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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.

Student Spotlight: I was in prison and you came to me

Study Tips, Pt 2

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!

Exercise!

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.”

Study Tips, Pt 1

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!

Study Habits

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

Teach Someone

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!  

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.  

Student Spotlight: Jonathan Fletcher

Bible College Student:Manna Church teaching pastor

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.

Belle Szalkowski Devotional

 

Belle Szalkowski Devotional

Student Devotional

     Have you ever felt completely and utterly out of your depth? Like you are grasping for air and you can’t seem to get your head above water? Finally you wade into shore and you can breathe free and clear again. You look back at the water and realize that no matter how hard it was, you survived. You feel invigorated, you made it! You’ve accomplished something huge by just surviving and smiling! This has been my relationship with God through my life. One of my favorite verses that I keep coming back to is:

Psalm 13:6 I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me.”

     I have spent many years of my life simply trying to keep my head above water. College is overwhelming. I’ve had multiple exhausting injuries, and serving in ministry can be draining. It is through God’s grace that I’ve made it as far as I am in life. The reason I keep going back to this verse is because no matter what point of my life I am in it applies. If I am drowning in schoolwork I can still praise God for blessing me with an education. If I am overwhelmed with my ministry work I can praise God for giving me a chance to share His glory.

     I say all this because I have learned that praising God even in the midst of struggle is the best lesson I’ve learned. Even when I was homeless I thought of this verse and that God, no matter my circumstances has been good to me and is worthy of my praise.

     I challenge you to meditate over this. If you truly believe God is good, then doesn’t He deserve our praise even when things aren’t going our way? Even if you feel that you are drowning, God has been good to you and is worthy to be praised.

 

 

Echo Montoya Devotional

 

Echo Montoya Devotional


grace-college-of-divinity-online-bible-college

     Psalm 23

Today I will be sharing about Psalm 23, some people call it a classic that all church goers must know. All I know is, that once I truly understood this verse it changed my life! I just wanted to share with you what I have learned through studying this chapter almost my whole life as a Christian.

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
 for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
     they comfort me.You prepare a table before me
 in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with     oil; my cup overflows.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall        dwell in the house of the Lord
 forever.”
The starting verse of Psalm 23 is such a beautiful reminder that as Christians, we will always have provision through Christ. “The Lord is my  Shepherd, I shall not want.”
After a reminder about the Lord’s provision; the verse going into talking about how God leads us for our good. “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Not only does He calm us but He leads us there. The third verse says, “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names sake.” A reminder to us that He is the only one who can truly bring back to life our soul. It is nothing in us, but God himself and who He is.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The verse starts out my saying God protects us from evil. When the writing says ‘Valley of the shadow of death.’ It means that through the lowest of lows God is walking right there with you. Many people get scared or worried when they hear ‘rod and staff’ but the Shepard has both for a purpose. The rod is not to beat the sheep, but to protect when wolves or bears came near. The staff is for guidance, another example of God leading our steps. Imagine the last part of the verse saying: ‘your protection and guidance, they comfort me.’ What a beautiful image God is giving to us! “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” The beginning part speaks on how God blesses us abundantly. How even when my enemies are near He wants me, and He wants me front and center. He anoints us with oil as a sign of promotion in His eyes. What a powerful thing to even be seen if even a little bit worthy to God! For him though, to anoint us with oil, to the point where our cups overflow! What a powerful picture!
 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” If you choose to trust Him, these promises prevail. Know that God wants to bless us! Sometimes it is as easy as recognizing that He wants to do this for us, He never had to.