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.
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.
photograph and post by Rachel Choi
We know studying isn’t always easy or enjoyable, but we aim to help you minimize that! This post will address our top curated tips on studying for tests and exams. If you missed part one on good study habits and tips for writing papers/discussion posts, be sure to check it out here.
Studying For Tests & Exams
Teacher Knows Best
Professors emphasize what they think is most important… The most valuable things to commit to MEMORY are the things emphasized in class. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by all the things you could study, but your teachers already told you what was important. Go there.
Make Your Own Study Guide
Cross reference your study guide with other people for accuracy, but making your own study guide is pivotal to retaining information. A large part of the learning comes from doing the work yourself.
Write Notes By HAND!
This cannot be emphasized enough. Yes, computers and phones are nifty and save us a world of time and trouble, but nothing beats writing out study guides and notes in your own hand. Trust all those who have gone before you: you will remember better this way.
Enjoy Study Time
Trick your brain into enjoying study time by incorporating things you like. Try eating your favorite snack, going to a nice coffee shop, or listening to your favorite music. Then give yourself a small break every hour.
Freebie: everyone has their own taste in music, but research shows that classical/instrumental music provide the optimum level of concentration and energy for your brain.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask professors questions in order to clarify assignments. They want you to succeed! There’s nothing wrong with making sure that you are studying the right information.
Work The System
If you have an open-book, at-home test, invest in a digital copy of the book. Use the search tool to look up keywords and terms. This really comes in handy, even when writing papers!
At least 20 minutes of cardio/day during finals releases endorphins and makes you less cranky and more productive. This is also great if you’re falling asleep.. Wake yourself up with a quick round of jumping jacks!
Use Mnemonic Devices
Acrostics and acronyms are a great way to remember lists of information. For example: TULIP, Every Good Boy Does Fine, Good Boys Do Fine Always, etc.
We hope these tips have been helpful!
Thanks for reading this list of study tips. We hope they help make your study time effective as well as fun. But make sure you remember that these tips aren’t the secret potion to good productivity; how much you get out of studying is largely based on how much you put in. Don’t overcomplicate it. As Amelia Earheart says, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
photograph and post by Rachel Choi
Studying — like anything else — might not always seem fun. Studying takes grit and perseverance, and it has to be done whether we feel like it or not. After interviewing students, professors, church leaders/pastors, and educational researchers, here are some of the top study tips that will make your studying both more effective and fun!
PLAN Time To Study
If you don’t make studying a priority and actually plan time to do it, it won’t happen! Dr. Elmore addresses this in his principle “Big Rocks First”; there are always a million other things you could be doing, so be sure to prioritize what’s most important and then build your schedule accordingly.
Focus Where It Matters
If you can get an A in one class even if you get a C on the final, then focus on another class.
This might make you cringe, but remember that doing your best often involves prioritizing where you invest your time. Look at your assignments objectively to see what needs the most attention and prioritize accordingly.
Eat, Sleep & Pray
- Eat an apple or banana. They provide the healthy sugar your brain needs to function at its best.
- Sleep on it. Besides the obvious benefits of a good night’s sleep, research shows that when you sleep, you “turn off” your conscious brain and allow your subconscious to connect information in new ways.
- Pray and relax your soul. Seriously, ask God to help you study productively, remember important information, and test well!
Work First, Play Later
When Thanksgiving or Spring Break comes around, it’s easier to push through one or two extra days of homework first and then take the rest of the week off. It’s much harder the other way around.
Writing Papers & Posts
Teaching someone is proven to be linked to how well an individual retains information. Especially if you’re an external processor, talking with someone about your thesis statement will help you process what you want to say, and then writing it down will be that much easier. Afterwards, be sure to change the vocabulary/style to be academically appropriate.
Outline Your Paper
When reading and researching, keep your paper and discussion post in mind and type up any quotes/notes you might want to use. Go ahead and include the author and page number; this way, when you go to write your paper, a lot of it is already written!
Get A Second Set Of Eyes
When writing your final paper, get a second set of eyes. No matter how good you are, you may have missed a comma splice, misspelling, horrible sentence, or even the paragraph that doesn’t have a link to your thesis statement. Get someone to help you.
P.S. When editing for grammar and spelling, read your paper in reverse. Reading backwards messes up the flow of your paper and helps you catch more errors — it’s what the pros do.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Tips on studying for tests and exams!
Today we are in need of leaders who can think critically and effectively solve problems. This may seem elementary, but in reality it’s hard to find. According to Garrette, Sibony, and Phelps at Forbes, “Organizations need effective problem solvers, but they’re telling us our business schools and universities are failing to meet this need. Such training is critical because, for most of us, problem solving doesn’t come naturally.” We, at GCD, have decided we want to actively attack this subject-matter by training our students, today’s leaders, to think critically and actively solve problems!
How do we do this? One, by integrating these topics within our current classes; two, by having instructors that are skilled in these areas; three, and newly added, have a class that specifically addresses this need. We are offering a NEW class in fall of 2018>> Critical Thinking and Problem Solving for Leadership. This course emphasizes the development of skills to include creative thinking, problem solving, decision making, strategy formation, and effective analysis for effective leadership in both the marketplace and social sectors. Students will also learn to evaluate their own ideas and to develop skill in communicating their points of view effectively.
This course will be taught by Marcia Johnson and will be offered both live, on-campus at our main campus, and online. Mrs. Johnson has over twenty years of experience in the development and implementation of employee training programs, designed to help both the individual employee and the overall organization be successful at meeting the many demands on their time and energy, through becoming better, more efficient leaders, supervisors, and individual contributors.
It is time for us as leaders to be effective problem solvers, and this may mean to change our thinking. Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Come and join other emerging leaders as we discover new viewpoints and learn how to develop these skills to maximize our influence with others!
To register for Critical Thinking and Problem Solving for Leadership click HERE.
Or if you are not a student at GCD but would like to take this course, click HERE to start an application.
Author: Stefanie Ertel