Who Would You Die for, There is No Greater Love?

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“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” John 15:13

Who would you die for?

Would that decision be spontaneous, like your sister is drowning in a lake and you try to rescue her even though you can’t swim?  Or have you already made the choice, such as if your  family is ever in danger, you’ll gladly step in front of a bullet if that’s would keep them safe.  Or a friend needs a kidney transplant, you volunteer despite the risk to your own health. Or a combat soldier who will follow orders even though he will be open to machine gun fire?

Jesus made the choice to die for us on the cross.  Because gave his life so our sins are washed away and He serves as an intercessor for us in Heaven.  What a friend is He?

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He made the choice to follow His Father’s decision that He be ransomed for our sin.  “Father, if you are will, take this cup from me: yet not my will, but yours be done,” Luke 22:42.

Giving up your life is never easy, but “if you haven’t found something you are willing to die for, you aren’t fit to live,”  says the Rev.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave his life for  what he believed.

What would you die for?




Gratitude is a Funny Thing


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“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:12-13

Gratitude is a funny thing.  You never know when it will strike you.  Or when you will find yourself in need of it.  I now, for example, feel gratitude every time someone holds the door open for me, lets me cut in near the beginning of a long food line or carries something to heavy or awkward for me.
It wasn’t always that way.  Before 2013, I had a strong, able body.  I didn’t need help with such things.  But, as they say, that all changed in the twinkling of an eye.  A health condition left me without the use of my right arm, difficulty walking and slurred speech.  Overnight, I went from an assistance giver to someone who needs assistance.
I don’t ask for assistance.  I still can do tasks for myself, but it takes longer or special equipment.
I’ve found that about 90 percent of people help without being asked.  The remaining folks seem too absorbed in their own lives.  They might rush through a door without giving you a glance,  make sure not to make eye contact, or sprint to the last shopping cart ahead of you.
Especially helpful, are those who ask if you want help before offering it.  Such as, “May I help you with the door?”  It’s an important courtesy.  I remember being proud of how I was walking–though slowly–and wanting the exercise of walking through one of the Wal-Mart.  A lady about 40, without asking, brought me an electric cart to ride in.  I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I rode in it.
But I’ve learned to be content in my condition.  Barring a miracle–and I’m not ruling that out–these deficits are permanent.  Still, I have all that I need to live as normal a life as possible with the gratitude of others, and through Him that strengthens me.

Edward Wills is a Christian writer and blogger.  He lives in Holly Ridge, NC.

Christian Leaders Institute: FREE High-Quality, Online Ministry Training

About a year ago, I stumbled across Christian Leaders Institute (CLI, Christianleadersinstitute.org) while searching for something else online.  Free.  High quality?  Ministry training?  Was this too good to be true?  After all, I had searched for free ministry training before, and found nothing.  I wanted to study the Lord’s word, but I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars or relocate.

So I enrolled immediately in the web-based school, and now my knowledge of the Bible, church history, and theology is much deeper and wider.  CLI was an answer to a divine prayer, but it was an answer that took asking myself tough questions, spending lots of time in the Word and even more time in front of computer screen.

Several of the things limiting effective training for pastors and lay leaders has been the cost, availability, and time commitment for learning.  Attending Bible college costs thousands of dollars,  it often requires relocation, and it is time intensive.

Christian Leaders Institute solves those problems.  It’s FREE, and the Internet-based classes means you can attend from anywhere and the classes are on your schedule.  Because foundations, corporations and donors fund the program, there is no cost to you.  The classes are taught through videos, articles and books that are provided for free.  All materials are provided online and without cost.

So far, the school has had more than 9,000 U.S. graduates, 700 from South Afica, and 600 from Nigeria.  Students in more than 160 countries have graduated from CLI. Classes are taught in French, Spanish, and Chinese, and-of course-English.

I have earned nearly 105 hours for a 120 Bachelor of Divinity and Ministry.  I was aided by the school’s policy of granting 60 hours of credit if you already have a bachelor’s degree.  For those starting from scratch, you’ll have to take basic courses like English, biology and math in addition to offering such as New and Old Testament surveys, Theology, and Ethics.

A high school diploma is not required to attend, but you must successfully complete two courses to continue for free.  Schools, including Calvin Theological Seminary, Western Theological Seminary, and Vision International University will accept CLI degrees for further study.  CLI is accredited by the Academic Council for Education.  A master’s degree program is in the works.  If you are not interested in a bachelor’s, shorter programs are available too.

According to CLI literature, the school seeks to meet the needs of the 90% of the world that does not have access to quality Christian leaders training.  The school founded in 2001.  Students graduate from CLI debt free, leaving them open for new opportunities.

How do you enroll at CLI?  Go to the school’s web site.  tell them your name, email, password, and the country you live in, and you’re enrolled.

When I say CLI is free, it’s true.  The only things I’ve paid for is $35 for a diploma (you can print unoffical diplomas for free, but there is a cost for official, embossed diplomas) and the $900 required donation.  The fee is required to process the paper work to prove you have a bachelor’s degree, if applicable.  There is a payment plan to make the cost more manageable.  With seminaries charging an average $400 a credit hour, I’m not complaining about the CLI costs.  According to the Association of Theological Schools, the average tuition for a full time seminary student (05-06 school year) was $11,039.

In addition, students are ASKED (not required) to give.  I give $25 a month to support the mission, because CLI needs the money.  Of course, some students give nothing.  With CLI’s tight budget, they occasionally ask students for special gifts.  This spring, for example, the school made a special appeal to students when some offices were flooded.  I donated $10.

If you’re searching for a place to study God’s Word in more detail and for FREE, I highly recommend CLI.  CLI has made the problems of cost, distance, and time a thing of the past, now its your turn to move ahead.