, and missions work have been continuously present.

Military Service

Following his father’s steps, he joined the Army in 1958. Dick married Judy Royce a year later. Susan, Rick, and Debbie were added to the family soon thereafter. The family moved with tours of duty stateside as well as two tours in Germany, allowing trips to neighboring countries. He also served two assignments in Vietnam. Diversity in culture was preparing him for a calling in global missions.

Education

His military service ended in 1979, when he retired at the rank of Major. Along the way, Dick studied at Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, and completed his bachelor degree with Campbell University in 1980.

He taught in high schools for many years, and Manna Church became the family’s place of worship. Dick served in many capacities, including a role as an elder of the church. Feeling a desire to be better equipped, Dick completed a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies with Regent University.

Global Missions

Unexpectedly, the Lord called Dick and Judy to teach English to students in northwest China for a year. Formal roles in missions work then followed. For a time, Dick served with the organization that prepared and placed them as teachers in China. In 1994, Michael Fletcher asked Dick to return to Fayetteville to become Missions Coordinator for an association of like-minded churches in North Carolina and Virginia. His efforts resulted in coordinating churches to adopt people groups in the “10/40 Window,” as well as in assisting Romanian churches toward growth in a post-cold war environment. These experiences uniquely prepared Dick to serve as the Missions Pastor for Manna Church until 2007.

Serving in Education for World Missions

Soon thereafter, Dr. Steve Crowther asked Dick to serve as Vice President of Administration for Grace College of Divinity. For the next five years he was busy helping the college achieve accreditation, establish a Veteran Services Office, and attain eligibility for student loans. Stepping away from an administrative role in 2012, Dick continues to teach GCD courses in World Religions and Missions.

According to Judy, Dick has several items proudly displayed in his home office: framed degrees from Campbell University and Regent University as well as a plaque from GCD acknowledging him as 2013 Faculty Member of the Year. Dick’s academic training and life experiences formed a heart for world missions as well as insight into what it means to share one’s faith in a culture not one’s own.

Alumni Highlight: Adriane Harrington

What brought you to Fayetteville?  

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.  

Adam Terry Devotional

   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.

Bible College Student Spotlight: Adam Yow

Meet our student spotlight of the week, Adam Yow.